Chorus Film Club (Week 3): Imitation of Life (Douglas Sirk, 1959)

Discussion in 'Entertainment Forum' started by brandon_260, May 16, 2016.

  1. brandon_260

    Trusted Prestigious

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    A struggling young actress with a six-year-old daughter sets up housekeeping with a homeless black widow and her light-skinned eight-year-old daughter who rejects her mother by trying to pass for white.

    There's no Netflix/Hulu or anything for this film, but if you have trouble finding it, PM me and I have a link to it.
     
  2. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    I've seen this before and it's my favorite of the 3 Sirk films I've had a chance to watch. It's a VERY different film than the original from '34, too.
     
  3. brandon_260

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    I've seen Magnificent Obsession and All That Heaven Allows, the latter of which is one of the best films I've ever seen. I've wanted to watch this one for the longest time, before I even watched those other two, but it was never accessible through my library or anything. I just moved to Toronto and their libraries have a bunch of copies, so I picked it up and am so excited to finally watch it.
     
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  5. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    Those are the other two I've seen. Both very good

    I had actually seen Far from Heaven before All That Heaven Allows and was watching it like "Waaaait a minute"
     
  6. brandon_260

    Trusted Prestigious

    Another amazing film, which was my favorite Haynes until Carol came out. I've also got Sirk's A Time to Live and a Time to Die and The Tarnished Angels from an old Masters of Cinema sale. I've got to get to those soon.

    Have you seen Fassbinder's Ali: Fear Eats the Soul? Also pays huge homage to All That Heaven Allows, replacing the politics of age difference for interracial dating. It's breathtaking.
     
  7. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    I have. It's the one Fassbender I've seen that I enthusiastically liked.
     
  8. adammmmm

    bad boy Prestigious

    my pick ;-p excited 2 watch it tomorrow
     
  9. brandon_260

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    This is exceptional. I was a tad worried that the race issue was going to play second fiddle during the first half, but it really opens up on that issue later on. My biggest surprise was how modern the film seems. In my experience, I haven't come across many pre-60s Hollywood films that are lead by so many women, one of them being a POC. Sirk also opens up on some great issues of balancing single motherhood and making a career, women empowering themselves, and the want to fit in when belonging to a typically ostracized group.

    I'm not quite sure if this tops Sirk's work in All That Heaven Allows for me (ATHA being available in a marvelous presentation vs the dismal DVD I watched this on may have played an effect). But I do admire this one and its stance more, though they are both progressive enough in their own way. And that finale is just heartbreaking.
     
  10. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    All due respect to Shelley Winters, who I love, but Juanita Moore really should have won the Oscar that year.
     
  11. brandon_260

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    You should send me a film pick;-)
     
  12. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    What's the criteria? Are we looking mostly for auteurist cinephile stuff? Trying to go for not-so-obvious picks?
     
  13. brandon_260

    Trusted Prestigious

    Everyone has sort of made their own criteria, but there's nothing set for this one. On the AP one I had sort of said nothing in wide release from the last 15 or 20 years but I'm trying to keep it more open and friendly this go. My personal criteria is picking films underseen from known directors (last was Bergman's The Silence) or directors not as often talked about, hence Demy, who is not spoken about as much as other 60s French directors like Truffaut or Godard. Usually, I try to pick something that's also readily available for streaming on Hulu and/or Netflix.
     
  14. ChaseTx

    Hail seitan Prestigious

    This was a great pick. I was impressed by the social politics of it, because of course I had my worries that some of that wouldn't hold up well under a modern light. There was a lot of emotion especially between Annie and Sarah Jane (the dressing room scene is devastating) and as frustrating as the daughter's actions are to the viewer, you still have to empathize with her character because of the state of race relations at the time. The plotlines with Laura and Susan by comparison felt insignificant.

    I'm curious about the original film. @cshadows2887 you've seen it? I read the plot synopsis and was surprised that 1) the same basic plot was there in 1934 when it would have been even more progressive for its time and 2) they actually casted a black actress as the daughter, which this film did not.
     
  15. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    The original is definitely less exceptional, but still a good movie. I think it is more concerned with trying to make Claudette Colbert's character a hero than Sirk was, but it also is one of the most surprisingly well-rounded roles for a black actress that happened in the entirety of the 30s. I've read (though who knows about the reliability) that Louise Beavers' performance was one of the catalysts for them inventing a category for supporting actors at the Oscars, because she didn't get nominated.

    What's remarkable is that it's worth anything at all, given the fact that Breen and the Production Code fought them every step of the way in an attempt to keep miscegenation off the screen.
     
    ChaseTx likes this.