Imitation of Life

( 24 )

Overview

One of Douglas Sirk's best films, Imitation of Life, comes to DVD with a widescreen anamorphic transfer that preserves the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Sirk used color masterfully as this fine image attests. The English soundtrack is rendered in Dolby Digital Mono. Spanish and French subtitles are accessible. There are no supplemental materials of any consequence. This is a fine release from Universal that could be better, but certainly the film has never looked ...
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Overview

One of Douglas Sirk's best films, Imitation of Life, comes to DVD with a widescreen anamorphic transfer that preserves the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Sirk used color masterfully as this fine image attests. The English soundtrack is rendered in Dolby Digital Mono. Spanish and French subtitles are accessible. There are no supplemental materials of any consequence. This is a fine release from Universal that could be better, but certainly the film has never looked so good on home video.
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Special Features

[None specified]
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
The great director Douglas Sirk's Imitation of Life, a spectacular, sprawling melodrama, follows a widowed aspiring actress Lana Turner and a homeless single mother Juanita Moore who raise their daughters together. While the actress's rise to Broadway stardom at the cost of true love gives the first half of the film a romantic arc, the relationship between the two mothers -- one white, one black -- gradually takes center stage. Sirk never compromises the integrity of the genre, steadfastly crafting archetypes instead of stereotypes while avoiding overt allegory or satire. This earnest sophistication gives Imitation of Life a weight that transcends social commentary. Turner's performance is pivotal, a grandiose portrayal of ambition and desire that fuels the story while contrasting brilliantly with Moore's austerity. Based on a bestselling novel by Fannie Hurst, Sirk's film was the second adaptation of the book, and it strays much farther from the source material than the more straightforward 1934 screen version. They truly don't make movies like this anymore; Imitation of Life stands as Sirk's masterpiece and perhaps the greatest Hollywood melodrama ever made.
All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
From the opening credits' cascade of jewels to the final orgy of grief and reconciliation, Douglas Sirk's remake of Imitation of Life encases a potentially maudlin soaper in a flamboyant style that incisively critiques 1950s America even as it mercilessly wrings emotions. Finding the perfect exemplars of artificiality in Lana Turner and cloying daughter Sandra Dee to contrast with the genuine, Oscar-nominated pathos of Juanita Moore and troubled daughter Susan Kohner, Sirk adds an extra bite to the divisions of race and class dictating Lora and Annie's unspoken assumption that Annie will always be the maid and Sarah Jane will always play second fiddle to Susie. The gaudy colors, over-the-top interiors (especially Lora's palatial home and Sarah Jane's vulgar nightclub), and copious mirrors emphasize the deleterious impact of the 1950s obsession with surfaces, whether racial, financial, or maternal. The casting of white actress Kohner to play a black passing for white speaks for itself. The climactic funeral featuring gospel singer Mahalia Jackson teeters between wrenching melodrama and comic irony, exemplifying Sirk's gift for pessimistic "happy" endings. Critical or not, Imitation of Life became Universal's biggest hit ever at that time, capping Sirk's soon-to-be distinguished career.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/7/2003
  • UPC: 025192261121
  • Original Release: 1959
  • Rating:

  • Source: Universal Studios
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Theatre Wide-Screen (1.85.1)
  • Presentation: Wide Screen
  • Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Language: English
  • Time: 2:05:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 21,521

