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Imitation of Life

Imitation of Life(1959)

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  • Powerful film

    • v etc
    • 1/3/18

    You would think that in any film with both Sandra Dee ( in the same month as Gidget's release )and Lana Turner that one or both of them would produce the most-enduring impression, but Susan Kohner as the black girl passing for white, and, above all, Juanita Moore as her saintly, long-suffering mother absolutely steal this film. Bring plenty of kleenex, for you would need to have a heart of stone not to cry. Very, very highly recommended.

  • imitation of life

    • kevin sellers
    • 12/20/17

    Sirk the Great Subverter of 50s dominant culture strikes again, with this time an examination of the corrosive effects of white racism, both overt and subtle, the later shown in the magnificent funeral scene at the end where a guilt haunted black woman trying to "pass" is magnanimously taken back inside the bosom...and limo...of whiteness, while the people of color mourn on the outside. If this film is not quite on the level with "All That Heaven Allows," which skewered country club conformity and classism, it is only because Lana Turner and John Gavin are not as compelling to watch as Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson, especially Gavin who seems to have borrowed his stiff, Arrow Collar persona from Greg Peck at HIS worst. And while I'm glad Juanita Moore got an Oscar nomination for playing an African American character with a complex inner life for a change there is no denying that subtlety is not in Ms. Moore's bag of acting tricks. At least not in this film. And Sandra Dee is just plain awful. So for these acting sins let's give it an A minus.

  • Melodramatic Look At The 1950s

    • Trylon
    • 12/20/17

    I've seen this film several times and, without a doubt, it captures some of the misery and sorrow of US life when overt racism was an accepted part of daily life. For this reason, the script takes a courageous stand. The movie also conveys some of the astounding objectification of women in the 1950s. Some of those nightclub scenes are really depressing. Finally, the movie provides glimpses into American values, both good and bad, in the 1950s. Lana Turner is good in the movie but she is really just playing herself and she is a bit too perfect. She is glamorous and camera ready in every scene even when she is supposedly too poor to even afford eggs. Juanita Moore is very good as Annie, but she is so subservient to Lora. That scene when she is rubbing Lora's feet is just awful. And when surprised to find Annie has "friends" and belongs to a church and "several clubs", Lora is amazed. Why? They were living in the same house for over a decade for god's sake. Steve is also confusing. Lora throws him over and when he reappears ten years later, he has a woman with him and he later brings her to Lora's party. Then she magically disappears forever just so he can devote all his attention to a now very prosperous Lora. Did he kill that girlfriend or something? Annie is heroic in many ways but her life is relegated to thinking about death and planning a astoundingly lavish funeral. There are recent US presidents who didn't have such a grand final send off. For a woman who has "a little put away," the funeral is the very definition of melodrama. It's so over the top but it offers a setting for Sarah Jane, Annie's daughter, to play the prodigal and throw herself on Annie's casket. Sandra Dee is OK, but is a bit too Gidget, too sweet. She appears destined to be worried about waxy build up on her furniture and serving jello molds for desert once she finally does marry.

  • Poor annie

    • Dinah Abbott
    • 4/14/17

    Poor annie, didn't have a life, no man, just dreams of a funeral and death. A rotten selfish, self hating girl possible biracial bipolar nut. At least the first version of this film in 1934 gave annie a meaningful business and a sense of some pride. Not just some maid rubbing her so-called "friend" feet.

  • Tears, tears and more tears..

    • Cheryl
    • 4/14/17

    Beautiful movie.. I haven't cried watching a movie in years. Beautiful movie!!

  • Imitation of Life (1959)

    • Patricia Annette Moore
    • 4/14/17

    One of the most beloved and heartfelt pictures I have ever watched. I truly, truly enjoy viewing it everytime I can catch it on television.

  • Love this movie!!

    • DonnaS
    • 4/7/17

    I am such a fan, I started the "Unofficial: Imitation of Life - 1959" Group on Facebook. I am so excited to be a part of the past and future of this wonderful movie.

  • LIfe

    • Ellen Gabbert
    • 2/19/17

    Great movie as was the first. No one in this world could have sung that song like Mahalia Jackson. Thank you TCM for showing this movie.

