User Reviews (11)

Add a Review

  • At the core of Anna Lucasta is a creaky plot that isn't seen often today -- the decent man who falls in love with the irresistible prostitute (see also The World of Susie Wong, Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Owl and the Pussycat, etc.). However, instead of focusing on the man's dilemma, Anna Lucasta focuses on the prostitute's family and friends. The screenplay is by a distinguished playwright and screenwriter, Philip Yordan, who based it on his own Broadway play, so it does have its moments -- an occasional good line, striking monologue, or clever exchange of dialogue. But it remains stagy, and the director's infrequent attempts to "open up" the play with cinematic devices don't work well.

    However, the movie is valuable because it preserves performances by prominent black stage actors who for the most part rarely appeared on screen, certainly not in major, non-stereotypical roles. Nearly every actor and actress in the film is given a moment to shine, and they all acquit themselves well, with the possible exception of the great actor Rex Ingram, who sometimes chews the scenery as Anna's drunken and vengeful father. The beautiful Isabel Cooley, in a small role as Anna's sister, is a revelation here.

    Eartha Kitt always plays Eartha, but her Anna more than adequately shows many facets -- on the edge of hard-bitten, but still yearning to be accepted as innocent and sweet, attracted to the fast life, but hurt and wounded and feeling unloved. And Sammy Davis' performance is much better than the reviews he received when the movie was released or on IMDb. He plays Anna's other suitor, who loves her in his own fashion, but who wants her as a companion for good times and partying, not as a wife. He's shallow, but he has a core of decency and concern for Anna, and Davis portrays both sides well. (Think of Sammy as Sportin' Life in Porgy and Bess, whom he would portray in the same year, but with depth.)
  • This movie is frequently on a basic cable channel this month but I had seen the movie years ago.It still holds up.I think Eartha Kitt captured the personality of "Anna" completely and Sammy Davis Jr. did a good job in the role of "Danny." I felt like I was watching a stage play and I was never bored.Since it was practically unheard of for an all Black cast to do a film where the characters weren't all servants,slaves or criminals ,I enjoyed the actors being like actors in most movies.Some better than others etc."Rudolph" was the weakest role,"Stella ","Kathy".and "Stanley" barely had anything to do but "Frank" was spooky since he kept smiling all the time even when he was hitting and abusing "Mr. Lucasta."The previous poster was incorrect when he said "Rudolph" was the son of evil,shifty "Frank."He was the son of "Mr.Lucasta's" very religious friend from down south who wanted the "Lucastas" to find a wife for his farmer son."Frank" was "Stella's" husband and the son-in-law in the family.I would love to have this movie on VHS or DVD.Eartha Kitt was on TV today and she is still very pretty and youthful looking.Funny since the movie was black & white you can't tell that Miss Kitt is very light-skinned as was the mother,"Kathy",and "Stanley" and another prostitute.The actress playing "Stella" years later would play "Mother Winslow" on "Family Matters." I have never seen the version with Paulette Goddard playing Anna but I would like to just to compare the two movies.
  • Having just watched Eartha Kitt in St. Louis Blues, I went back to Netflix Streaming and then saw her other 1958 release of Anna Lucasta. The title character she plays is a street walker (to use the euphemism of what is often referred to as the "world's oldest profession") in San Diego who likes it whenever sailor Danny Johnson (Sammy Davis Jr.) stops in at Noah's (Alvin Childress) bar. But since Danny's not interested in making her an honest woman, she leaves when her estranged father Joe (Rex Ingram) picks her up to take her home even though the two left on bitter terms years previous. I'll stop there and just say that it took a while to get used to the mostly speedy delivery of lines as directed by Arnold Laven. In fact, I didn't realize that Joe's son-in-law Frank (Frederick O'Neal) was a pretty greedy fellow. Since this was made during the production code era, the word "prostitute" is not used and we don't get the full picture of how abusive Joe was to his daughter though to judge by his drunken scenes, he certainly could've recognized how desirable she became as she grew. Though she has a nice revelation scene with potential suitor Rudolph Slocum (Henry Scott), Ms. Kitt really sparkles whenever she's with Sammy Davis Jr. especially when she's looking at him and she sees him dancing as director Laven cuts to him doing just that as well as playing drums. In fact, the second part was more entertaining than the first hour. So on that note, I recommend Anna Lucasta. P.S. Arnold Laven was a native of my birthtown of Chicago, Ill. Rosetta LeNoire who was Stella would later go on to fame as the grandmother on "Family Matters". And, yes, Alvin Childress was previously Amos Jones on "The Amos 'n' Andy Show".
  • Hugely overwrought drama that seems to take great pleasure in making Eartha Kitt's seaside hotsy – totsy suffer as much as possible for apparently dancing and drinking too much.

