Imitation of Life (1959)

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Movie Info & Cast


This is a tear-jerking melodrama about a single mother who hires a black woman to care for her child. The film subverts Hollywood conventions to create a bitter critique of American racism and capitalism.


  • Lana Turner
  • John Gavin
  • Sandra Dee
  • Dan O'Herlihy
  • Susan Kohner
  • Robert Alda
  • Juanita Moore
  • Mahalia Jackson
  • Troy Donahue

Atom User Reviews

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A film that can tear you apart emotionally; it's both one of the great movie soap operas and a powerful indictment of racism. Sirk's cool, elegant style--smooth as silk on top, jagged and hot with feeling below--has rarely been joined to a more perfect subject. [05 May 2006, p.C9]

Metacritic review by Michael Wilmington
Michael Wilmington
Chicago Tribune

Laugh if you want at Imitation of Life or any of Sirk’s primal cinematic operas. Although if you can laugh at the film’s end, when Mahalia Jackson herself sings “Trouble of the World,” I can’t help you. Just understand that when you laugh, you’re really laughing at yourself, and you’re laughing to keep from crying.

Metacritic review by Ty Burr
Ty Burr
Boston Globe

The film isn’t only revolutionary for its aesthetic rigorousness but its rare fascination with white America’s difficulty relating to people of color.

Metacritic review by Ed Gonzalez
Ed Gonzalez
Slant Magazine