Now I understand the definition of drama v. melodrama.
I loved it and Lana was beautiful in those real jewels. The elaborate funeral at the end though, was really, really, really over the top. All that for a maid?
Sara Jane was a bitch to her poor mother.
Take a look at the 1934 version with Claudette Colbert and Louise Beavers. And Fredi Washington, who nearly steals it as Beavers' daughter.
Yeah, the 1934 version is really good.
You say take a look? Where can we see it? It's not available in our corner Redbox.
It was on the old movie channel tonight.
The maid paid for her own funeral with the wages she earned while working for Miss Laurel. Did you enjoy the look Miss Laurel 1st gave Annie when Annie said that Sarah Jane was her baby girl?
I wish there could be a remake, a al "Mildred Pierce"! I wonder who would be cast?
This movie made a lot of money. I think Lana owned a percentage of the profits.
Been so long since I saw it, but I seem to remember Troy Donahue, as the daughter's boy friend who beats her up. Also John Gavin as eye candy.
Everyone I know has good things to say about this movie. Personally, I feel it's too outdated. But am I ever glad I saw it in the first place.
[quote]All that for a maid?
a maid? Would this make a good property for me to remake with Viola? I don't usually like remakes but it would be a way to get Viola out of bed and back on her feet again after all the humiliation and failure of the last year and a half.
Yes, beautiful young Troy Donahue has exactly 5 words in the movie.
They are: Is your mother a N*GGER?!!!
And then he proceeds to beat the shit out of the girl who is trying to pass for white.
Per Wiki, the film cost 2million and pulled in 6.5million. Those emeralds and diamonds worn by Lana (exquisite jewelry) were on loan from a jeweler. It also states that Lana's costumes in the film cost slightly over 1 million dollars and broke all records for costume expenses---but that sounds like hype.
Lana got paid very little but had a back-end percentage on the deal making her very rich if the film was successful, which it was. This deal was made because Lana was no longer an ingénue and she had just come out of the Joey Stompanato murder thing (daughter murdered her boyfriend) and the studio wasn't sure her audience was behind her any longer.
Lana Turner's last interview. She died 7 months later from throat cancer. She looks like Nancy Reagan.
I will always believe that Lana killed Johnny yourself
Who is Johnny Yourself?
[quote]I will always believe that Lana killed Johnny yourself
I had nothing to do with it! I wasn't even born yet!!!
Why must I be accused?!?!
"The Maid", played by Juanita Moore, was even nominated for a supporting actress Oscar! That was real good progress for the negroes back then in the fifties!
but did she win r15? Isn't that what matters at the end of the day?
It was restored a couple years ago and I saw it in a theatre - WOW! I'd never seen it, loved it. Loved it, loved it, loved it. That is what melodrama should be. I then bought the dvd but have only seen it once. It begs for the big screen.
no, poor thing didn't. But, luckily she went on the other several successful projects. Even playing "Elvira" in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane!
The actress who plays Sarah Jane is also the mother of the two directors of the first American Pie, and I believe one of the Twilight movies. They also co-wrote AntZ.
I love AntZ
Juanita wasn't just a maid - she was Lana's companion and friend and she kept them all together when things were rough.
a rose by any other name....
That beautifully touching song by Mahalia Jackson:)! The production values alone. All those negro extras for the funeral scene and march. Miss Turner's gowns alone were enough to watch the movie!
My All Time Fave and I'm 83 years old now!
The funeral scene was radical for the time. What other mainstream film would have five minutes of close-ups of black faces with Mahalia Jackson singing in the background?
Susan Kohner was amazing. I love the scene where Sarah Jane, tired of being second-class, carries the hors d'oeuvre tray in on her head and says in a mock accent "Fetched y'all a mess a' crawdads, Miz Lora! Ain't no trick to totin'; I learnt it from my mammy. She learnt it from her ol' massa... before she belonged to you."
And then there's this scene, which is everything camp should be.
wasn't this remade as one of those depressed housewife movies Julianne does?
the goggle eyed staring line the director says is good stuff......anyone got the quote?
"I'm White, White, White"! Brings tears to me eyes I tell ya! I would love to see a remake with Octavia Spencer & Amanda Bynes! or even Selena Gomez!
