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Imitation of Life [VHS]
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Customer Reviews:

  • Well pleased
    First, I was very surprised to find this old movie. My daughter wanted it as one of her gifts so I was happy when I saw that Amazon had it. It was shipped promptly and the free shipping deal is great, Thanks Amazon!!...more info
  • My Favorite All Time Movie
    I am in my 50's, and although I first saw this movie while still a teenager, it has remained my favorite movie of all time. A story of two women, one white, one black, who, during a highly prejudicial era, become accidental friends due to compassion and necessity and remain friends until one's death. While Lana Turner (Lora) and Sandra Dee (Susie) are the "stars" of the movie, in reality it is Juanita Moore (Annie) and Susan Kohner (Sarah Jane)who were nominated for Academy Awards and have kept me fascinated with it for the last 40 years. Lora is a wannabe starlet who meets Annie, a homeless mother when their daughters, Susie and Sarah Jane meet and play together on the beach. Lora takes Annie and Sarah Jane home with her and while Lora supplies a roof over their heads, it is Annie who does the "hard work" by running the house with virtually no money and raising both girls as Lora chases her dreams. As the years pass, these four become a family as Lora reaches her goals of fame and fortune, allbeit at the expense of her relationship with Susie, and Annie continues to work for her keep long after the necessity is gone. It is the extra dynamic of Sarah Jane breaking Annie's heart with her desire to be white and "passing" to the extent of cutting all ties with her mother that makes this movie so gripping. And, if the end doesn't make you cry, you're not human. This is a classic, and you won't be sorry you purchased it. I think I'll go watch it again....more info
  • This is no mere imitation...
    `Imitation of Life' is quite moving at times despite being `politically incorrect' as some will surely label it. It has held up over the years and remains poignant even in our modern world where race relations are no where near as tense or as controversial as they were in the 50's. With some stellar performances and intricate character detail, `Imitation of Life' is truly an enjoyable film.

    The film opens with a beautiful blonde named Lora frantically searching for her daughter on a crowded beach. Her daughter, Susie, has found a playmate in young Sarah Jane. As Lora finds her daughter sharing a snack with Sarah Jane and a strange black woman she is come over with relief. A few candid photos and a subtle, yet desperate, plea later and Lora opens her home to this black woman, Annie, and her daughter Sarah Jane. What unfolds next is a friendship and a bond that forms between these two women and their two daughters as the years trickle by and their life is filled to the brim with drama and tension.

    You see, while Annie may be black, her daughter Sarah Jane is as white as can be (looks like her father, or so we are told) and so Sarah becomes determined to live as a white girl, even if it means destroying her family.

    The film tells two stories, one focusing on Lora's acting career and her on-again-off-again romance with photographer Steve Archer; the other focusing on Annie's struggle to get a handle on her daughter. Lora also has some daughter issues, as Susie grows up and falls in love with Steve while her mother is away shooting a film. It seems that Lora's career is destroying her relationship with her daughter, as Susie begins to confide in Annie. Sarah Jane, determined to rid herself of any ties to her black mother, has run away from home and continues to pose as a white girl, hoping and praying for a better life.

    But the life she gets is not the one she hoped for.

    The performances for the most part are all stunning. Lana Turner is beying stunning, and she carries her scenes well enough. The thing is, she is no match for Juanita Moore, who just devours her every line with such authentic realism. It's a shame that the whole `big white star' syndrome was in effect at the time, since in my opinion Moore is much more a lead than Turner, whose story arc is far less precedent or even poignant than that of Moore's. As far as the daughters are concerned, Sandra Dee and Susan Kohner both deliver very good performances. Dee is a little more even than Kohner, but she's less effective. Kohner is very, very good in some scenes (especially the `don't recognize me' scene) but she is uneven in some of her earlier scenes (and that dance scene is painful to watch). Dee is much more consistent, but she doesn't have any powerful scenes to make her truly spark. The male stars take a major backseat in everyway to the female ones, but John Gavin, Robert Alda and Dan O'Herlihy all deliver nicely.

