Like most Vintage collectors, we have a love for nostalgia and today's nostalgic moment happens to be the film "Imitation of Life" starring Lana Turner, Juanita Moore and a epic gospel solo by Mahalia Jackson.
There are two versions, one in 1934 and the other in 1959. For this post we are highlighting the 1959 version which garnered Academy Award nominations for Juanita Moore and Sarah Kohner who play the tragic mother and daughter. The first time I saw this this emotional film I was around ten. Some of the themes of class, race and specifically passing were slightly foreign to me. As a kid we were still learning about racism and class was foreign but the idea of passing was unheard of. Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1980s and 1990s you knew you were African American and that's that, my brown skin can tell no lies.
Since it was based in the late 1950s right in the midst of the Civil Right movement and race heavy theme is far from sugar coated. Sarah Jane, played by Czech and Mexican actress Susan Kohner, who also received an Oscar nomination is so gun-ho for passing for white, she disowns her mother Annie , played by Moore leading to Annie dying from a broken heart and in the gut wrenching final scene, Sarah Jane breaks down at her mother's casket and begs for forgiveness, albeit to late.
The film is considered to be a classic in American cinematography and is noted as being one of the most authentic films of its time dealing with the themes of race, single motherhood, passing as well as class. If you're looking for a good film to ponder about current issues and of course checking out the stellar wardrobe of Lana Turner, look no further than Imitation of Life.