I'm busy at the moment
Far From Heaven is supposed to be an hommage, but I like the original far better.
Susan Kohner was married to well known fashion designer John Weitz.
I saw that film in film class back in the 70's (yes, I'm old; also female); was trying to act all "cool"; friend of mine next to me was trying to act all "tough chick" (in and out of the class); we had our notebooks out (class was on Genre Films); anyway: by the funeral scene we were bawling like little girls!
Melodramatic, I suppose but I very moving film.
Sam Stagg, a Hollywood historian/writer, has written some great tell all books about some movie classics including "All About Eve" called "All About All About Eve" and "Sunset Boulevard." His book on "Imitation of Life" is quite good. Susan Kohner participated. Lots of pictures.
You can find used copies on amazon.
"Far From Heaven" is an homage to "All That Heaven Allows."
I couldn't stand how Juanita Moore blames it all on herself, saying Sara Jane's problem was that she loved her too much.
What fucking bullshit.
The difference in tone of the original versus the remake is shown best in the way the lead character reacts to her daughter’s crush on her boyfriend. Claudette breaks up with her boyfriend, while Lana tells her daughter to get over it!
Sandra Dee annoyed me to no end in this movie.
I watched it last night too. But I still prefer the 1934 version, mainly because Claudette Colbert is a much better actress than Lana Turner ever was, and Sandra Dee is a horrible actress.
I think the 1934 original is much better than the 1959 remake. As OP points out, there's a difference between drama & melodrama, & that's very plain when you compare the two versions.
I like the novel too, which promoted some pretty advanced views when published in 1933.
[quote]Fannie Hurst's inspiration in writing her novel Imitation of Life was a road trip to Canada she took with her friend, the black short-story writer and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston. ... Universal had difficulty receiving approval from the censors at the Hays Office for the original script they submitted for Imitation of Life. Joseph Breen objected to the elements of miscegenation in the story, which "not only violates the Production Code but is very dangerous from the standpoint both of industry and public policy." ... he rejected the project, writing, "Hurst's novel dealing with a partly colored girl who wants to pass as white-violates the clause covering miscegenation in spirit, if not in fact!"
[quote]no, poor thing didn't. But, luckily she went on the other several successful projects. Even playing "Elvira" in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane!
Maidie Norman played Elvira, not Juanita Moore. Most of the work Juanita Moore had after "Imitation" was in TV. And she's still alive today at 90 years of age.
In the 1934 version the maid's daughter was played y a black actress but in the later version by a white actress.
Can someone who has seen both versions explain why? Doesn't the girl have to pass for white in the earlier film?
It was a huge hit--Universal's biggest grossing film up to that point. Turner had had another big hit two years before in "Peyton Place"--she was still considered a major star.
A lot of people who start watching it in anticipation of a campfest end up sobbing at the end, per R32's experience.
I love this movie and I love the 1934 original version as well. Lana Turner and Sandra Dee's clothes were beautiful. The 1950s styles were elegant and just beautiful. Lana's jewels were just stunningly jaw dropping!
"Imitation of Life" wasn't just a "success"...It was literally the biggest hit of the year. Lana did indeed take 50% after net of all the grosses (including international)
After that, Lana never had to work again if she didn't fee like it. She took similar deals for the rest of her Ross Hunter films making her very rich.
My favorite camp scene was the montage of marquees displaying Lora's stage hits -- a scene that inspired another DL thread.
Barbra Streisand desperately wanted Lana Turner to play her mother in "The Mirror Has Two Faces." Lana wanted to do it, but she became too sick and was replaced with Lauren Bacall. It's a shame cause Lana would have won the Oscar.
R42, Susan Kohner, who plays Sarah Jane in the 1959 version, was half-Mexican.
I know that John Gavin was the poor man's Rock Hudson, but damn, that man was so good looking, better than Rock even. Yes, he was usually stiff and wooden in every film I've seen him in, but who cares...he was pretty to look at.
Fun fact: Susan Kohner is the niece of Frederick Kohner, who wrote the original Gidget novel. (And the cousin of Kathy Kohner, who was the inspiration for the character of Gidget.) And of course, her co-star, Sandra Dee, was the original film Gidget.