  • Sad Surprise

    • Barbara
    • 2/13/17

    I love both versions of this story but the original is my favorite. In re-looking at the second version, I just observed the part where Troy Donahue actually beat up the young women when he found out her mother was not white. I would have thought that was bad for his image-surprise he took such a part. I don's recall a scene like that in the first version but will have to note the comparison next watching. It is always interesting to watch this type of story from a historical view.

  • Lana Turner!

    • Jack
    • 5/11/14

    Any movie with Lana Turner is a good movie!!


    • roblee
    • 2/14/14

    I have seen this movie several times thru the years and enjoyed it each time as I did a couple nights ago on TCM. It is so refreshing seeing beautiful people that know how to dress etc,etc. Lana Turner was gorgeous as usual and John Gavin is a great looking guy (along with Rock Hudson). I would like to see more movies with Gavin. I know he was in Hitchcock's 'Psycho'. This was a very moving story and sad at times that will keep you riveted to your seat.

  • Bold Melodrama for its Time

    • Delia
    • 2/7/14

    This is a groundbreaking look at one girl's experience as a mixed race child. Well, that's actually the subplot after the Lana Turner-going-to-be-an actress plot. But the issue of the mulatto child was quite groundbreaking for that time and right at the birth pangs of the Civil Rights movement. Some of the melodrama about Lana becoming an actress is predictable, but even that is entertaining with the outstanding players here. Standout showing here for both actresses who portrayed the mulatto daughter and her mom. And a really scary alley scene when Troy Donahue finds out that his date is passing for white. The closing scene of the too-late repentant mulatto daughter following her mother's coffin is heartbreaking. A true statement that love, loyalty, and goodness are not a color, but a character trait. You'll cry at the end.

  • insightful

    • barbara w
    • 1/3/14

    when I first saw this movie I cried on and off for two hours and every time after I kept wishing the ending would be different a wonderful movie with a beautiful in peace ms.moore


    • Henry Hoffman
    • 8/12/13

    Corny, contrived, but well-done w/in its inflamed aurora of melodrama. The film only uses racism as a pandering manipulation of pop hysteria. Juanita Moore is powerful & was Oscar-nominated, but a few years later, she was back to playing bit parts.

  • Imitation of Life

    • John
    • 8/5/13

    Overall-3/5Lead performers-4/5Supporting Cast-3/5Director-3/5Score-3/5Titles-4/5Screenplay-2/5Cinematography-3/5Importance-2/5Recommendation for fans of genre- 3/5


    • william gauslow
    • 8/1/13

    Great message. Not mentioned in other reviews is the beautiful colors in this color movie. Vivid reds, yellows and browns, yes. Its not easy getting a black americans facial color features correct. Done with class and excellance in this movie. This movie ranks #2 in tearjerkers, only to La Vien A Rose. I recommend a roll of paper towels. Kleenex just doesn't hold up to this wet onslot. Next time, enjoy the colors from start to finish.

  • Because of my mother

    • T.O.
    • 6/12/13

    I watched this movie along with many other classics with my mother. I'm a child/teen of the 80's & 90's; however, this was and still is one of my favorite films. The story of the mother/daughter relationship means more today than it did 50 years ago. And I still cry tears and tears when Annie passes away, Mahalia sings, and Sara Jane cries out to her mother. It will always have a place in my heart.

  • Kleenex, please!

    • RedRain
    • 6/8/13

    If you enjoy tearjerkers, this one is the all-time champion! I was 15 when I saw it the first time and it made such an impression that I rarely view it now, as it is so sad in so many scenes. The funeral at the end is just about more than you can take, particularly when the incomparable Mahalia Jackson sings "Trouble of the World" over Annie's casket! Lana Turner is extremely good here, as is Susan Kohner who superbly plays the girl who is of mixed race but wants to pass as white. Five years after her performance in this film, Kohner quit acting and married. She was married for 38 years, until her husband passed away in 2002. Kohner is 76 now.

