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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A deeply affecting movie
The <i>Hollywood Citizen-News</i> dubbed this "One of the most powerful films to grace the 1961 screen." I'd say that time has proven this to be one of the most powerful films to hit the screen in any year.
The character Walter Lee is a man driven to the edge of insanity by the prospect of seeing his dream slip right through his fingers. A dream that he thinks...
Published on May 6, 2003 by K. Barnes

versus
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
I simply did not like the acting by Sidney Poitier in this movie. He was too melodramatic.
Published 2 months ago by Harvey


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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A deeply affecting movie, May 6, 2003
By 
This review is from: A Raisin in the Sun (DVD)
The <i>Hollywood Citizen-News</i> dubbed this "One of the most powerful films to grace the 1961 screen." I'd say that time has proven this to be one of the most powerful films to hit the screen in any year.
The character Walter Lee is a man driven to the edge of insanity by the prospect of seeing his dream slip right through his fingers. A dream that he thinks is his only way up. Sidney Poitier, who is <i>the</i> finest, most natural actor I have ever seen, plays this part flawlessly. Ruby Dee, Diane Sands, and Claudia McNeil also strike stunning, emotional performances as the family members dealing with not only Walter Lee's downward spiral, but also with their own issues and inner turmoil.
In keeping with its origins, the cinematography of the movie retains many aspects of a play, and is thus unlike modern movies that cater to the growing attention deficit of our society. However, the content and fine performances will capture your attention, regardless of what you are now used to seeing. The turmoil will be familiar to many people. The conflicts brought up here are classic social conditions experienced by many different types of people all around the world... whether it is due to skin color, religion, money or other class distinction. For this reason, I feel this movie will strike a cord with people from many different backgrounds.
The quality of the DVD is superb. I noticed no degradation of the picture or sound quality. There are subtitle options for English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai.
The movie's 1961 preview, which is one of the extras, begins with a "Message to Moviegoers" by the producer, David Susskind. I would like to quote his words, because they do ring absolutely true of this movie:
"Here is entertainment which is rare and unique... [W]hen you see this picture you will live it. After you leave the theatre, you will talk about it, and for a long time afterward you will remember <i>A Raisin in the Sun</i>."
[Submitted 5-6-03, edited 5-20-03]
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I am a giant, and I'm surrounded by ants.", June 29, 2004
This review is from: A Raisin in the Sun (VHS Tape)
With perhaps the best cast ever assembled for this play, David Susskind's 1961 production of Raisin in the Sun is a classic film and a landmark achievement during the civil rights struggles of the early 1960s. Starring a young Sidney Poitier as Walter Lee, Claudia McNeil as his mother Lena Younger, Ruby Dee as his wife Ruth, and Diana Sands as his sister Beneatha, the film closely follows the script of the play, and director Daniel Petrie wisely confines the setting almost entirely to one room, as it is on stage. This intensifies the emotions and interactions of this three-generation family, which share a small, two-bedroom apartment in South Chicago, and makes their longing to break free obvious both visually and emotionally.
Sidney Poitier as Walter Lee is the "giant...surrounded by ants" as he dreams of escaping his job as a chauffeur and investing in a liquor store. Poitier's body language and subtle gestures as he argues about how to spend his mother's ten thousand dollar life insurance check powerfully convey his anguish. The close-up of Poitier's slow transition from an insolent and angry young man to a tearful and repentant son in one scene with his mother is unforgettable. Claudia McNeil, as the mother, is stalwart, strong, and full of pride. Ruby Dee, as the devoted wife, trying to decide whether to have an abortion in order to lighten her husband's load, is simultaneously resolute and resigned. Diana Sands, as Beneatha, the agnostic medical student, reflecting the beginning of the "Roots" and "Black Power" movements, provides some comic relief as she practices African "home-from-the-hunt" dances.
At the heart of the play is the issue of discrimination against black people and the limitations on their dreams, and the filming in black and white is appropriate. The small dying houseplant that Lena nurtures remains the major symbol here, as it is in the play, but through the cinematography new symbols emerge. The kitchen cupboard door opens and shuts as family members open and shut themselves to each other and the outside world, and numerous scenes take place between two people with a door in the background, opening and closing as their emotions change. The film quality and its high contrast have withstood the test of time, the sound is good, and the acting, especially as revealed in the close-ups, makes this a classic film, better than any stage version I have ever seen or imagined. Mary Whipple
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Subject matter still an issue today, August 26, 2000
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: A Raisin in the Sun (VHS Tape)
The title of this film is taken from a line from a Langston Hughes poem called "A Dream Deferred":

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun
Or fester like a sore-

And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over-

Like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

"A Raisin In The Sun", an award-winning Broadway stage play brought to the screen, is a story about dreams. Everyone in this film has them, but the question is, do they ever come true? Do you have to put that dream on hold because of other circumstances beyond your control, until it consumes you to do something unthinkable? Or in order to reach that dream you want to come true so badly, you decide to take another route to get it? Or you just let it die, and you are forever regretting not taking the necessary steps to make that dreams a reality?