    The film may not be as important as it once could have been considered, but it doesn't feel as out of date today as some might think. This is definitely a film to see, especially for Moore's amazing performance. Touching and sincere, this is a film that will break your heart; so consider yourself warned....more info
  • Always Lana
    Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here to pay immaculate homage to one of the major Kweenie Klassix of the last century, Ross Hunter's production of *Imitation of Life*. Based on the Fannie Hurst story, it is remake of the original 1934 version that starred Claudette Colbert, as "the pancake queen." Well, the pancake queen may be fine for Claudette, but certainly not for Lana Turner, who, in this version, plays a Broadway actress named Lora Meredith. We have to face facts: the star machine made Lana look great, but nothing helped her acting. She was dreadful, and far too mannered ever really become her characters. But she was straw turned into gold - the consummate Hollywood star, completely manufactured, with lush, bosom-heaving vehicles designed especially for her. Though only after Lana's 14 year-old daughter, the notorious Cheryl Crane, stabbed Lana's gangster boyfriend to death, did Lana develop the ability to make the characters become herself. The cannibalistic studios went into overdrive with projects that took advantage of Lana's infamy. *Peyton Place* was still in the theatres, and support for Lana throughout her tragedy was profound.
    On the heels of this, came *Imitation of Life*, the story of a struggling young actress single-handedly raising a daughter Susie (Dee). They meet up with a lovely, well-spoken homeless woman, Annie (Moore) who is black, and her two-toned daughter, Sarah Jane (Kohner) who hates her blackness more than anything on earth. Annie, who doesn't know how to take "no" for an answer, insinuates the lives of her daughter and herself into those of Lora and Susie, and stays with them through the lean years until Lora's a huge success. The "young" part is the most treacherous for Lana - her character ages 20 years by simply removing her bandana, and the strange part is, the fashions never change over the course of those twenty years. Let's do a little movie arithmetic, shall we? At the end of the film, Lana's character, Lora, is a major star with a grown daughter, so we can presume that part takes in the present day of 1959. In theory, most of the early action would occur in the 40s. There is absolutely zero indication of time passing, except when they pull the old switch-a-roo with the daughters, substituting Dee and Kohner for the younger actresses who played them in the opening. But, of course, it would be a number of years in the future (until 1966's *Madame X*) before Lana would be allowed to actually age onscreen.
    According to Lana's daughter, Cheryl, Lana instructed her to "walk as if she had a nickel tucked between her buttocks." Lana demonstrates this technique throughout out the entire film, and it is this same tight-assed approach to acting that makes Lana one of the most fulfilling bad actresses to watch (my mother once pointed out that Lana Turner's name spelled backward was Anal Renrut). Her acting, or better yet, posturing, is strictly by-the-book, but she gives the viewer everything they could desire from the glamour standpoint. Sandra Dee is her usual bubbly self and the dynamics between her and her mother never raise fireworks until the end, but the Kohner-Moore combination is spectacular. The long-suffering Moore made a career out of parts like this, but nothing surpasses Annie's dedication to the Great White Lady Benefactress, Lora Meredith. Kohner's as Annie's daughter Sarah Jane is fabulous - a trashy, tawdry little ingrate who feels she's entitled to everything Susie has. What she doesn't have, and will never have, is Susie's lily-white skin, but that doesn't stop her from `passing.' Annie confides to Miz Lora, "How do you explain to your child that she was born to be hurt?" Sarah Jane's white boyfriend (Troy Donahue) beats her to a pulp when he finds out, and she eventually runs off to be a showgirl. Annie tracks her down, and begs her to come home, but is completely rejected, breaking her heart and returning to Miz Lora's with one foot on the grave. Meanwhile, Miz Lora's been romanced by the handsome Steve Archer (Gavin), but he wants her to settle down and be his wife and give her a home. "I want more than that," she tells him, "I want everything." They