  • imitation of whats true

    • Rickey Jenny
    • 1/24/13

    This is an excellent movie the kind that u never get tired watching. The premise of the mivie and the time period that it was released says alot about America at this time. Blantant racism and its damage to aa in society was exposed. The great land of freedom was being shown to hypocritical. AAs treated so much a contrast to the movie it was far worse and what showed the movie. The movie exposed sick side of American society. The movie in a lot of ways was a lie about society at that time in America. AA were treated far worse in that the was a lie untruthful even it was shocking and sad. U would think that a movie like this would be like uncle toms cabin effect on society in 19th society. Maybe it did in some parts of society. This movie is a classic. What i find disturbing about the movie is that in real society at that time not many whites would not stand by or up for anyone of color. For many were not brave enough or gave a damn to right an low down dirty wrong. I would pray that i was in a similar situation i would stand for what was right and not be a coward and live with that shame for rest of my life.

  • A Classic Mid-Century Fairy Tale.

    • 11/15/12

    Time has been very kind to this movie. Its air of bloated unreality now seems pleasingly quaint and it seems to emerge out of the mists of time as pure and as charming as a Disney classic cartoon, such as "Cinderella" or "Snow White". Its feverish excess is muted by the disconnect we now feel toward the period of its origin, when movies this "prefabricated" were the norm. It's now as mesmerizing as looking at a book of old Japanese prints or Norman Rockwell magazine covers. With the passage of time, we see better the art within the artifice and the morality underneath the sensationalism, as we would with any classic fairy tale. Now that it's a relic of the past and isn't burdened with being relevant to its era, it can be the beautiful flight of fancy it was meant to be. One question, though: What the hell is Troy Donahue doing in the cover illustration for the latest DVD release? A travesty.

  • memories

    • Elbie
    • 6/8/12

    I always enjoyed this movie.....I can remember it playing on tv and my sister and I watched it ( the scene where the mother and daughter say good bye in the hotel room) this scene is very sad and both my sister and I were crying never said a word watched the movie and went to bed....years later she gave the movie to me on dvd...and she said remember that 1 time we watched and cried??????.Elbie

  • Imitation of Life: A Look Back

    • Kim Bailey
    • 5/30/12

    I will always love this movie! Such a joy to watch! I am old enough to remember the 4 O'Clock movie...before cable, DVDs and IPAds we had free tv! Those afternoons after school I spent watching that channel or the soap operas with my Grandma! And Imitation of Life was and is still a favorite of mine! The performances of Juanita Moore and Susan Kohner are superb! They were definitely Oscar-worthy! Lana Turner and Sandra Dee were great...but clearly the movie's main focus was on race and what it meant to be Black in that era. One of the scenes that seem very relevant today is the issue of the dolls. One is is white. Suzy...Lora's daughter gives Sarah Jane, Annie's daughter the black doll. Sarah Jane wants the white one. She feels that white is right and black is not. Then there's the scene where They are living in a room in the back, and Sarah Jane complains to her mother about why are they always in the back? The movie makes you think as well as cry when Sarah Jane repudiates her mother. She just can not except being black...even if it breaks her mother's heart! What they did with their performances was give their all with their believed what they were saying. I wonder if that is what an actor/ actress is supposed to do? in the original...which is also good, but outdated because of the era (1934) that one didn't give the characters of Annie (Delilah played by Louise Beavers) and Sarah Jane (Peola played by Freddi Washington) enough range to work with. Annie seemed to be more of a friend to Lora than Delilah and Bea (Claudette Colbert). And...John Gavin (Steve) seemed to be a true gentleman in the film! Why on earth would a woman want to leave him for fame & fortune? Adding Mahalia Jackson at the end of the funeral was genius! Who doesn't cry over the song "Trouble of the World"? Definitely worthy to watch over and over again! Don't forget the hankies!!

  • "Imitation of Life" Absolutely Superb

    • jean
    • 12/7/11

    I have enjoyed this movie since I was 15 years old. I watched it with my my who have passed, but I still will continue to watch this great work of art. Please keep showing this moving twice a year, so more people can enjoy the superb talent that was stored upon film by all the actors and actresses especially, Juanita Moore and Lana Turner. You need to show this movie more often it is a masterpiece.

