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A Raisin in the Sun (1961)

Sidney Poitier , Claudia McNeil , Daniel Petrie  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeil, Ruby Dee, Diana Sands, Ivan Dixon
  • Directors: Daniel Petrie
  • Writers: Lorraine Hansberry
  • Producers: David Susskind, Philip Rose, Ronald H. Gilbert
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Georgian, Chinese, Thai
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: February 22, 2000
  • Run Time: 128 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00003L9CK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,352 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "A Raisin in the Sun" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Bonus Trailers

Editorial Reviews

A RAISIN IN THE SUN is a groundbreaking drama celebrating the human spirit, featuring an electrifying performance by Academy Award(r) winner Sidney Poitier (Best Actor, Lilies of the Field, 1963). The Younger family, frustrated with living in their crowded Chicago apartment, sees the arrival of a $10,000 insurance check as the answer to their prayers. Matriarch Lena Younger (Claudia McNeil) promptly puts a down payment on a house in an all-white suburban neighborhood. But the family is divided when Lena entrusts the balance of the money to her mercurial son Walter Lee (Poitier), against the wishes of her daughter (Diana Sands) and daughter-in-law (Ruby Dee). It takes the strength and integrity of this African-American family to battle against generations of prejudice to try to achieve theirpiece of the American Dream.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A deeply affecting movie May 6, 2003
Format: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.
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36 of 37 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
Format: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.
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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
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
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.
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