What IS Gidget??
[quote]In the 1934 version the maid's daughter was played y a black actress but in the later version by a white actress.
Can someone who has seen both versions explain why? Doesn't the girl have to pass for white in the earlier film?
Yes, R42, the daughter (Peola, played by Fredi Washington) does pass in the original movie. But the black actress was very light-skinned (& had green eyes, according to IMDb) & just looked sort of exotic, not necessarily black.
Fredi Washington sacrificed possible Hollywood stardom because she refused to pass. On the flip side, she was sometimes made to wear dark makeup in all-black "race films" when her characters were romantically involved, so audiences wouldn't think she was a white woman with a black boyfriend.
Just discovered a word today, thanks to DL: miscegenation, that is mixed marriages, mixed relationships and mixed children. Where is the day where people won't be classified as "white" or "black" when really more and more of us are just a mix?
R57 You must be awfully young.
I'm 35 and not American. Why?
The interiors of the funeral were filmed at my church, Hollywood United Methodist on Highland, just up from Hollywood Blvd.
R59, it wasn't until 1967 that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional in the case of Loving v. Virginia. Such laws were also on the books in Nazi Germany until 1945 & in South Africa during apartheid until 1985 -- they still exist in various Middle Eastern countries & parts of Asia.
"Barbra Streisand desperately wanted Lana Turner to play her mother in "The Mirror Has Two Faces." Lana wanted to do it, but she became too sick and was replaced with Lauren Bacall. It's a shame cause Lana would have won the Oscar."
Lana died in 1995, Mirror was shot in 1996.
Bacall was always Streisand's first choice to play her mother.
I would have gone to see TMHTF if Lana had been cast.
And alive, of course.
[quote]Lana died in 1995, Mirror was shot in 1996.
Lana was asked in 1995, but she was too sick and ended up dying. Lauren Bacall was actually Barbra's third choice after Lana and Liz Taylor.
I want my quack quack.
It's a shame because Lana would've finally won the Oscar that she so deserved.
I would have rather seen Lana in Mirror Has Two Faces, it's too bad she couldn't do it.
Of course, Lana Turner having Barbra as a (biological) daughter would have been preposterous, but it still would have been fun.
Thank you R61. Those laws I had heard of, I just didn't know the term.
Susan Kohnner is also the daughter of Lupita Tovar, who played the leading female role in the spanish language version of Dracula in 1931. She's still alive at 103 (she had birthday just a few days ago) and is the last surviving leading lady of those legendary Universal studios horror movies.
What is Lana's lesbian daughter, Cheryl Crane, up to these days?
R70 She's refereeing the cheese-ball contest at MichFest.
Lana was the wealthiest female movie star after Peyton Place and Imitation of Life. She took no fees on either films other than $10,000, but made over $6 million from her cut of the profits on both, which was huge in the 1950s.
She was very shrewd with money and wisely invested it, enabling her to be set for the next thirty years with minimal work.
[quote]"Far From Heaven" is an homage to "All That Heaven Allows."[/quote]
It's actually an homage to BOTH movies, if you read Todd Haynes interviews.
I've told my family I want an Imitation of Life funeral. Horse drawn carriage, Mahalia Jackson singing Trouble of the World, milkman crying in the front pew.
Also, John Gavin was at his peak of beauty in this movie. Just delicious.
It's a very good movie thanks to visionary direction. Even Turner is absolutely right in it in her own fake way.
But the dialogue is almost uniformly amateurish and on-the-nose. Moore and Kohner rise above it out of sheer talent. Sandra Dee is surprisingly good and has a terrific moment when she says to Turner what the entire audience has been thinking for the last two hours: "Mama, stop acting!" But the dialogue throughout most of the movie is so flat and obvious, it's embarrassing.
Gavin was so beautiful and such a LOUSY actor.
"You gonna need that algebra the way the prices keep goin' up."
I liked the original because Hattie McDaniel was not a maid but a coworker. It was her pancake recipe that led to all the money.
It was Colbert's knowhow that got the business off the ground and made it flourish.
McDaniel chipped in and cooked and worked alongside Colbert and got rich with her. She was a simple woman and continued to live with Colbert but had money of her own.
The remake Juanita Moore as good as she is is just the maid.
