Imitation of Life | Chicago Reader

Imitation of Life

The first version (1934) of Fannie Hurst's elaborate soap opera about a working girl who promotes her maid's pancake recipe into a fast-food empire, and the trials and tribulations of the maid's daughter, who tries to pass for white. Douglas Sirk's famous 1959 remake was pure metaphysics; this version emphasizes the social content, particularly in its Depression-era attention to class nuances. Director John Stahl was a notable visual stylist (although this film contains few of his characteristic flourishes) and was possessed of the prime asset of the melodramatist, the ability to take his material seriously and make it play. It seems racist now, of course, but it was earnest in its time. With Claudette Colbert, Warren William, and Rochelle Hudson.



  • Douglas Sirk


  • Lana Turner
  • John Gavin
  • Sandra Dee
  • Dan O'Herlihy
  • Susan Kohner
  • Robert Alda
  • Juanita Moore
  • Mahalia Jackson
  • Troy Donahue


  • Eleanore Griffin
  • Fannie Hurst
  • Allan Scott


  • Ross Hunter

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