Imitation of Life (1934)

November 12, 2017

November 12, 2017

7:30 pm To 9:28 pm

TIFF Bell Lightbox, King Street West, Toronto, ON, Canada


Event Description

Louise Beavers stars in this heartbreaking melodrama (famously remade by Douglas Sirk in 1959) that afforded a Black actress a complex role far beyond the one-dimensional “Mammy” stereotype. Beavers shines as Delilah, the housekeeper, business associate, and confidante of Bea (Claudette Colbert), an eligible widow and entrepreneur who appropriates Delilah’s image (and family recipe) to launch an Aunt Jemima–like pancake business. While Bea’s romantic and familial troubles are the film’s primary focus, the far more fascinating narrative is that of Delilah’s relationship with her rebellious, light-skinned daughter Peola (Fredi Washington), who “passes” as white to avoid the glare of a racist society, and bitterly rejects her mother for being an indisputable reminder of her true identity.

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