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*Introduced by Foster Hirsch

U.S., 1959
Directed by Douglas Sirk
Starring Lana Turner, Juanita Moore, Susan Kohner, Sandra Dee
Approx. 125 min. DCP.

"Lana Turner neglects both daughter Sandra Dee and faithful friend John Gavin en route to acting stardom; while faithful servant Juanita Moore’s daughter Susan Kohner breaks her mom’s heart by “passing for white.” Oscar nominations for Moore and Jewish-Mexican Kohner. “The ultimate incarnation of the maternal melodrama, by 1959 a nearing-exhaustion narrative form. The film is in fact a double header, with two intersecting, contrasting maternal melodramas, one between a white mother, Lora Meredith (an actress played by Lana Turner) and her daughter Susie (Sandra Dee), the other between a Black mother, Annie Johnson (Juanita Moore), and her daughter, Sarah Jane. (Susan Kohner), who tries to pass as white. ‘I tried to make it into a picture of social consciousness,’ Sirk said. “Not only of a white social consciousness but of a Negro one too.’ Surveying race relations in America in the late 1950s, Sirk confronted what he felt was ‘an underlying element of hopelessness.’"– Foster Hirsch


“AN AMERICAN MASTERPIECE! The toughest-minded, most irresolvable movie ever made about race in this country… remains the apotheosis of Hollywood melodrama.”
– Charles Taylor, Village Voice

– Rainer Werner Fassbinder

“Drunk on the lies and gross assumptions of its characters and the way they feed off of deceptive surfaces… Every word and image comes with a double meaning.”
– Ed Gonzalez, Slant

“One of the most intellectually demanding films ever made in Hollywood… By emphasizing brilliant surfaces, bold colors, and the spatial complexities of 50s modern architecture, Sirk creates a world of illusion, entrapment, and emotional desperation.”
– Dave Kehr

Film Forum