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Sunday Classics: Imitation of Life(1959)

When people ask me “What's your favorite movie of all time?” there is one film that always pops into my mind. Even though I love the great CGI and action films of today, there is nothing more beautiful than the power of classic storytelling... and IMITATION OF LIFE is the perfect example.

Imitation of life is the 1959 film starring Lana Turner and Juanita Moore about two single mothers raising two very different daughters. The most interesting story line, in my opinion, is that of Sarah Jane ( Susan Kohner) and her mother, Annie (Juanita Moore). Although Sarah Jane is African American she is so light in complexion that she could easily pass as white and in 1940s America you can understand why she wanted to do just that. In her fight to abandon her blackness she also continuously hurts her mother who just wants to take care of and love her.

I love this film. Like love it to the point I have probably seen it 20 times in the past 15 years.

I find that I relate most to Susie played by Sandra Dee. Susie is being raised by a widowed actress who is constantly battling between focusing on her Hollywood career and being the perfect mother. I grew up with a very driven mother who at times was not as present because she was busy with school and work. When you're a child you don't understand the sacrifices made for your well being and in this film, Susie was quite naive to the positive points her mother solidifying a career had on her life.

All of the players were flawless in their performances. The film gained Oscar and Golden Globe notoriety.

I must say I have always had a bit of a gripe with how worn down and old Annie seems in comparison to Lora but after watching it again as a more mature woman I understand the importance of showing all of the effects of Sarah Jane's behavior and decisions.

My absolute favorite scene in Imitation of Life is also the most heartbreaking. When Sarah Jane leaves home and disowns her mother and heritage it practically breaks Annie. She tries to bring her back but to no avail. Finally, it's too much to handle and she grows sick. When she dies (in a send off fit for a queen) Sarah Jane shows up to the funeral in hysterics. Pleading and apologizing to her mother for killing her. For me, this scene is a reminder that no matter how hard it gets or how annoying she is, don't ever forget your mother is connected to you in more ways than you'll ever know.

Imitation of Life


Have you seen it? What did you think? comment below and let me know.

Directed by Douglas Sirk

Produced by Ross Hunter

Screenplay by Eleanore Griffin Allan Scott

Based on Imitation of Life 1933 novel by Fannie Hurst


Lana Turner Juanita Moore John Gavin Sandra Dee Susan Kohner Mahalia Jackson

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