A companion yes but she doesn't contribute to any of the wealth.
The money comes from Lana the actress.
I agree, r78. But it was Louise Beavers who played Delilah in the original movie, not Hattie McDaniel.
Guess they all look alike to R78.
I would love to see the original. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to rent or stream most classic films. Netflix and Amazon Prime have only a very limited selection of the classics available for streaming.
Every once in a while, someone will post a classic movie on youtube, but
these are usually taken down quickly for "copyright reasons".
I think the first version is an overall better film, although I find Turner's transition from the poor, struggling single mother to famous actress more believeable than Colbert's transition to socialite.
Gracious, we've been talking about me all this time. Enough of that, please, let's talk about something else, like ME!
The linked website does an annual tally of almost 4,000 filmmakers, film critics, film academics, film journals, etc., to rank the top 1,000 greatest films of all time. For the 2013 tally, "Imitation of Life" ranks at number 155, just below "Performance" (1970) and just above "Brief Encounter" (1945); it moved up from number 238 last year.
Although the 1934 version has a real cringe inducing scene where Colbert and her business manager realized Beavers should get a cut of the income and they offer her 1/3 of the business (ahem, it was her recipe they were using) and Beavers starts to cry and plead "You don't want me around no more?!". She turns it down, but Colbert and her manager decide to still give her the money by depositing it in account, but not letting her know so as not to upset her.
At least in the 1959 version, once Lana makes it big, Annie is getting paid and she's saving the money for Sarah Jane to go to college and for her big funeral. And given how lavish that funeral was, Lana was paying Annie very well.
I've read that the whole Lana/Jane feud on Falcon Crest was hyped up to garner attention for the show, and that it's not true that their shared scenes were actually filmed separately and then spliced together. They certainly weren't bffs, but they were very cordial to each other and got on fine.
Thanks. I've already watched Pinky on youtube. I also recently watched the 1936 version of Showboat (20 x better than the 1951 version) thanks
to some kind poster on youtube.
But my point is that most movies from the 1930s and 1940s are not going to be big sellers on dvd, and don't generate much demand on the for-pay streaming sites. So why do Hollywood studios pull them off youtube when someone is good enough to put them up for viewing?
I would like to see this remade too but I don't think Viola should do another turn as a maid. There has to be another Black actress (not Octavia) that could play the role.
I also would love it if they used the old technicolor effect for it as well or just B&W. Really give it an old feel. The youngsters might stay away but the 90,000,000 baby boomers would see it and their money is just as green.
Does TCM have the rights to the original version? Which studio did it come from?
Louise Beavers and Hattie McDaniel both played the title role on "Beulah" (as did Ethel Waters).
TCM played it a few months ago. I think it was Claudette Colbert Night or something. That was the second time I ever saw it. The first time was approximately 10 years earlier on a late night showing on PBS during some classic movie showcase they used to air.
r88, there was an article recently (in the Wall Street Journal, I think, but I can't find it now) that classic movies are now selling better on DVD than current films because older audiences and film buffs are more likely to buy than are younger, casual film viewers; additionally, the profit margin is higher as there is minimal cost in the older films compared to the recent films.
"It's a shame because Lana would've finally won the Oscar that she so deserved."
Lauren Bacall is a better actress than Lana Turner ever was (not that that's nec. saying a great deal), Bacall was actually very good in The Mirror Has Two Faces, was certainly more believable as Streisand's mother than Turner ever would have been, was widely believed to be the favorite for the oscar, and didn't get it. Juliette Binoche was superb in the The English Patient (awful movie though it is but it won the oscar anyway; then again Mirror is a piece of shit); although Binoche's role was much more appropriately lead than supporting (she's certainly as much a lead as Kristen Scott Thomas, who was nominated as lead).
If Bacall didn't get it, Turner most likely wouldn't have either.
Juanita Moore, seriously?
R90, both the original & the remake were produced by Universal Pictures. TCM doesn't own the Universal movies but does license the use of individual movies from them -- I've the original on TCM several times. The TCM website has a DVD for sale with both versions of the movie.