    Anna Lucasta is a prostitute banished from her home by her father. It's never made clear which came first; did she become a prostitute due to being thrown out of the house at an early age, or did she do something to shame the father? If the story she tells her potential fiancée is to be believed, then her hotheaded, bible thumping, vaguely incestuous father seems to have more than a few screws loose.

    After several years Anna returns to the fold when there appears a chance the family can marry her off to a rich family friend. One can see how Anna might look at this as just another form of prostitution, but the film strains credibility when we are asked to listen to all the family members (the decent ones that Anna shamed) debate over the best ways to get the suitor's money by "selling" Anna to him. The moral tone of the film takes a big shift.

    Once Anna returns home and does a bang-up job of sweeping the young man off his feet on her own, the film bogs down in one too many scenes of the REALLY annoying father (Rex Ingram) having sweaty, bug eyed fits.

    To me, this father character is an enigma. He is cruel and brutal and downright evil and yet Eartha Kitt's character is made to grovel for his approval every second. And what are we to make of his lustful looks at Anna that turn into rages? His outbursts are so off the wall (and over acted) that they truly try your patience. I have never wished for a character to have a heart attack so much.

    Filling out the plot is sailor/cab driver Sammy Davis Jr who is fine but seems too slight for the filled-out Eartha. She looks like she can pick him up and haul him over her shoulder.

    Though I find the film enjoyable and catch it whenever it's on TV, many of the performances are a tad overripe and the 50's moralizing gets to be a bit much.

    Makes a nice companion piece to "St Louis Blues," another Eartha Kitt film that features a loony, moralizing father character.
  • When Sammy Davis Jr and Eattha Kitt act together it's dynamite and a feast for the professional cinéaste. But they are not alone. Equally prominent is Rex Ingram as the father in a completely wayward character that can't control himself, disoriented in life, lost in booze, all mixed up because of his beloved daughter, that he felt he had to banish from his life forever, without succeeding - he is the one who begs her to come back. This is a great play enacted with grim intensity and empathy concerning all the characters, including the mother, the suitor, the family and even the lower people at the joint. An important part is played by Elmer Bernstein's music, ingeniously illustrating the rapidly changing moods and trains of thoughts, also including a fabulous show scene with Sammy going solo - this is actually the apex of the film and story, a spectacular visualization of Anna's downfall and helplessness in the hands of the totally irresponsible Danny, who loves her none the less, but like everybody else, not even he can control his love or his feelings but drifts to the storms of his caprices. In fact, Anna, the fallen woman, adored and despised by them all, is the only one with a character, while the others are hopelessly and helplessly without. But what fabulous acting by these three main characters! This is truly a film to enjoy for a theater and drama gourmet. 9,5 would be my vote.
  • samtrak120420 February 2010
    I can see why Eartha Kitt has always been a gay icon and why her legion of gay fans - black and white - kept her working during the twilight years of her extremely long career in show business. She's campy, witty, sexy, and vulnerable...and a very funny funny girl with a very sharp tongue especially when she delivers her trademark rapid-fire one-liners in the opening barroom scene. Her grand entrance is over-the-top and her timing perfect. In a perfect world Kitt would have been right up there with Marilyn Monroe, Barbra Streisand, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Crawford and Rita Hayworth...BUT she was BLACK...and Hollywood has had few decent leading roles for black actresses like Kitt, Dandridge, Horne...or even Halle. The black family in this movie is captured with humor and dignity by a sterling cast of black actors hungry for work other than playing maids, butlers, African natives, and southern slaves. "Anna Lucasta" is a Black Classic.
  • bkoganbing5 March 2014
    It took a long time for Philip Yordan's play Anna Lucasta to get made into a film and it turned out to be a good showcase for the talents of stars Eartha Kitt and Sammy Davis, Jr. The play ran on Broadway from 1944-46 and had 957 performances on Broadway. Several of the cast members in supporting roles returned for the screen. I'm sure that there were wartime references in the play that were cut out for the screen version as Sammy Davis, Jr.'s part was that of a sailor.