I first saw this on television umpteen years ago and in school, and I was touched by the whole plot. In the 1950s, an African-American family living in a Chicago tenement obtains a large amount of money from an insurance policy due to the death of the patriarch, and his widow (Claudia McNeil) decides to use a large portion of it as a down payment on a home in the suburbs, which is a thrill to everyone in the family, except her petulant son Walter Lee (Sidney Poitier). Walter Lee has dreams of his own, and wants the insurance money for another purpose.

Walter Lee's headstrong, witty and socially conscious younger sister, Beneatha (Diana Sands), is a college student who has dreams of going to medical school and becoming a doctor and in the meanwhile, trying desperately to identify with her African roots after meeting a Nigerian exchange student (Ivan Dixon). This is a major ingredient in the script, being that this was written shortly after the birth of the Civil Rights Movement, several years before the Black Panthers were formed and at least 15 years before the women's liberation movement. Will she ever get there? Meanwhile, Walter Lee and his mother continuously clash until his mother finally breaks down and gives him a portion of the money, but she is very careful about how she wants him to use it.

Meanwhile, the residents of the white suburban neighborhood where this family wants to move don't want them there. Later on, a decision must be made. Should they move to this beautiful new home where they aren't really wanted, or take the white neighbors up on their offer to buy the house back from them with a profit?

The entire cast, which is the original Broadway ensemble, is stellar, especially Claudia McNeil's amazing portrayal of the widowed Lena Younger, Walter Lee's mother. She is nothing short of phenomenal - she is a proud woman, a tower of strength in the face of tragedy and although she herself is suffering, she is able to put her own grief aside to comfort the other family members. This is clearly Sidney Poitier's finest role, right up there with playing Virgil Tibbs in 1967's "In The Heat of the Night". Exploding with intensity, he accurately nails down the frustrations and pain of a black man who wants for much more for himself and his family, and pins his hopes on an unyielding dream. Ruby Dee plays Ruth, Walter Lee's wife, a beautiful woman of quiet dignity who is struggling with conflicts of her own. Also appearing in his first movie role is future Oscar winner Louis Gossett, Jr. as George Murchison, an articulate and well-to-do college student.

This is still a relevant topic today, even though this film was made over 40 years ago because these things are still happening. Lorraine Hansberry, the playwright, was inspired to write this masterpiece by her own experience of moving to an all-white Chicago suburb as a child, and the very public genrification story of entertainer Nat King Cole, who faced the same kind of bigotry when he brought a house in a wealthy white neighborhood in California in 1948.

Wonderful family film. Highly recommended.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best!, July 3, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: A Raisin in the Sun (DVD)
The writing was wonderful...the acting - fantastic - the story - touching beyond words. This movie is a must for all humans - black, white, whatever! I've seen this countless times and it never fails to move me. Rent it, buy it...but WATCH it and watch it over again if necessary. Have plenty of tissues towards the end - you'll need it.
Enjoy all!
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5.0 out of 5 stars perfectly done, April 23, 2007
A RAISIN IN THE SUN (1961)

directed by Daniel Petrie

approx. 2 hours 10 minutes

This is the black and white version of Lorraine Hansberry's classic book on the black experience in the United States.

The story revolves around a family in Chicago's housing projects who are awaiting money from an insurance policy. Each member of the family has a different perspective on life as well as a different idea of what should be done with the money. Sidney Poitier's character Walter wants to invest it in a business while his mother, (played by Claudia McNeil) plans to buy a house for the family. But money isn't the only issue that's addressed. The Beneatha character espouses atheist viewpoints and a strong connection to Africa. Meanwhile Walter's marriage seems like its on its last leg due to stress and confusion of the couple. The movie paints a vivid picture of domestic issues as well as many of the social problems of the time.