  • Lana Turner Was A Great Actress

    • David Atkins
    • 8/13/11

    Lana Turner after the Stompanato murder trial was just about broke and unemployable but Ross Hunter came to rescue. Universal insisted on Turner take a back end percentage rather than salary and Lana agreed. What resulted was a sensational box office hit and Lana Turner making millions of dollars, and resuming her career as a superstar of the first rank. Lana is so fine here one wonders why Lana Turner was not nominated for an Oscar. Universal and Ross Hunter gave this film a glossy great production and the picture was a smash hit worldwide.John Gavin then a Universal contract player stars as Lana's lover and Mahalia Jackson, Susan Kohner, Sandra Dee, and Troy Donahue are very fine as well. Lana Turner movies are great to watch and the star had an amazing body of work: The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Bad and The Beautiful, Peyton Place, Imitation of Life, and most notably Madame X

  • Best,Sadest Movie I ever Saw

    • CC
    • 5/10/11

    My Mother who is now deceased always made me watch this movie. She always said that I was like Sara jane. I guess because I was always racially ambigious. This movie alway shas and will touch my heart and soul, because it tells a story about mother and daughter relationships. I remember TCM or either AMC used to play this movie on Mother's Day and I was always forced to watch it; now that my own mother is dead I see know the significance of this movie. ANd I wish that it would be played more often

  • Racquel S

    • Racquel S
    • 2/10/11

    This is one of my all time favorite movies! No matter how many times I watch this movie, I always cry at the end. It is an excellent example why one should always be happy for what God grants them and not strive to be someone they were never intended to be.

  • Imitation of Life 1959

    • onika
    • 1/22/11

    A true depiction of the debilitating effects of racism on kids. Sarah Jane feels forced into self-hate and denial of her mom in order to escape the limits of racism. As a child kids spat on her when they realized she was not white. Later as she is older she realizes she cannot enter to living room during a party and must stay in the kitchen. She sees the white girl sitting on her mom's lap as she tells a story while she stands. The white female has dates, travels and a career while her mom serves. Her mom sees this as a great job since she probably lived through rapes, torture by the Klan and others, beating and lynchings. Lana turner 's character remarks ( after living with her for nearly 2 decades) "Why Annie, I never knew you had any friends. This reminds me of the concept of Blacks as the invisible man.A great movie.

  • Love This Movie!!!!

    • Cheryl Harris
    • 1/5/11

    I have always love this movie. This is the movie you will need to see with your daughter for mother-daughter time. My daughter is 11 years old and I think it about time she needs to see this movie. Lana Turner and Juanita Moore are just wonderful in this movie. I also like Sandra Dee in this one also. But I really like her in that movie Summer Place. So THANKS TCM in advance for showing this movie in March.

  • Imitation of Life (1959)

    • James Higgins
    • 1/5/10

    It is quite melodramatic, but melodrama like this doesn't happen that often. Exquisitely produced, good performances, particularly Juanita Moore and Susan Kohner. It has a phoniness to it, but it's still a very enjoyable and entertaining film. A real tearjerker. One of Lana Turner's best performances.

  • The mother lode for tearjerker fans!

    • DougieB
    • 3/17/09

    Where do you start with this one? It's the gold standard for this genre, which thrived in the mid-1950's through the mid-1960's. Lana had gotten her feet wet with movie motherhood in Peyton Place, so here she hits the ground running. We see early on how devoted she is to her daughter, so we're prone to forgive her later on when she makes her career the focus of her life. (Who could resist a reknowned Italian director begging you to play "only the greatest role since Scarlett O'Hara"?) She also sheds beau John Gavin in her rise to fame, and tunes out devoted confidante Juanita Moore. ("I never realized you had any friends, Annie.") Once the daughter grows up to be Sandra Dee, the disconnect becomes even greater, as they vie for the aforementioned beau. Lana's self-aware intensity, serves her well in melodrama, and here she especially benefits from audience good will toward the sublime performance by Ms. Moore, who has her own troublesome mother-daughter dynamic going on. This is the complete package. I can't believe I'm saying this, but they don't make 'em like this any more.

  • great year great movie

    • joseph siano
    • 1/30/09

    saw this movie 1959 in ny. first released. like i said a wonderful movie and a wonderful year.

  • Great Film!

    • MissMarti
    • 10/5/08

    This is one of my top ten favorite films. I absolutely love Lana Turner and I have bought several copies of her films. I also have Imitation of Life starring Claudette Colbert, same basic story line. It's also beautiful and I always loved Claudette Colbert films. I have copies of her films as well. I always wondered why they didn't remake this one in the 70's. The story would still be relevant. But not so much these days because people are more open about their heritage and celebrate individuality. Perhaps films like this help make people, young women have more pride and acceptance of themselves when they realize that their parents are just doing their best to give them all the love they have. Everyone should see both the 30's and 50's versions. Troy Donahue plays Sarah Jane's boyfriend. Very shocking to see him beating up on a girl!

