Aspiring actress Lora Meredith meets Annie Johnson, 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, is by far the worse. Neurotic and obnoxious, 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 in a single-minded quest for stardom.Written by
This movie, released in 1959, features topics that would not be discussed in good company for years: blacks and whites sharing an apartment, single mothers raising children on their own, and prejudice against blacks.
I was only 7 when this movie came out, and I remember when the Civil Rights movement started and what trouble it caused. This movie showed the suffering that racism was causing, in a way that helps non-blacks empathize with the tragedy.
The screenwriters cleverly wove all kinds of sub-themes into the plot, including the challenges women had to overcome to land a decent job. The story also addresses the question of what should happen when a working woman gets married: does she quit working and let her husband be the bread-winner, or should the husband support the wife in her work? These were unusual questions in the early years after World War 2, before which almost no women held professional positions.
Given the year this movie came out, it dealt fairly with all of these social challenges.
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