break-up even though he loves her from afar. She parades around in her Jean Louis gowns, with an array of abusive and manipulative men (this is where it becomes hard to distinguish Lora, the character, from Lana, the actress), all of whom help her up the ladder to the pinnacle of stardom. Years later, Lora runs into Steve again, and their love burns brightly anew. As Susie's graduating from school, Lora's flying off to Italy to make some horrid little film, and appoints Steve as chaperone for Susie while she's gone. In a *Mildred Pierce*-ish turn of events (or better yet, a "Rikki Lake"-ish turn of events), Susie falls in love with her mother's boyfriend, and there are all kinds of mother/daughter problems. Annie's slipping away quietly, but not without planning the grandest funeral - one rivaled only by that of Princess Diana. With weeping crowds, prancing horses and the incomparable Mahalia Jackson singing "Trouble of the World" Annie is dispatched to her great reward, but not before her turncoat daughter shows up and hurls herself on the casket sobbing and wailing. This watershed moment is one of the most well-loved scenes in movie history.
    The film is Douglas Sirk's (*Written On The Wind* and *Magnificent Obsession*) appropriately lavish farewell to Hollywood. It is camp at its finest and remained Universal biggest moneymaker until *Jaws* in 1975. Though Leonard Maltin says "Fine performances and direction overcome possible soapiness to make this quite credible and moving," and gives it 3.5 stars, I'd give it 5 stars - but there is no solar system in which this movie could be called credible. Credibility is something we simply do not expect out of Lana Turner. What we want out of her is the fantasy of the Hollywood Sex Goddess and she gives us that in spades....more info
  • Merciless portrait and not so far from the reality!
    Lana Turner made a superb tour de force acting with this legendary cult movie as a greedy artist who neglects the love requirements of her daughter due the fame . This film might well inspire to Bergman for Autunum Sonata in 1978.
    But in the other hand we can follow the parallel dramatic line in which Juanita Moore daughter repudiating the heritage of her mother passes for white breaking her mother's heart .
    Only the golden masterful craft of Douglas Sirk could turn the twist of this melodram soap in a colossal and yet watchable film in a special decade as the late fifties where the racism and the evasion to find out new places were in its peaks.
    The script is very credible and touching heart . Nobody must miss this fundamental icon of the american cinema .
    Douglas Sirk inspired to that giant german film maker in the seventies named : Rainer Werner Fassbinder and also to R.E.M. for their so well known theme of the same title in the late nineties .
    ...more info
  • DVD: Imitation of life
    I grew up watching this movie with one of my older sisters and we were just recently turned on to Amazon and and figured because they fetured everything under the sun,"let's look for all of our old favorites" and this movie was one of many. We totally enjoy the old stuff because it's clean, fun and the entire family can learn good life lessons....more info
  • It Has No Equal
    I first saw this movie in 1959 at the local drive-in theatre, I was seven years old then. I remember that I cried the first time I saw it and I've cried on each of the several dozen times I've seen it since. I only recently learned that the 1959 version was a re-make of the original movie from 1934. I've seen both and there's no comparison, even though in the 1934 film, Peola (1959's Sarah Jane) was played by a Black Actress named Fredi Washington, the '59 version surpasses it's predecessor. If you ever want or need a good cry and the tears just won't come, pop this movie in and grab some Kleenex tissues, you'll need them....more info
  • Imitation of Life
    This product was for a present. Very good D.V.D but the devlivery was very long and it did not arrive when the estimated date of devlivery was given it arrived aprroximately a fornight later. ...more info
  • Imitation of Life
    This movie is a great example of how a child can treat their parents. Also, it shows how a Black person can pass for white if the skin tone is light. This girl would rather be white than to claim her heritage as a Black American. Wonderful movie, a classic....more info
  • Keep a tissue box nearby for this one
    This movie leads you through two mother/daughter stories:

