Best Movies by Farr
Imitation of Life Poster
Released Runtime Category
1959 125 Drama, Romance
Director Language
Douglas Sirk English
Lana Turner, Juanita Moore, Sandra Dee, Susan Kohner, John Gavin, Robert Alda, Dan O'Herlihy

Imitation of Life

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What's it About

One day at the beach, Lora Meredith (Turner), a recently widowed, struggling actress, meets single black mother Annie Johnson (Moore) when their daughters Susie and Sarah Jane (Dee and Kohner) start playing together. At first Lora assumes Annie is Sarah Jane's nanny because the child is so light-skinned. Lora offers to let them spend the night — an invitation that blossoms into all four living together on an ongoing basis. Lora eventually makes it big on Broadway, and Annie settles in as Lora's devoted housekeeper and confidante. Over time both women grapple with difficult issues, as Lora tries to balance career with romance, and Annie confronts a daughter who wants to pass as white, rejecting her in the process.

Why we love it

“"Imitation of Life" is a compulsively watchable melodrama fueled by still-relevant themes of racism, the plight of working women, and the often thorny relationships between mothers and daughters. Director Sirk, in his final production, delivers his trademark cinematic gloss in rich, saturated Technicolor. Glamorous star Turner delivers in a tailor-made role, but it's the dignified, heartfelt performance of Moore that really stays with you (she was Oscar-nominated for this, along with Kohner). When it comes to tearjerkers, don't settle for pale imitations. And don't forget the Kleenex!

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BEST MOVIES BY FARR is your personal guide to great movies to rent, stream, or buy; to watch at home or on-the-go. Led by film advocate John Farr, the Best Movies by Farr team works as a "quality filter" for the discerning moviegoer. Every day, we bring you the best of the best, the fantastic familiar films and hidden gems, to answer that age-old question: "What should we watch tonight?"