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Bernice Lee, a light-skinned black student, attends a nightclub in Los Angeles where her dark-skinned brother Chuck performs with his own jazz group. Chuck gets into a fight when a white man calls him "Rastus" and insults Bernice, thinking she is a white girl dating Chuck. The next day, Bernice talks to her grandmother about the incident and about school, where she has been snubbed by both white and black students after a white girl, whom she thought was her friend, told everyone she was passing for white. Bernice wants to quit school and get a job, and she asks why she cannot pass for white. Gram, whose husband was white, says that if she had to do it over, she would not intermarry because of the problems it creates for the children. Bernice assures her that she does not want to marry, but only get a job as a white girl. Gram still advises against living a lie. At an office building, Bernice is offered a job as an elevator girl and is told that if she had not written "Negro" as her race on her application form, she could have gotten secretarial work. She then packs her things and flies to New York, where, using the name "Lila Brownell" and passing for white, she gets a job as a secretary for an ad agency. One night, she attends a company cocktail party and runs into Frederick "Rick" Leyton, who earlier tried to flirt with her on the plane. He admits he had tracked her down and they begin to date. Bernice soon learns that Rick is from a wealthy old New England family. During a dinner party with Sally Roberts, Bernice's co-worker, and Jay Morgan, Rick's friend, Bernice is overcome by her feelings for Rick, but when he calls at three in the morning to propose marriage, she tells him it is too soon and that there is much he does not know about her. In love with Rick, Bernice confides in Sally, who advises her not to tell Rick that she is black, because despite his feelings, he will have to tell his family, and they, Sally believes, will not allow the marriage. Bernice tries to avoid Rick, but he insists that what matters to him is whether she loves him, and she admits that she does. Bernice tells Rick's parents a number of lies about her family, who, she says, live in Richmond and cannot attend the wedding because they are leaving the country. After the wedding, Mrs. Leyton starts to suspect that Bernice has lied about her family. At a nightclub, Bernice nervously looks away after seeing that her brother Chuck is in the band. When Chuck approaches and takes her hand, Rick viciously hits him and orders him to take his hands off his wife. Bernice explains that Chuck is a musician she knew from school, but begins to cry when Rick argues that she left Richmond before the schools there were integrated. As she leaves the club, Chuck sadly shakes his head. When Bernice becomes pregnant, she worries that the baby will have brown or black skin. After her doctor prescribes exercise and even drink to calm her, she goes to a club with Rick and his parents and dances with a number of men. Rick explodes and berates her for acting like a "cheap dance hall dame," and when she acknowledges a black piano player, Rick says one would think she were friends with "those black cats." Bernice now plans to go away with Sally to have the baby, and if the baby looks black, give Rick the opportunity to have nothing more to do with her or the child; however, after she goes through a night of pain, she is taken to the hospital, where she delivers the baby. In a semi-delirious state, she asks the nurse if the baby is black, unaware that Rick is in the room. Rick then tells her that the baby did not live, and later, she is allowed to see the dead baby, which looks white. Bernice explains to Rick that she was afraid the baby might have been black from choking, then cries hysterically. At home, Bernice learns from her black maid Bertha that Mrs. Leyton has discovered that the picture Bernice has identified as her mother is a fake, and that Mrs. Leyton has also seen books on intermarriage in Bernice's dresser. Bertha reveals that she told Mrs. Leyton that the books are her own. Rick finds Bertha comforting Bernice and angrily orders her to take her hands off his wife and get out, then queries Bernice about her fascination with Negroes. He accuses her of having slept with the black musician and violently throws her on the bed. She admits to lying, but says that the baby was Rick's. Unable to believe her, Rick leaves for town to stay overnight and think about their situation. Bernice goes to the airport accompanied by the still loyal Sally and reasons it is just as well that the Leytons do not know the truth about her. When Bernice arrives back home, she embraces Gram and Chuck.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||not available|
|Release Date:||1960||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||Allied Artists Pictures Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Fred M. Wilcox Enterprises, Inc.|
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Never lefy my mind
I saw this movie when I was 8 years old living in Flint Michigan. It enters my mind at least once or twice a year. It left me in so much turmoil. I would...
A flim that has stayed with me for over 40yrs
Evelyn Jase 2008-02-29
I saw this movie in Los Angeles,California when it was first release. I saw it at our local theater. I have never forgotten this movie nor the inpact it...
Is this the actually ending?
For some reason, I had a memory of her husband coming home, finding her gone, and then acting like he was going to find her no matter what, walking out the...