    One deals with an actress and her daughter. The problem in this relationship is the mother carries her acting abilities off-stage as well, with her relationship with her daughter. Instead of expressing genuine, heart-felt emotions, she imitates them as an actress does. Her daughter, however, wants to see the real her and is frustrated by this emotional wall her mom has erected.
    There's a great scene when the mother and daugher are arguing and the mother begins to cry...the daughter accuses her of fake crying...and she is.

    In my opinion though, the most compelling story deals with the actress's maid and the maid's daughter. The maid is black and her daughter is half black, half white...however, since her skin color is very light and her hair has a smooth texture, she can easily be mistaken for someone who's 100% white.

    The daughter, seeing how white people are treated more favorably than black people, decides to imitate the life of a 100% white person. In order to do that, though, she must disown her mother...which is extremely heart-breaking to watch.

    This movie takes a very compelling look at racism and self-hatred...and the ending is so powerful, the acting so heart-felt, that I burst into tears every time. If you decide to buy this movie, I advise you keep a tissue box nearby for this one....more info
  • The Best Movie Ever Made
    I personally rate this movie as a five star movie. This movie was simply the best ever. It covered real life issues that most byracial people are dealing with. With its intreaguing theme and tone, this movie capture's your heart and takes it for a long ride of facing reality. I love how the creater of this movie makes a point and by the end of the movie you completely get it. With its very clear and straight foward message, this movie goes down in history as an all american favorite. Immitation of life is about a young byracial girl and her mother, that has no place to live. She meets a friend and played with her all day. Until it was time to go home and the mother told the other mother that they had no home to go to, but they'll be fine. As generious as the other girls mother is, she takes them in. As time goes on the girls grew up and were very close. The byracial girl starts to reject her mother and pass for all white. More time goes by and her mother dies. she then decides to show up at the funeral and make a big mocary of herself.The other girl and her mother reminds her that it is much too late. This is truely an eye watering film and a heart breaker. The main idea of this movie is to be good to your mother and dont try to act like your something your not....more info
  • Imitation of Life
    I loved this movie, I cried very hard at the end. It is so typical of children who bearly are young adults that mistreat their parents who just want the very best for them and for them to succeed. I think it's a good movie for everyone to see, through anothers eyes. ...more info
  • My wife's favorite movie of all time.
    I had recorded it on VHS but that wasn't good enough so I bought the DVD for my spouse so she could watch it any time she wished. A good story, well acted and Lana Turner is one of the original "Super Stars"....more info
  • A Must See!
    I've been an old movie buff since the age of 9, black & white movies that is. My mom suggested "Imitation of Life" to me some 36 years ago, and I still view it regularly. This film focuses on themes that are still relevant today such as friendship, career, love, mother-daughter relations, single parenting, etc. There is one scene alone that not only breaks one out into tears from deep in the gut, but will make you appreciate the high-calling of motherhood. I coordinate an afterschool program and this was recently our movie of the month for the 10-13 year olds and THEY LOVED IT! After we all wiped the tears, the students held a 'lively' discussion about their life struggles that pretty much aligned with the themes of the film. This activity inspired me to give "Imitation of Life" as gifts for Christmas. I HIGHLY recommend this movie for the young at heart...and for those who just need a good CRY! I give it 5 out of 5 stars!...more info
  • prompt
    My movie came very quickly. It has a spot in it that i have to fast foreward thru though or it gets stuck. ...more info
  • Glossy, Melodramatic Classic That Packs a Punch
    It's glossy, punchy and melodramatic. The fact that the women are beautiful is an added bonus! This 1959 remake of the original 1934 version probably appeals more to modern day sensibilities. Comparing both versions is inevitable - there are several differences, though the most obvious being the time.

    Hollywood Diva Lana Turner plays Lora, a struggling widowed actress and mother who, by chance, meets up with a fellow struggling widow, Annie, played adeptly by Juanita Moore. By now, the Aunt Jemima domestic "Mammy" image portrayed by Louise Beavers in the original version was deemed politically incorrect, but Juanita plays the dutiful housekeeper all the same. The daughters (played by Sandra Dee and Susan Khoner) hit it off straight away, although there's tension from Annie's pass-for-white daughter from the outset.

    We advance several years with the girls now in their teens. Lora's now made it as a glittering actress, and can now afford to live in the lap of luxury. Another major difference between this version and the original is that the relationship between the leading ladies is more intertwined. There's an on-screen chemistry that's electric, and it makes for compulsive viewing. Susi and Sarah Jane are like sisters - they practically grew up together. There's also a special bond between Susi and Annie. Indeed, Annie knew that Susi was in love long before her mother did.

    Although Lana Turner's the star of this movie, she was eclipsed by Juanita Moore and Susan Khoner, who both gave career-best acting performances. Sandra Dee packs a punch too, as the wide-eyed, but neglected Susie. There are some scenes that are heartbreaking, and you can feel Annie's anguish. Sarah Jane's confused, restless and downright ungrateful! In the end, the viewer doesn't really care about 'Diva' Lora, and her enormous ego.

    There's something not quite right about the movie, though and it has nothing to do with the acting. I felt that Sarah Jane's character could have been explored in much more detail. It's 1959, on the verge of the Civil Rights movements. Sarah Jane's a beautiful and intelligent young woman who runs away from home and rejects her mother. For what? So that she can become a dancer in some sleazy nightclub. Give me a break! This was a cop-out from the director who obviously had a very limited view on the capabilities of African Americans. Sure, racism was rife, but was dancing the only option for a young woman with Susi's capabilities?

    Never mind, what's done is done. I just feel the movie lacks the sincerity of the original in certain parts.
    The final scenes, like the original, pull out all the stops. Poor Annie - tired, worn and despairing - dies of a broken heart, and has the grandest of funerals, including a majestic, emotionally charged rendition from Gospel legend, Mahalia Jackson. Sarah Jane turns up and throws herself at the casket - just as Peola had done in the original. This is gripping stuff.