    Sailor and general all around good time guy Davis's favorite call when in San Diego is Eartha Kitt in the title role. Some years earlier Kitt was caught getting down with some boy by her self righteous father and cast out of the home and drifted into prostitution.

    But now her father Rex Ingram has come looking for her wanting her back. He thinks she will make a good wife for the son of an old friend from Alabama who has come to California. Henry Scott also has $4000.00 from his father and Anna's family who isn't the classiest bunch around also eyes him with that bankroll like an expensive cut of meat in a butcher shop.

    She marries Scott, but Davis ain't finished. Soon enough Kitt has some real marital issues. Scott is a decent enough guy, but a bit naive as to the ways of the world, surprising for someone who wants a career teaching agricultural science like George Washington Carver.

    As for Davis I think this role may have caught the eye of Otto Preminger who cast him in the very similar part of Sporting Life in Porgy And Bess the following year. Eartha Kitt shows off all her slinkiness that made her famous, but like Lena Horne Hollywood did not know what to do with her. I also think that she may have been a second choice behind Dorothy Dandridge good as Kitt is.

    Anna Lucasta is a good film and a great chance to see Eartha Kitt and Sammy Davis, Jr. in their salad days.
  • Eartha Kitt sizzles in this film about a tough young woman who we first meet in a San Diego bar, fending off unwanted advances by sticking a cigarette into a guy's neck. She's just scraping by, having been thrown out of her house by her father. We gradually get the idea she sells herself to sailors, one of whom is the fast-talking Sammy Davis Jr., who appears here in his first acting role. She's taken back home by her father for ulterior reasons, and meets an intelligent young college graduate (Henry Scott). Can she 'make good' with the young man, despite the shame of her past?

    Kitt is fantastic, and plays scenes of defiance, anger, out of control partying, tenderness, vulnerability, and grief all very well. She's a delight to watch, as well as to listen to, with that fabulous, silky voice. Sammy Davis Jr. more than keeps up with her with snappy, hip dialog and a short dance scene that shows just how light on his feet he was. The script has plenty of innuendo, and Kitt's look when Scott asks her what she did down in San Diego is priceless. "I didn't go to college," she purrs. But my favorite line is when Davis Jr. says in an impassioned tone, "You and me, we're real people, Anna. We're the real stuff. Many's the time we set the Earth on fire. You stick with me and we'll burn it up!" It's a great scene with a lot of emotion, and he is marvelous in it.

    The supporting actors in the cast are reasonably good as well. Rex Ingram plays her alcoholic father who would probably win the "worst father ever" award if it existed, and Frederick O'Neal is her opinionated brother-in-law who is also pretty hard to like, though both do fine jobs. Georgia Burke is the sweet mother who never loses faith in her daughter, and it's nice to hear her singing around the house. Aside from her singing and the nightclub music, however, the background music in the soundtrack is pretty mediocre.

    The film does have a low-budget feel to it, and the quality of print that I saw was unfortunately much worse than others from this time period. For the most part it's pretty ordinary filmmaking, but I did notice some subtle things in the background of a couple of shots that were interesting. In one, as Anna wrestles with her sad past, assuming it won't be good enough for her new suitor, she stands in front of a photography store window which has pictures of smiling people, including a large one of a happy baby. In another, as she's with her father, trying to reconcile with him (which is a surprise given his past treatment), a stitchery hangs in the background saying "God is Love."