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Lana Turner Lora Meredith
John Gavin Steve Archer
Juanita Moore Annie Johnson
Sandra Dee Susie (older)
Dan O'Herlihy David Edwards
Robert Alda Allen Loomis
Susan Kohner Sara Jane (older)
Mahalia Jackson Herself
Karen Dicker Sara Jane (younger)
Terry Burnham Susie Meredith, at 6
John Vivyan Young Man
Lee Goodman Photographer
Ann Robinson Show Girl
Troy Donahue Frankie
Sandra Gould Receptionist
Joel Fluellen Minister
Jack Weston Stage Manager
Billy House Fat Man
Maida Severn Teacher
Than Wyenn Romano
Peg Shirley Fay
George Barrows Furniture Mover
Paul Bradley Preston Mitchell
Myrna Fahey Actress
Bess Flowers Geraldine Moore
Eddie Parker Policeman
David Tomack Burly Man
Napoleon Whiting Kenneth
Technical Credits
Douglas Sirk Director
Alexander Golitzen Art Director
Miton Carruth Editor
Sammy Fain Songwriter
Russell A. Gausman Set Decoration/Design
Joseph E. Gershenson Musical Direction/Supervision
Eleanore Griffin Screenwriter
Frederick Herbert Songwriter
Julia Heron Set Decoration/Design
Arnold Hughes Songwriter
Ross Hunter Producer
Jean Louis Costumes/Costume Designer
Henry Mancini Score Composer
Russell Metty Cinematographer
Richard H. Riedel Art Director
Allan Scott Screenwriter
Frank Skinner Score Composer
Clifford Stine Special Effects
Bill Thomas Costumes/Costume Designer
Paul Webster Songwriter
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Main Titles [2:15]
2. Two Mothers [12:14]
3. Steve Archer [5:32]
4. The Agent [7:49]
5. Everything's Wrong [4:16]
6. Sarah Jane's Shame [4:07]
7. Big News [7:23]
8. The Audition [2:32]
9. A Star Is Born [8:07]
10. The New Home [3:54]
11. An Old and Dear Friend [6:26]
12. Sarah Jane's Secret [3:53]
13. To Be Different [3:59]
14. The Boyfriend [4:36]
15. A "Respectable" Job [3:29]
16. Looking for Sarah Jane [6:30]
17. In Love With Steve [6:11]
18. Annie's Last Wishes [9:56]
19. The Funeral [9:18]
20. End Titles [5:19]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Scenes
   Bonus Materials
      Trailer
      Recommendations
   Languages
      Spoken Language: English 2.0 Mono
      Captioned for the Hearing Impaired: English
      Subtitles: Español
      Subtitles: Français
      Subtitles: None
   Play
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 24 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(21)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 18, 2011

    Highly Recommended-- A must see!!!

    This is a very good movie that teaches of loves and losses of family. Heart warming and heart felt

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    A film, although very soap opera like, is advanced for the time. Discussing interracial issues, problems within the African American culture and the darkness of one's skin, black and white issues......for the 50's, was remarkably advanced.

    As I watch this film, a remake of the 1930's film of the same name, with Claudette Colbert and some minor changes, I want to scream, hit someone, cry...you name it. Lana Turner, playing a poor woman, actress wannabe in a cold water flat in downtown Manhattan, meets a woman of color, through circumstances in Coney Island. Lana needs help with her daughter, who because she is so poor, cannot afford anyone to help her while she goes for auditions. The woman of color, Juanita Moore, helps Lana at the beach when she loses her daughter and the 2 meet, and they all, both women and their daughters, set up shop together with Lana auditioning and Juanita doing everything else. Eventually Lana makes it and they, through the years, move up, gain wealth and fame and move to Westchester. Juanita's daughter is a girl who hates the fact that she is black and can pass for white. She screams and cries at every chance when people find out she is black and her mom is a 'maid', although her mom is so much more. Sarah Jane, the girl of color, grows up and sees how Lana and daughter, Susie, are treated, compared to her mother and herself,though not treated differently at all, when she is found out. Her mother, as well as Lana and Susie, try over and over to tell Sarah Jane that she is what she is, and cannot change that. Again, she is not treated any differently than Susie, played by Sandra Dee (can you get and whiter than Sandra?). Eventually, Sarah has a bf who thinks she is white and they date. He finds out, though, and beats Sarah to a pulp. Eventually, Sarah runs away daily to NY, telling mom that she is working in the library. When Juanita finds out Sarah's been lying, she find out where ahe has been working, a borderline strip club, and blows the whistle. Sarah, saying many horrible things, runs farther, to LA, where Lana's fiance finds her and Juanita does there to find her. Through the ensuiing years, Juanits has been slowing down, and becoming ill, though she does not complain and only says she is tired. She does go to LA and confronts her daughter, without blowing the whistle and Sarah treats her terribly, telling her not to sit down. A fellow worker comes in thinking that Juanita is the maid and complains, but she declines and tells Sarah that she just wants her to know that if she ever needs anything......etc. She leaves, with Sarah, tearful, telling her friend that she was her Mammy, and took care of her all her life. Juanita goes back to NY and decompensates quickly, dying of what I assume to be cancer. She tells Lana what she wants to leave certain people, going as far back as when they were in the cold water flat which stuns Lana, that she had been saving so much and kept in touch with those who helped them when they had nothing. She also wants a fancy, huge funeral to 'go to her glory.' When she dies, Mahalia Jackson sings a song that will wrench anyone with a heart. When service is over, outside, Sarah Jane runs up screaming that she killed her mother, which she did, in essence. Lana has to get out to control her and Susie goes off to college. Film is before its time and performanc by Lana is ok, but Juanita is amazing, Sandra is Sandra. One wants to beat SJ to a pulp for hurting her sweet mother. We hate her by the end and have NO sympathy for her tears. Subplots are not even noticed within the bigger story. The original is better, but this is a great remake. Worth every star and tear you will shed at the end. Sorry for awful typing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Everyone should see Imitation for Life

