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Imitation of Life: Two Movie Collection

Overview

Two screen adaptations of Fannie Hurst's melodramatic novel are paired up in this special DVD package: John M. Stahl's 1934 version starring Claudette Colbert and Douglas Sirk's subtly transgressive 1959 production starring Lana Turner. The 1939 film has been transferred to disc in its original full-screen aspect ratio of 1.33:1, while the 1959 picture has been letterboxed in the widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 (which has also been enhanced for anamorphic playback on 16 x 9 monitors). The audio for both films ...
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Overview

Two screen adaptations of Fannie Hurst's melodramatic novel are paired up in this special DVD package: John M. Stahl's 1934 version starring Claudette Colbert and Douglas Sirk's subtly transgressive 1959 production starring Lana Turner. The 1939 film has been transferred to disc in its original full-screen aspect ratio of 1.33:1, while the 1959 picture has been letterboxed in the widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 (which has also been enhanced for anamorphic playback on 16 x 9 monitors). The audio for both films has been remixed Dolby Digital Surround; both are in English with optional subtitles in English, Spanish, and French. Original theatrical trailers have been included as a bonus.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; [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.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 2/10/2004
  • UPC: 025192423321
  • Rating:

  • Source: Universal Studios
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Pre-1954 Standard (1.33.1), Theatre Wide-Screen (1.85.1)
  • Presentation: Black & White ('34) Full Frame / Color ('59) Widescreen
  • Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
  • Language: English
  • Time: 3:56:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Lana Turner
Claudette Colbert
Technical Credits
Douglas Sirk Director
John M. Stahl Director
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Scene Index

Side #1 -- 1959 Film
1. Main Titles [2:16]
2. Two Mothers [2:15]
3. Steve Archer [12:14]
4. The Agent [5:32]
5. Everything's Wrong [7:49]
6. Sarah Jane's Shame [4:16]
7. Big News [4:07]
8. The Audition [7:23]
9. A Star Is Born [2:32]
10. The New Home [8:07]
11. An Old and Dear Friend [3:54]
12. Sarah Jane's Secret [6:26]
13. To Be Different [3:53]
14. The Boyfriend [3:59]
15. A "Respectable" Job [4:36]
16. Looking for Sarah Jane [3:29]
17. In Love With Steve [6:30]
18. Annie's Last Wishes [6:11]
19. The Funeral [9:56]
20. End Titles [9:18]
Side #2 -- 1934 Film
1. "I Want My Quack Quack" (Main Titles) [6:14]
2. Room & Board [5:50]
3. Special Secret Recipe [5:59]
4. Aunt Delilah's Pancake Shop [5:24]
5. Paid in Full [4:47]
6. One Hundred Thousand Dollar Idea [7:53]
7. On Easy Street [6:14]
8. Meet the Pancake Queen [6:10]
9. No Time for Romance [5:00]
10. Go Amongst Your Own [6:25]
11. Let's Be Married [5:06]
12. All Grown-Up [5:45]
13. Disowned Family [9:13]
14. Silly Child [7:18]
15. Delilah's Not Well [5:32]
16. Keep Control [4:41]
17. "Where's My Baby?" [7:33]
18. Family Comes First (End Titles) [5:16]
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Menu

Side #1 -- 1959 Film
   Scenes
   Bonus Materials
      Trailer
      Recommendations
   Languages
      English 2.0 Mono
      English Captions for the Hearing Impaired
      Spanish/Español Subtitles
      French/Français Subtitles
      No Subtitles
   Play
Side #2 -- 1934 Film
   Scenes
   Languages
      English
      English Captions for the Hearing Impaired
      Spanish/Español Subtitles
      French/Français Subtitles
      No Subtitles
   Play
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    One of my favorite movies

    One of the best movies ever made!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Compelling drama

    The only version I can review is the 1959 movie with Lana Turner... This is a good movie about issues pertaining to society in the early fifties and even today, does not come off as too dated. I am sure this was a daring film to make at that time as some of viewers most likely had their heads in the sand. My only gripe is that the star credit goes to Turner even though it is obvious (to me, at least) that Juanita Moore is the real star of this film. She should of been nominated for best actress rather than supporting actress but then again, I guess this isn't surprising for that time period. What a shame. This actress did a fantastic job of playing Annie. The girl who played Sarah was pretty good too although a bit melodramatic. The movie was well-made,good cinematography, costumes and so forth...the script was good- the story well written. Recommended

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Legendary director Douglas Sirk at his peak.