I love these kinds of discussion threads! I just want to say I adore Lana Turner, and for me, the pinnacle of melodrama is Madam X. That was Lana's Oscar turn. She was magnificent. you think you cried when Juanita Moore's character died? Gurrrlll, you needed to see Lana die in Madam X. What a death scene.
Oh Em Gee. I love Imitation of Life, but Madam X is my definitive Lana Turner movie.
Interesting sidebars: John Gavin was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. I think by LBJ or JFK. As for the original, Fredi Washington had a sister who was very beautiful, too. Her sister married the Baptist Minister/ Congressman, the very flamboyant, hell-raising Adam Clayton Powell.
Has anyone here read the Fannie Hurst novel (or short story?) the original film is based on?
Just wondering how closely the film follows in plot or if, perhaps, the remake is closer?
Or if the book had to actually be softened for the censors and would be ripe for a remake now a la Todd Haymes' Mildred Pierce on HBO?
r97 I think he was appointed by Ronald Reagan
The 1934 film has aired many times on TCM. It's one of Claudette's classic films as a superstar.
John Gavin now, living in Ireland. I'd still fuck him.
Gavin was a conservative and probably a Republican, so Ronald Reagan makes more sense.
If I'm not mistaken, he didn't like being hit on by other guys, either.
And like R76 said, he was beautiful and a lousy actor.
R101 It's def the same smile. I'm very surprised he lost his hair on the top of his head.
[quote]I would love to see the original. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to rent or stream most classic films. Netflix and Amazon Prime have only a very limited selection of the classics available for streaming.
Just buy the double dvd on Amazon. It's not expensive.
r98, the original movie follows the book, the remake doesn't.
John Gavin is married to Constance Towers. He was such a wooden actor, barely registering in his scenes, but he was so damn purdy. That is the definition of a tall, dark, extremely handsome man.
He was physical perfection...I couldn't understand why Lana wouldn't give him a tumble...he was certainly a good man and crazy about her and her silly daughter.
Gavin seems to have flown under the radar. Any gay/bi rumors about him? He was so gorgeous, he probably had guys throwing themselves at him, and given his lack of talent, it's hard to believe he didn't at least take advantage of the casting couch from time time to secure some these of these roles.
Many, MANY years ago (1970) I was an apprentice at one of the east coast straw hat summer stock theaters and John Gavin came through, playing El Gallo in a production of The Fantastiks.
He was still very handsome (just starting to lose some hair) and very gentlemanly and well-behaved, even as every male and female apprentice threw themselves at him...clearly made for the diplomatic corps.
They wrote a play about spray cleaners?
I didn't want to pay $10 to get a dvd, especially when I recently watched the Lana version for free a couple of months ago.
But I just checked and you can watch the 1934 version of youtube.
It's $2.99. That's fine with me. I just don't want to buy a dvd I will only watch once.
Peyton Place is going to be on TCM next week. I already have it scheduled on my DVR. I love the actress who played the town slut.
They aired Return to Peyton Place last week, but I haven't watched it yet. Is it any good, or should I erase it?
R115, "Return" is only good when Tuesday Weld or Mary Astor is onscreen. Since you've recorded it, you can ff through all the crap that's in between their scenes.
[quote]Lana was asked in 1995, but she was too sick and ended up dying. Lauren Bacall was actually Barbra's third choice after Lana and Liz Taylor.
Streisand's first choice was Ann Sheridan, when she turned it down, Betty Grable was asked, but couldn't come to terms on pay.
Did Babs consider Dottie Lamour? Or Betty Hutton??
Huge fan of late end Lana Turner movies. Imitation, Many Faces, Peyton, Madame X -- love them all.
Thanks to whoever upthread linked to the DL thread of Lora Meredith's big hits. Of all actresses to cast as a hugely successful stage star ...
Lana was just the perfect movie star. She is great when she is young and juicy and she is great in the late 50s/60s movies. What a career. What a life.
Speaking of juicy -- count me in as another who drooled over John Gavin. Lord he was gorgeous!
[quote]Lana was just the perfect movie star. She is great when she is young and juicy and she is great in the late 50s/60s movies. What a career. What a life
I'm a big film addict, but I don't think it was until recently that I realized what a big star Lana was in the forties. Wikipedia has a page that lists the box office hits of each year. If you scan through the 40s, Lana has at least one film in the top hits each year--sometimes 2 or 3. A lot of these movies are justly forgotten (e.g., Homecoming, Cass Timberlane), but they were big hits at a time when most of the population when to the movies at least once a week.
In 1941, she was in three big hits: Honky Tonk, Ziegfield Girl, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
(These lists are interesting for another reason: the movies we still watch aren't necessarily the movies that were the biggest hits.)
Yes, public libraries in big cities are a good place to catch up on classic films. I recently saw Lana's "Madam X" on a dvd-loaner from our library.
But they did not have either version of "Imitation for Life".
If you're going to show a pic of John Gavin, then at least show him shirtless.
R124, check to see whether your library subscribes to either the LINK-PLUS or the Interlibrary Loan (ILLIAD) system -- members can borrow items from libraries all over the country & lend them to patrons. The DVD is in the LINK-PLUS catalogue.
Ah, sweet mystery of life at last I've found you!
Miss Dorothy Brown
[quote]Return" is only good when Tuesday Weld or Mary Astor is onscreen
Astor is just so good in that piece of crap. She was a great actress.
I agree, R128. Mary Astor improved everything she appeared in (& most of them needed it). Hugely talented woman, who also wrote books (2 autobiographies & at least 1 novel, not to mention her infamous diary). Interesting life -- deflowered by John Barrymore when she was 16 & he was 40, Hollywood stardom, alcoholism -- she must have been fun to know.
What film is that photo of shirtless John Gavin from??
I must have it!
R130, "OSS 117: Double Agent" (aka "Pas de Roses pour OSS 117" or "Murder for Hire"). Possibly John Gavin's best performance on film, which isn't saying much.
The shirtless Gavin photos make the movie look like an outrageous sex farce but the title seems to suggest otherwise.
The best line of the movie goes to Miss Lora's cuntastic "Why Annie, it never occurred to me that you had any friends.." Ouch!
Anyway, Sandra Dee is AWFUL in the movie and nearly ruins it. She plays her part like Gidget Goes to a Funeral.
Yes, Sandra De is very weak as Turner's daughter. But her immaturity
almost works, because the audience does not take her seriously as
a threat to Lana in her relationship with Gavin. Dee is "Gidget". Had she been more adult, more seductive, the mother/daughter competition for the same man wpuld have thrown the film off balance.
"Barbra Streisand desperately wanted Lana Turner to play her mother in "The Mirror Has Two Faces."
Please. As if anyone who looked like Lana could have a daughter that looked like Babs.
John Gavin is shirtless in the opening scene in "Psycho" . . . Janet Leigh is in a bra.
Hitchcock wanted to film Janet naked from the waist up, but 1960 standards wouldn't allow it.
Lora Meredith was such a self centered diva.
with a heart of gold
Lex Barker looks like he knew how to throw a brutal fuck. Bet he tore her juicy to shreds. Lucky bitch.
Douglas Sirk, the director, was a genius. His films, though dismissed condescendingly in the 1950s, are cinematic masterpieces of irony.
Of course, Lex Barker had a big cock. That's what Lana usually looked for in a man.
Both Lana and Arlene Dahl married Barker. Dahl was also married to Fernando Lamas, who had a famous affair with Lana.
So who had the biggest dick, Barker or Lamas? Who was the best fuck?
What did mid-century gossips have to say?
Turner Classic Movies showed Imitation of Life this past weekend. I've seen it a couple of dozen times already but can never resist watching again whenever it's on. This time I noticed they'd cut out a line of Annie's, in the scene in the old apartment kitchen when they decide Annie should stay with Lora:
"You wouldn't have to pay me no wages. Just let me do for you."
I guess that hits a nerve in an era of greater awareness of the abuse of unpaid domestic workers.
R139, Lana's daughter Cheryl Crane stated in her book that Lex Barker was abusive, physically and sexually, toward her and her mother. I wouldn't call that being lucky.
The Turner version of "Life" is now available on Netflix streaming.
I had recently seen a pirated version where the dubbing was way off. So I
am now watching the real thing.
R142, that line of Annie's may have been cut for Turner Classics, but it remains in the version streaming on Netflix.
I don't know what R142's agenda is but I just checked my DVR and the line is still there.