    I got this movie on the recommendation of a friend. It was on a list of movies to choose from for my Social Inequality college class. It was an excellent choice. Yes, it is an old movie, and the effects are not all that advanced like in today's movies, but that is not the point. The story is realistic and compelling. Although it at times seems exaggerated with the maltreatment of women, it truly shows how women and especially blacks have been discriminated against. This came out in the 1950's, but it is a remake of a movie from 1934. Both eras were times of great conflict when women and blacks were struggling with discrimination and male dominance. Many of these aspects are still present today in our society. This film will slap you in the face and make you realize, though we have come a long way, our society is still very much unfair to women, blacks, and other minorities.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    One of my All Time Favorite Films!

    As a person of color but more specifically as a child of a white father and a Native American/African American mother this movie which I 1st saw as a small child was absolutely heartbreaking but also tender, warm and at least for me personally totally frustrating! My parents wanted me to see this film and when I did I couldn't understand a person not wanting to be who they were or more to the point hating what they were. I understand that I didn't really grow up during a time where blatant racism was the norm-I actually did grow up in the early sixties but blatant or pronounced racism was not evident in my community or at least racism was not felt and experienced in the same way. I still don't understand hating who you are but seeing someone experience this and just knowing that it happens is almost too much to bear. Some may feel that I'm overstating the effect that this film had on me but I should also mention that I'm openly homosexual. Thank God for stories such as this one. This film taught me to never be ashamed of who you are and to enter every room with your head held up, to not allow other people without regard for who they are to diminish your humanity and to extend yourself to others who may be hurting when they need you! See this film! The hopefulness you obtain and the lessons you learn from having watched it is something you'll remember for the rest of your life!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Timeless Classic

    I love this movie,it is my absolute favourite movie,I watched this movie a few times as a child and would always cry at the end.I am 20 years old and I really appreciate movies like this that are true classics.My mom watched it when she was a child too,and she would also cry at the end.This is the example of good writing and acting,something we don't always see nowadays.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A Gem

    Imitation of life is one of the best movies ever! I remember watching it about 15 years ago and it has been a movie that I can't stop talking about. A movie for your personal collection a must!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    One of the best movies ever is Imitaion of Life....

    I watched Imitaion of Life with my Mother as a young child and now at 42, I still watch it and love it more and more. Lana Turner and all of the actors in this movie were excellent! It's worth owning.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A classic regardless of Race

    I thought this movie was wonderful. One person wrote that it was demeaning and a horrible depiction of blacks. She also stated you should ask the average black person what they thought of it. First, good luck finding ''the average black person''; no such thing exist. Second, WAKE UP; the 60s were horrible and demeaning to blacks. I am a black man and I loved this movie. Yes, it is hard to watch because it brings back memories of a time that some would rather forget. But let us not forget lest we repeat our past. There are several good messages in this movie. To rate it low because it depicts a time in our history when blacks were treated second class is not only unfair it is narrow minded. Ena, I suggest you watch it again not in slow motion but with less emotion. For all others, watch, listen, and learn. And also keep plenty of tissues on hand; when Mahalia Jackson sings at the end of the movie it is enough to make even the strongest man cry. Trust me!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    It make me cry every time I see it

    The movie is very good, and very sad.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Very Very good movie

    One of the best movies i've seen, a real tear jerker

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Anything but a classic

    This movie was a horrible depiction of blacks, reinforcing damaging stereotypes. I cannot believe how many people obviously cannot see Annie is protrayed as the subservient, happy to serve mammy and how Sarah Jane is made out to be hopelessly tragic. Sirk does a disservice to all blacks by continuing to insult their intelligence and by perpeutating demeaning images of them. For all those fans of this movie, watch it again IN SLOW MOTION and ask the average black person what they thought of it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A classic! A masterpiece! One of the best movies ever made!

