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.


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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews

13 May 2005 | jahlaune
There isn't a black person who hasn't seen this movie and cried
This film is a part of growing up black in America. I saw it as a kid and I don't know anyone who hasn't cried. But, it is what it is, a true testament to the times. There is not much you can say. Lana turner did a great job on the remake but to me this is a bit earthier and I prefer to see the original and then see the 57 version. However, the pancake recipe bit is a bit ludicrous i mean how many secret ingredients can you put into pancakes. geesh Louise! Wonderful, keep it in your library at home and show it to your kids. I haven't seen a teenager yet that isn't fasinated and somewhat appalled by this movie. Its like listening to Billie Holidays Strange fruit. You are shocked but find yourself listening over and over again. To assure you have not missed anything.

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Did You Know?


Paramount loaned Claudette Colbert out to Universal for the film.


Beatrice 'Bea' Pullman: I've got Jessie... and you've got Peola.
Delilah Johnson: Yes'm. I've got Peola, Miss Bea. What am I gonna' do about that poor child? She's so unhappy.
Beatrice 'Bea' Pullman: You know, Delilah, I've been wondering, if it might be better if you could send Peola to one of those good colleges ...


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

End credits titled at the top "A great cast is worth repeating".

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.


Nobody Knows de Trouble I've Seen
Traditional Negro Spiritual
Lyrics by
Henry Thacker Burleigh
Played and sung by an offscreen chorus during the opening credits
Played as background music often


Plot Summary

Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Drama | Romance

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