Posted on: June 30, 2005
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The second screen adaptation of Fannie Hurst's emotionally charged novel (the first, made in 1934, starred Claudette Colbert). Lora Meredith (Lana Turner) and Annie Johnson (Juanita Moore) are two widowed mothers, one white, the other black, who forge a close friendship when financial circumstances demand they share a small cold-water flat. Lora's financial lot improves when her acting career takes off, but life changes little for Annie, who continues to stay with Lora as her maid. Both women's daughters grow to resent their mothers; golden-haired Susie (Sandra Dee) becomes the spoiled, neglected daughter of a celebrated actress, while Annie's daughter, light-skinned Sarah Jane (Susan Kohner), frustrated at the difficulties of being black in American society, continues to reject her mother's admonitions that she not try to pass for white. Turner centers an outstanding cast that garnered Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominations for both Kohner and Moore. Director Douglas Sirk, in what was to be his final feature film, creates an intoxicating carnival of lush colors and dizzying, metallic surfaces. In his heightened rendering of the 1950s American dreamworld, with its widespread yearning for material success and submerged racial tensions, the most alluring realms reveal themselves as substanceless halls of mirrors.