  • wonderfull

    • Christine
    • 9/8/08

    One of the Best


    • Lady Sharrell
    • 7/28/08

    What can we say? Imitation of Life is one of the greatest films of all time discussing such strong,relatable and often times unaddressed topics all tied into one cinema feature. Now folks, that takes alot of work to tie in so many different but "lifely" like comparable themes all in one movie.I wish to starr in a movie as great or even greater than Imitation of Life on sweet day so chicks and gentleman...keep on your shades a new star is about to shine through! I'm going to be the next Lana Turner! If any of you would like to chat with me sometime about any of these yesteryear films, feel free to message me at ladysharrell88@yahoo.comGod Bless!!

  • On of the best movies of all times!

    • Robin E.
    • 7/2/08

    This movie has been one of my favorites for years. I remember seeing it as a young girl, and crying my eyes out. I bought it on VHS several years ago, and have re-watched it over and over again, and it still bring tears to my eyes. I was excited to see that it is now available on DVD. I'll be purchasing it, AGAIN. I love it! I think it's one of the best movies of all time.Robin E. in Surprise, AZ

  • cry me a river

    • rick wilson
    • 6/8/08

    my all time number one favorite. it will truly rip you heart out and shove itdown your throat. one of the few films that turn me into a sobbing mess every time i see it and i own it.the sets the costumes all over the top in glorious technicolor.annie is the woman that pulls your heart strings;and sarah jane well she is just plain old hot


    • 3/29/08


  • Love!!!

    • Daisy
    • 1/20/08

    I loved this movie so much that I had to buy it, and watch it once in a while.


    • kim beavers
    • 1/20/08


  • One of the BEST remakes ever!

    • wdeanne
    • 5/19/07

    This version of Imitation of Life is one of my favorite movies. This is one that the remake may slightly outshine the original. Although I like it almost as well. The storyline for both movies is great. The pace is good and the tears at the end are the same for me.This is a total 10 in my book.

  • Romance Secondary

    • mebemoonmad
    • 10/7/06

    To my mind, no matter which version of Imitation of Life you are discussing, it should not be classified as a "Romance," but rather as a "Drama." The denial of one's self-sacrificing mother and racial identity is much more the meat of this tale than the shallow triangle between Lana Turner and her daughter, Sandra Dee...I view it as a drama more than a soap opera-esque romance.Is it just me?


    • Anissa
    • 8/16/06

    This is definitely one of the best movies ever, from the cast to the storyline, to everything! They just don't make movies nowadays like they used to before. Filmmakers of today need to take a lesson from this movie. Such a touching portrayal of a mother's intense love for her daughter. Anyone with blood running through their veins is sure to either shed a few tears or be on the brink of it while watching this film. I could honestly watch this movie every day!!


    • 6/7/06


  • I beg to differ......

    • FrankieCee
    • 4/16/06

    I totally disagree with Molly Haskell's interpretation (4/15-4/16/06) of the part where Lana Turner says "what will happen to me" speaking in general and relating to Annie. It was not a narcissistic nor sanctimonious nor self-centered rhetorical remark, it was in essence her personal "tribute" to the unyielding admiration and love she had for Annie, that she had been such an itegral part of Lora's life, that "she" would be sorely missed beyond expanation and that life, as it was, would never be the same.


    • 3/19/06


  • Imitation Of Life

    • Philip Fischetti
    • 3/8/06

    A great movie about life.Both versions were good,one in 1934,and the one in 1959They don't make movies like this anymore.

  • Grab a hanky.....

    • Frankiecee
    • 3/1/06

    This tear-jerker will have you sobbing in no time. Although I prefer the earlier version with Warren William, this version is sufficient to get those tear ducts working alright. What I can't understand is "why" we always want more than we already have and are never satisfied with life as it has unfolded to us. It seems we are always looking for the "greener" grass of the other side and we don't truly know or appreciate just what we "do" have, until it is gone. Too late for apologies and tears then. This is definitely a movie worth watching....

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