Imitation of Life (1934)

Approved   |    |  Drama, Romance


Imitation of Life (1934) Poster

A struggling widow and her daughter take in a black housekeeper and her fair-skinned daughter; the two women start a successful business, but face familial, identity, and racial issues along the way.


7.5/10
3,693

Photos

  • Fredi Washington in Imitation of Life (1934)
  • Claudette Colbert and Juanita Quigley in Imitation of Life (1934)
  • Rochelle Hudson and Warren William in Imitation of Life (1934)
  • Claudette Colbert and Rochelle Hudson in Imitation of Life (1934)
  • Rochelle Hudson in Imitation of Life (1934)
  • Claudette Colbert and Warren William in Imitation of Life (1934)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


18 February 2003 | YoPec
Yes, it is a classic
I hope this film will be restored and put on DVD soon. It is a classic and a worthy addition to the film buff's library. Imitation of Life is not a perfect film, but considering that it was made in 1934, it deserves recognition. The film tells of two women, one white one black. Each has a daughter. Single moms and interracial friendships in 1934? Yes, it is true that the black woman, Delilah is subservient, but this is true to the times and she should not be criticized for it. Both these woman want a better life for their daughters and work together to do so. It is a sad, but realistic fact that neither daughter is happy with the better life. Delilah's daughter is very light-skinned and wants to pass for white for she knows in this era that the only opportunities are for whites. The later version starring Lana Turner is a poor substitute for this one. Lana tends to over act and the friendship between the two women is severely downplayed. It is true that in this film the camera seems to pause on the actors' faces over long, but this I think is a holdover from the silent film era when acting had to be done by facial expression instead of voice.

While this film is flawed it is a good film for young people in that it shows the changes made in our society both for single moms and for blacks.

Critic Reviews


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Did You Know?

Trivia

Eight uncredited writers contributed to the screenplay, including Preston Sturges and Finley Peter Dunne.


Quotes

Delilah Johnson: Bow your head! You got to learn to take it!


Goofs

When Elmer first comes into the pancake shop on the boardwalk, Beatrice leans on the counter with one elbow. In the next wider shot, she's leaning on the counter with both elbows.


Crazy Credits

Reissue prints of this film, issued after Carl Laemmle's ouster and retirement from Universal, read "The New Universal Presents [Claudette Colbert and Warren William in 'Imitation of Life']" rather than "Carl Laemmle Presents [Claudette Colbert and Warren William in 'Imitation of Life']"


Alternate Versions

The original theatrical release print of Imitation of Life featured different title cards, including a title card containing a brief prologue, which read: "Atlantic City, in 1919, was not just a boardwalk, rolling-chairs and expensive hotels where bridal couples spent their honeymoons. A few blocks from the gaiety of the famous boardwalk, permanent citizens of the town lived and worked and reared families just like people in less glamorous cities." When the film was reissued by Universal in 1938, the title cards were changed, and the prologue card was removed. All current prints of the film, including those used for the VHS and DVD releases, are struck from the 1938 re-release version.


Soundtracks

Home, Sweet Home
(uncredited)
Music partly composed, and arranged by
H.R. Bishop from a Sicilian air
Played by the band at the end of the party

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Drama | Romance

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