    In "Imitation of Life", we see the lives of four women in the 1950s and their attempts to make their lives more than mere imitations. Lora Meredith (Lana Turner) and her daughter Susie (Sandra Dee) have struggled along after the death of Lora's husband, but are having a very rough time of it. Annie Johnson (Juanita Moore), abandoned by her daughter Sarah Jane's (Susan Kohner) father even before Sarah Jane was born, has had trouble finding work as a domestic because, as she tells Lora, "nobody wants a maid who has a child." A chance meeting between the two women brings their lives together, and together they struggle to survive in New York City. Lora, an aspiring actress, comes to depend on Annie, who moves into Lora's apartment and becomes her maid. Annie makes a domestic haven for Lora, Susie, and her own daughter, but struggles as Sarah Jane rejects her racial identity and attempts to pass for white. The film focuses on the dilemmas that each of the women face in a world they do not control. Lora struggles to become famous without having to sacrifice her ethics, to remain a good mother to Susie despite the career demands that keep her away much of the time. Susie yearns for her mother's attention instead of the expensive niceties with which Lora showers her. Annie lives in two worlds—a white world in which she is a servant, and a black world in which she is a community leader and highly respected figure—and adopts an accommodating stance. Sarah Jane, able to pass for white, yearns to leave behind the limitations she feels have plagued her mother in a racist society and to be treated with respect like that afforded Lora. This melodramatic film, often referred to as a "woman's film" because it was aimed mostly at female audiences, presents an important prescription for female happiness to its viewers. To women who struggle for careers and to young girls who wish to grow into happy women, the film recommends that happiness can be found in focusing on one's "more natural" domestic roles as mother and wife. To women who rebel against the limitations placed on them because of sex or race, it recommends the path of least resistance, acceptance of society's view of women (and women of color) as different and inferior. Today, "Imitation of Life" is of primary interest because of its German director, Douglas Sirk, one of the major benefactors of auteur criticism in the late sixties and seventies. Sirk wasn't taken seriously in America until film critic Andrew Sarris praised him in his landmark book "The American Cinema" (1968). His films of the early fifties were cheerful tributes to small-town America. His later films were more honest and personal, and revealed Sirk's growing disillusionment with his adopted country. They revealed his belief that there was a quake brewing beneath the happy American facade. Because men and women had lost their most decent values striving after money, and weakening under the weight of ambition and social pressures, the 'American Dream' was soured in his films "Magnificent Obsession" (1954), "All That Heaven Allows" (1956), "There's Always Tomorrow" (1956), "Written on the Wind" (1956), "Interlude" (1957), "The Tarnished Angels" (1958), and "Imitation of Life" (1959), the last film Sirk made before permanently returning to Germany. [filmfactsman]

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    time for another remake

    the 1959 version with Lana Turner is an abolute melodramatic downplay of the serious side of what is still to this day, called passability. More so, a wonderful movie begging for change advocated on the heels of Civil Rights activism, it's a sleeper in the minds and thoughts of the current generations of African-Americans toward its resolve in eradicating inner-racial angst. Perhaps, there should a movie produced and released with a male protaganist of the same theme.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    DISMAL LOOKING TRANSFERS OF CLASSIC MELODRAMA

    Both John Stahl's 1934 version of 'Imitation of Life' and Douglas Sirk's 1959 adaptation are tales of racism and the shame that befalls a young mulatto girl who denies her black heritage. Based on the novel by Fannie Hurst, Stahl's quiet understated approach to the subject matter is less heavy handed in its use of melodrama than Sirk's (though Sirk is widely regarded as the master in this medium). To be sure, Sirk amplifies the melodrama to underscore racial prejudice and materialism but, to the contemporary eye, his exaggerations seem more garish than genius, more indoctrinated than inspired. In the 1934 version Claudette Colbert plays Beatrice Pullman, an understanding housewife with a congenial housekeeper, Delilah (Louise Beavers). Both Bea and Dee have young daughters who ultimately become best friends. However, when Dee¿s daughter decides to pretend she¿s white she alienates both her friendship and destroys her mother¿s trust. In the 1959 version, Lana Turner takes over the role of Bea (now, inexplicably renamed Lora Merideth ¿ presumably because the name Bea just wasn¿t sexy enough for the lovely Lana). Other than that, the plot is generally the same. Juanita Moore is the black house maid this time around, also renamed from Delilah to Annie Johnson. Stahl's B&W photography on the 1934 version holds up remarkably well. But Universal's transfer is rather weak in spots, showing considerable signs of age throughout. Contrast levels are unusually low while black levels are weak. Fine detail is lost in film grain. The B&W film is presented full frame - as it should be. Sirk's 1959 color version is a genuine visual disappointment. Colors are faded, dated and muddy. There is a haze across many of the scenes taking place outside. Film grain is excessive. Many scenes appear overly soft to down right blurry. There's a bit of smearing and bleeding of colors in several scenes. Contrast levels are weak. Fine details disappear during the darkest scenes and are never fully realized in brightly lit scenes either. This version is anamorphic widescreen as it should be. The audio for both films is BIG FAT MONO. Not a very impressive effort from Universal to say the least. There's little to recommend the films as such. The transfers are entirely forgettable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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