Imitation of Life
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Imitation of Life (1959)
This glamorized remake of the 1934 film Imitation of Life bears only a passing resemblance to its source, the best-selling novel by Fannie Hurst. Originally, the heroine was a widowed mother who kept the wolf from the door by setting up a successful pancake business with her black housemaid. In the remake, Lana Turner stars as a would-be actress who is raising her daughter on her own. She chances to meet another single mother at the beach: African-American Juanita Moore. Moore goes to work as Turner's housekeeper, bringing her light-skinned daughter along. As Turner's stage career goes… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Imitation of Life is still a potent onion. When passed before the moviegoer's eyes, it may force theater owners to install aisle scuppers to drain off the tears."
‑ , TIME Magazine
"Forget those who decry the '50s Hollywood melodrama; it is through the conventions of that hyper-emotional genre that Sirk is able to make such a devastatingly embittered and pessimistic movie."
‑ Geoff Andrew, Time Out
"A consummate display of populist weepie-making."
‑ Ian Freer, Empire Magazine
"Glossy soaper ahead of its racially themed time."
‑ Steve Crum, Video-Reviewmaster.com
"Review Imitation Of Life is another of those Douglas Sirk melodramas that no critic had a good word to say about at the time of their release but are now widely considered movie masterpieces."
‑ , Film4
"While this device lends more scope, it also results in the overdone busy actress/neglected daughter conflict."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"Douglas Sirk's 1959 film was the biggest grosser in Universal's history until the release of Airport, yet it's also one of the most intellectually demanding films ever made in Hollywood."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"[VIDEO] Set in postwar New York, "Imitation of Life" is a wonderfully deceptive film."
‑ Cole Smithey, ColeSmithey.com
"Douglas Sirk's last Hollywood film is the jewel in his crown, a visually audacious, powerfully acted melodrama, with Lana Turner and Juanita Moore in top form, that was misunderstood and dismissed at the time as just a weepie or soap opera."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"The film is a biting critique of American race relations in the Fifties and a complex study in contrasts and paradoxes."
‑ Marjorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle
"This modernized remake of Miss Hurst's frankly lachrymose tale is much the same as its soggy predecessor. It is the most shameless tear-jerker in a couple of years."
‑ Bosley Crowther, New York Times
"You'll be horrified at how this hokum manipulates you, but the best strategy is to just surrender and enjoy it."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"What [the characters] need most from their maker is something he couldn't have given them at the time: the 1960s."
‑ Rob Nelson, City Pages, Minneapolis/St. Paul
"Sirk immediately and deliberately acknowledges the film's metaphoric, almost pathological obsession with surfaces."
‑ Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine
"The ultimate Sirk film, the contradictions breaking the back of the melodrama genre for all time and Sirk gobbling up and spitting out his Hollywood career like a badger devouring its young."
‑ Christopher Null, Filmcritic.com
More reviews for Imitation of Life (1959) on Rotten Tomatoes