This version takes place almost entirely inside their apartment, maintaining a feel of a stage play. The acting is wonderful all around, and the writing is excellent. Highly recommended!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Timeless Treasure", June 10, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: A Raisin in the Sun (VHS Tape)
This movie is a classic in every sense of the word. Phenomenal acting from the entire cast. The story line is a timeless piece because some of these same issues are still being dealt with in 1999. Sidney Portier & Ruby Dees' talents will carry this drama into another century. Diane Sands (Benetha) was an incredible talent. I recommend this movie for ALL people. You will definitely be inspired by this beautiful piece.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Raison in the Sun, May 5, 2000
This review is from: A Raisin in the Sun (DVD)
If you are a Sidney Poitier fan, this movie is a must see! It is one of his finest films. I have watched it over and over again and enjoy each time as if it were the first time. This movie is a classic in every since of the word. You won't be disappointed!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic, November 23, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: A Raisin in the Sun (DVD)
When I was in school, I had to read this in English class. We also saw the movie. It was the first time I saw it and didn't remember much from it. As I got older, I decided to rent it. This has become one of my favourite movies of all time. I am a huge Sidney Poitier fan and this movie solidifies his talents as an actor: smooth, dramatic, and oh so classic!!! Although made almost 40 years ago, the themes still apply today. I wholeheartedly recommend this movie and I will never get tired of seeing it!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Walter needs something I can't give him any more. ", August 19, 2005
With perhaps the best cast ever assembled for this play, David Susskind's 1961 production of Raisin in the Sun is a classic film and a landmark achievement during the civil rights struggles of the early 1960s. Starring a young Sidney Poitier as Walter Lee, Claudia McNeil as his mother Lena Younger, Ruby Dee as his wife Ruth, and Diana Sands as his sister Beneatha, the film closely follows the script of the play, and director Daniel Petrie wisely confines the setting almost entirely to one room, as it is on stage. This intensifies the emotions and interactions of this three-generation family, which share a small, two-bedroom apartment in South Chicago, and makes their longing to break free obvious both visually and emotionally.

Sidney Poitier as Walter Lee is the "giant...surrounded by ants" as he dreams of escaping his job as a chauffeur and investing in a liquor store. Poitier's body language and subtle gestures as he argues about how to spend his mother's ten thousand dollar life insurance check powerfully convey his anguish. The close-up of Poitier's slow transition from an insolent and angry young man to a tearful and repentant son in one scene with his mother is unforgettable. Claudia McNeil, as the mother, is stalwart, strong, and full of pride. Ruby Dee, as the devoted wife, trying to decide whether to have an abortion in order to lighten her husband's load, is simultaneously resolute and resigned. Diana Sands, as Beneatha, the agnostic medical student, reflecting the beginning of the "Roots" and "Black Power" movements, provides some comic relief as she practices African "home-from-the-hunt" dances.

At the heart of the play is the issue of discrimination against black people and the limitations on their dreams, and the filming in black and white is appropriate. The small dying houseplant that Lena nurtures remains the major symbol here, as it is in the play, but through the cinematography new symbols emerge. The kitchen cupboard door opens and shuts as family members open and shut themselves to each other and the outside world, and numerous scenes take place between two people with a door in the background, opening and closing as their emotions change. The film quality and its high contrast have withstood the test of time, the sound is good, and the acting, especially as revealed in the close-ups, makes this a classic film, better than any stage version I have ever seen or imagined. Mary Whipple
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, August 19, 2003
This review is from: A Raisin in the Sun (DVD)
Sidney Poiter's portrayal as Walter Lee was phenomenal! Poiter captured the very essence of what it is to be a African American man hungry for a dream. It is interesting in the story and in the general plot how with his father's insurance money how he can began to start his dream. He continues to plot and envision with his buddies as to how he will take hold of something finally and create with his own mind what is and what ought to be. Later he is seen as a fragmented man, dried out at the bones for what seems a vision loss. It is amazing how Lorraine Hansberry captivates the audience with the highs and the lows of all the characters. The bodacious younger sister who is captivated by everything that ever was; knowledge during this time meaningful of influence and power. The divisions of the haves and simply the have nots. The strivings for the mother to make a better life for herself and her two grown children is imperative.
Either way the development of the story carries the viewer from glory to glory. Walter Lee 's dream looms as big as life, and you can almost hear yourself deflate as his dream goes looming by. It is captivating to see the family still overcome such a difficult blow by still remembering what matters the most -- each other.
This movie can be critique a million different ways and I suppose I will be reviewing it again and again. An African American man with a vision, a dream, a goal accomplished and fulfilled is a beautiful thing. One can strive towards essentially everything but as a people we know that being mediocre is not allowed. To be the best at whatever he wanted to be was Walter Lee's desire. . . For the most crucial thing of all for any man is to stand up and be just that a man. Regardless, as to the choices one makes in getting there the power of accomplishing just that gives one the UMPH to survive after having reached whatever star or attained whatever vision.
I think that Lorraine Hansbury's insight into a very significant scenario still exists today. The very ideal that Walter Lee had a dream of becoming in terms of society's idea of somebody still looms today in the hearts and minds of many men. The mere fact that he wanted a better string of pearls for his wife is indeed a fact that he reckoned with the "quality of his life" everyday.
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A Raisin In The Sun
A Raisin In The Sun by Daniel Petrie
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