    Juanita Moore and Susan Khoner received Best Supporting Actress nominations for their roles - deservedly so. For years, everyone assumed that the role of Sarah Jane went to a white actress. CORRECTION! In reality, Susan Khoner was mixed-raced herself (part Mexican). Her own racial ambiguity no doubt gave her a valuable insight into Sarah Jane's character. Alas, like the beautiful Fredi Washington (who was typecast as the 'Tragic Mulatto'), Khoner had no blooming movie career after Imitation of Life. She will always be remembered for her outstanding performance in this movie.

    If you're undecided as to which version to get, I'd say get both and make up your own minds as to which version is better. A note to UK viewers - you'll need a VCR with NTSC playback to watch this movie.

    ...more info
  • A "must have" for any movie collector!!
    Althought there are few extras in this, the story is still as wonderful as I remember it. BRILLIANT performances throughout and the story is beautiful and gut-wrenching all at the same time. Love, friendship, racism, motherhood, sacrifice, chasing dreams are just a few of the topics that this film addresses. Do yourself a favor...add this film to your collection....more info
  • Really good movie
    This is such a good movie. I bought it for my mom for Mother's Day she would watch it on T.V. when it would come on once a year. Now she can watch it anytime. ...more info
  • Imitation of Life
    There's nothing I wanted to know before I purchased the movie, just that I wanted it because I think it's one of the best tear jerker movies ever made.
    Thank You for having it available for me to purchase. You're the best!...more info
    "Imitation of Life" opens with a sweepingly romantic title song sung by Earl Grant which puts the viewer in the perfect mood for the glitzy drama that is about to unfold. Aspiring actress Lora Meredith (Lana Turner) meets Annie Johnson (Juanita Moore) a homeless black woman at Coney Island and soon they share a tiny apartment. Each woman has an intolerable daughter, though Annie's little girl Sarah Jane (Susan Kohner), is by far the worse. Sarah Jane doesn't like being black; since she's light-skinned (her father was practically white), she spends the rest of the film passing as white, much to her mother's heartache and shame. Lora, meanwhile, virtually ignores her own daughter (Sandra Dee) in a single-minded quest for stardom. Legendary movie director Douglas Sirk's ("Written On The Wind" (1956), "All That Heaven Allows" (1955) last American film.

    One of Hollywood's most memorable 4-hankie romantic drama masterpieces stars ultra glamorous Lana Turner in one of the major roles of her career that's she's best remembered for. The other being her prim and proper role as the screen's most notorious single mother in Grace Metalious' controversial "Peyton Place" (1957). "Imitation of Life" brings so much to the screen in it's story of two single mothers, one white and one black, who see the world in different respects to raising their daughters. Sandra Dee is her usual sweet and temperamental self as Lana's love starved daughter, and Susan Kohner (a Natalie Wood look-a-like) does a fantastic job as Juanita's light skinned daughter, who wishes Lana were her mother! Hollywood leading men John Gavin and Troy Donahue add some love interests to Lana and Sandra's lives and Gospel great Mahalia Jackson sings at a funeral in the film's grand finale!

    I highly recommend "Imitation of Life" to classic romantic drama DVD collectors, especially fans of Lana Turner and Sandra Dee. And I also recommend Lana Turner's "Peyton Place," "Madame X," "By Love Possessed," and "Portrait in Black," with only "Peyton Place" currently available on DVD. Also check out Sandra Dee, with Troy Donahue in "A Summer Place," which is also available on DVD! So go ahead and pop in "Imitation of Life," kick back with some snacks and maybe even a few kleenex and see first hand what a true Hollywood soap opera is all about!
    ...more info
  • Imitation of Life
    A fantastic movie from the 50s. Lana Turner is stunning as Laura as is Juanita Moore as Annie. Great cast. A perfect portrayal of the prejudices of the times. Mahalia Jackson gives a brilliant performance in her rendition of 'Troubles of the World'. Definitely don't pass this one by....more info
  • A Must See
    A very interesting movie, in many ways. The subject matter and story are intense even in today's times. This film must have created quite a stir when it was made in 1959. Many interesting details about the stars, and how their careers and lives played out, are available from Google and similar search engines. ...more info