    It was very refreshing to find that the film had no stereotypes. While it's a dysfunctional family straight out of Tennessee Williams and therefore a bit extreme, the script could have been performed by an all-white cast without a single change. I loved seeing Eartha Kitt and Sammy Davis Jr., especially Kitt, and it's no wonder Orson Welles called her "the most exciting woman in the world." She is as gorgeous as she is talented. There are a couple of moments in the plot that stretch credibility, and it gets a little melodramatic for sure, but it's also highly entertaining and deserves a higher average rating for the star power.
  • Meowwwww... Eartha Kitt, ten years before she was Catwoman on "Batman"! This film not only co-stars Sammy Davis Jr, but that's also him singing the "Anna" theme. Things are pretty rough for Anna as the film opens. She's been tossed out by her family, even to the point of not have a place to sleep. But... just as things might be turning around for her, she runs into her old sailor friend, Danny, (Sammy Davis) and his pal Lester. Anna isn't sure if she likes either one of her options... her old sailor buddy that doesn't want to get married, or the "friend of the family" that is staying in town looking for work. Rudolph is played by Henry Scott, and it looks like this film is the only thing he ever did. and just when things are finally looking up for Anna, more people are running interference against her. Based on a play by Philip Yordan. He had just won the oscar for Broken Lance. "Anna" was first done by a white cast (1949), then later done by a black cast (1958). This is quite good, and i'm glad that Turner Classics is showing it. and now that I've seen THIS version, of course i want to see the 1949 Paulette Goddard version too. Highly recommended, if you can catch it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    *Possible Spoilers* ABOUT THE MOVIE / CHARACTERS: I enjoyed this movie. It is a movie about redemption. Anna Luasta's family in many ways is classic example of a dysfunctional family. The brother in law is a total bully with no redeeming qualities. Anna's sister is a great match for her bully of a husband, whose monologues, which are intended to impress, reveal his ignorance and lack of education. Anna's brother is a hen pecked husband, by his brother-in-law and wife. The only likable members of Anna's family is the mother, who seems clueless about the undercurrents in her own home. Joe, Anna's father is the most conflicted. An alcoholic, he appears to be guiltily repulsed by Anna. His anger seems almost displaced; why does he hate her so? Or, does he really hate himself? Why does he seem to take sadistic pleasure in hurting her? There was a time that Joe doted on Anna. What happened? The conflicting nature of their relationship is apparent to the end of the movie (which I have not revealed obviously). I was a bit surprised at the ending and I think you will be too.
  • 'Anna Lucasta' was originally a stage play with a white cast, filmed in 1949. A few years on from its debut, the play's original author (Philip Yordan) re-staged it with all the roles played by African-Americans. This was considered something of a gimmick at the time, but the gimmick was still fresh a bit later when Pearl Bailey played the Jewish matchmaker Dolly Levi in an all-black Broadway production of 'Hello, Dolly!' And before 'Anna Lucasta', there was Bizet's opera reworked with African-American characters as 'Carmen Jones'.

    I'm hugely a fan of Sammy Davis Jnr, who plays the male lead in this all-black remake, so I was curious to know why his ghost-written autobiography 'Yes I Can' made almost no mention of 'Anna Lucasta'. Now I know. The film is not very good. As young sailor Danny Johnson, on leave and looking for some lovin', Davis is physically well-cast but gives a poor performance. He would later prove himself a dramatic actor of considerable subtlety, but at this point in his career Davis was primarily a musical performer, and in 'Anna Lucasta' he seems desperate for an excuse to burst into song or dance. With no music cues to fall back on, Davis overacts shamelessly here.

    The title role is played by Eartha Kitt, whom I've always found painful to watch. She really overdoes the feline routine. It was acceptable when she played Catwoman (literally a comic-book character) or in 'Shinbone Alley', in which Kitt actually played an alley cat, but 'Anna Lucasta' is a serious drama requiring some subtlety, and the words 'Eartha Kitt' and 'subtle' don't fit into the same sentence. I got a big laugh a few years ago, when Eartha Kitt was exposed as a pretentious know-nothing. In 1998, she made a public statement that she was a lifelong devotee of astrology: she had scrupulously followed her horoscope, and it had guided her through her successful career. Shortly after she made this statement, someone located Eartha Kitt's birth certificate ... and it turned out that, all these years, she'd been following the horoscope for the wrong birth date!

    Anna Lucasta is a small-town girl whose father Joe is outraged at her moral lapses, so he orders her out of his house. Then he hypocritically tries to reconcile with her for selfish reasons, hoping to marry her off to Rudolph. In the important role of pious Rudolph, actor Henry Scott is too stolid and stodgy. If he had been a bit more energetic, and Sammy Davis had been a bit *less* energetic, this would have been a better film.

    The primary blame for this film's flaws should go to author Philip Yordan, who adapted his own script for the screen. 'Anna Lucasta' comes off like a poor imitation of several Eugene O'Neill plays, specifically 'Anna Christie' ... which even has a similar name. Changing the characters into Negroes (to use the 1959 terminology) gave roles to some black actors but was not otherwise a good idea. 'Anna Lucasta' takes place in a sleazy semi-noir universe, in which a sexually attractive woman can only be a slut or an outright whore. By populating that universe with African-Americans, and excluding any positive role models -- there's not one genuinely sympathetic character in this entire piece -- Yordan has (perhaps unintentionally) implied that humanity's negative traits are typified by black people.

    I'll rate this movie 3 out of 10. Much as I dislike Eartha Kitt, she has done better work elsewhere. So has Sammy Davis Jnr.