    I just want to say as an African American woman, this movie is a must see! I was not offended by this movie and have watched it from the time I was a child and even to this day, it still manage to bring tears to my eyes.I love it! Juanita Moore did a fantastic job and should have won an award for her portrayal of the beautiful and gentle Annie. Beautiful Lana Turner never shown so bright as she did in this wonderfully written piece! The handsome John Gavin brought a classy masculinity to the film and was a wonderful addition to both struggling mothers. Sandra Dee, cute as a button. Pretty Susan Kohner was very believable in her task of portraying a woman of mixed race the beautiful but ever tormented Sara Jane. :-) Bravo to the writer of this wonderful film! I'm not sure if it won any awards that year, but it should have! They don't make movies like this anymore. :-( A must see! Make sure to have plenty of kleenex on hand. :-) Sandra Turner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A MUST SEE FOR ANYBODY WITH A HEART !!!!!!!!!!!!

    A real tear jerker. Everyone should see this movie. They don't make movies like this anymore. A+++++++++++++

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Passing on a classic to my child.

    My mom and I watched this movie when i was younger. It was one of her favorites. I am in my early 30's and I loved it in my teens, it is truly a classic. I just discovered Barnes and Noble.com and now try and think of movies to order, this movie was worthy of being number 4 that I remembered wanting. Thanks for having it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2002

    Freakishly sad!!

    This is the saddest movie EVER! I would think even men would get at least teary-eyed over it! Despite the out-dated 50's look, etc., it is so moving! I agree with another poster...if you don't cry at this movie (or at least feel sad) there must be something wrong with you! I don't cry at movies; it's not my thing. But this one makes me WEEP! The movie builds up one sad scene after another, each one sadder then the last until you think it's ending and then BAM! The final scene will have you grabbing for tissues; this is not a movie you can cry at and pretend you're NOT crying (take note, men). If you're embarrassed to cry in front of people, I highly suggest watching it alone. It'll probably make you want to call your mother up and tell her that you love her, too!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A movie that pulls you...

    I first saw this movie in 1960 - I was hooked. I was so glad when it It came out on VHS - I've played it so much that the tape is worn. THANK GOD it has now been released on DVD. This movie is a classic! Lana Turner was at her BEST in this movie. She moved from being a movie star to becoming an ACTRESS in this movie. The co-star named Juanita Moore should have won an Oscar for her performance as well. I never have been so swept up in a movie as I have with this masterpiece. I remember growing up in that era when racial tensions were high. Sadly to say, I know someone who actually passed as white in those days in order to gain employment. It's hard to imagine that today, but that stuff really did happened. But the beauty of this story is the friendship that developed between a black and white woman - the fact that their races were different had no barrier on their friendship. What made this story so great was the bond of love that grew between the two main characters 'Lora and Annie' and the heartaches they shared. Yes - I pre-ordered my DVD and will add to my collection of great classics. When you watch this movie, make sure you have a box of Kleenex handy!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    greatest movie of all times

    Even after all these years this movie still aptly portrays the differences between parents and child and the rich and poor. Always to realize our hurtful actions too late. One of the greatest movies of all times. A box of kleenex is a must with this movie.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2002

    Too excellent

    This movie has touched my heart for years. My children will be watching. It touches on everything from loving yourself to deceit and heartbreak. Excellent./

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2002

    Great as an ''Original'' movie. Disappointing as a Remake

    The original ''Imitation of Life'' with Claudette Colbert as Beatrice and Louise Beavers as Delilah- though racist for today, was a far better portrayal than this. I saw this version before the 1939 and truly liked it until I saw the original. The Movie was to be a portrayal of two women in business together, struggling alone with their children. The 1939 version - Beatrice treating Delilah as an equal (or as equal as one could be for the time). Also allowing both women to have decadent wealth not afforded women during that decade in history. The money flow was due to Delilah¿s tempting pancake mix (it was portrayed so well, one wanted to rush to the kitchen a whip up a batch). The only thing that this remake remotely matched was Annie¿s (1939¿s Delilah) child trying to ''pass'', and the finale - which I will not expose. Other than that, this was an unfair botching of a perfectly wonderful book and movie. Standing alone, it was wonderful. Give it a different name and it is far more enjoyable to watch, without shooting holes into it. Hopefully when someone does another remake (and they will!), it will be a duplicate of the first one, with true equality. The fun thing about the first edition is to see Ms. Colbert with her exaggerated, drawn in eyebrows. But the cloths were amazing (this is not an exaggeration ¿ see the 1939 version and drool) in both movies. Very seldom do we see that sort of elegance.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2002

    Wonderful

    When I first saw this movie I cried like I had never cried over a movie.The movie took a taboo subject and put it in a movie showing everyone what its like for some people growing up.I thought the movie was the best.I have watched more times than I can count.This movie is a must see.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews