© 1959 Universal International Pictures

Imitation of Life (1959)

The central themes of Imitation of Life of race relations and light-skinned African-Americans “passing” for white were extremely controversial to say the least when the original novel was published when the original novel was published in 1933 and the first film adaptation was released the following year. The were still very much taboo when this remake was made 25 years later. But this is also a Douglas Sirk film, which is imbued with his trademark melodrama and lavish color cinematography by long-time Sirk collaborator Russell Metty, and elegant gowns for Lana Turner by designer Jean Louis. The Sirk style doesn’t really overwhelm the themes of race, but it does bring the drama, and the long friendship between Lana Turner and Juanita Moore’s characters more into the foreground, which actually adds a new dimension to the story.

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