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Imitation Of Life (Two-Movie Special Edition) (Universal Legacy Series) (1934)

Claudette Colbert , Louise Beavers , John M. Stahl , Douglas Sirk  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (212 customer reviews)

List Price: $26.98
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Product Details

  • Actors: Claudette Colbert, Louise Beavers, Fredi Washington, Rochelle Hudson, Warren William
  • Directors: John M. Stahl, Douglas Sirk
  • Format: Color, Dolby, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • DVD Release Date: February 5, 2008
  • Run Time: 236 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (212 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000XUOLNE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,044 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Imitation Of Life (Two-Movie Special Edition) (Universal Legacy Series)" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Imitation of Life, one of the most beloved and respected stories of all time, is now available in a new two-movie special edition! Based on the 1933 best-selling novel, this emotionally charged drama chronicles the lives of two widows and their troubled daughters as they struggle to find true happiness in a world plagued by racism. The Imitation of Life Two-Movie Special Edition includes both versions of the film: the original 1934 Best Picture nominee starring Claudette Colbert and the 1959 masterpiece starring Lana Turner. With storylines tackling racism, romance, family, success and tragedy, Imitation of Life is a powerful story that still resonates with audiences today.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
77 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review for 2-Movie Special Edition February 16, 2008
By Dave
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Having studied the 1959 version of "Imitation of Life" in film class, it has become one of my favorite films, one that is rich with many subtexts that may not be visible upon first glance. This special 2-disc DVD set contains both the 1934 and 1959 versions based on a Fannie Hurst tear-jerker novel. Tackling a sensitive issue for the times (in both versions), these movies deal with an African-American girl who wants to pass for white to have more opportunities open up for her. The girl's mother develops a friendship and working/subserviant relationship with a white woman who has her own daughter of the same age. How the two women function in their environments and the conflicts that occur due to the daughter's "passing" constitute the basis of both stories.

The 1934 film stars Claudette Colbert and Louise Beavers as the mothers. The film seems very dated and old fashioned on the surface; watching it a 2nd time with the commentary track is very beneficial. Avery Clayton, an African-American Cultural Scholar, gives slight information on the making of the film, but gives the story plenty of explanation of the subtexts and is very helpful in putting some of the slightly offensive elements into the context of the times that the film was made. Beavers' character becomes the icon for Aunt Delilah's pancake mix, a thinly veiled version of Aunt Jemima. Colbert's character is given the idea to market Delilah's recipe and the two become rich; the fact that Beaver's character doesn't want any of the riches and is actually afraid NOT to be in a subserviant role to Colbert is somewhat uncomfortable. Colbert gives her typical warm performance and even today, she is a joy to watch. The rest of the film does seem very dated.
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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The original, and still the best version November 20, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Most viewers are far more familiar with the campy, 1959 version of this film, starring Lana Turner. But, this is the original version, and I find it far superior to the remake for so many reasons.
First of all, it takes place in the early 1930's, putting us smack dab in the Depression, and a time period which suits the subject matter. Claudette Colbert, a much better actress than Lana Turner, is one of the first reasons I prefer this version. But, mainly, the incredible Louise Beavers is absolutely unforgettable as the black maid, Delilah Johnson, whose light-skinned daughter, Peola, is raised alongside Colbert's daughter, Jessie.
When the girls grow up, Peola realizes that she can "pass" for white, and in the 1930's, with racism and joblessness rampant, her choice makes sense, for the times. When Peola, played by Fredi Washington, completely rejects her mother, it is heartbreaking. To see Louise Beavers sobbing onto the counter in the department store is truly painful.
Peola breaks her mother's heart in order to fit into a world that would not accept her otherwise. In the end, she regrets the pain she causes her mother. This is another time and place, and we don't hate Peola for hurting her mother. Still, our heart bleeds for Delilah.
The acting is top notch, and I will take this more entertaining and serious version of the film over the campy re-make any day.
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173 of 193 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The original is better then the remake February 11, 2004
By Dasher
Format:DVD
Finally both of these movies are released together. Most people do not even know the 1934 version exists. In my opinion the 34 version is the better of the two. Even though both are really over the top, at least the first version portrays the black and the white woman more as equals. The remake actually is more racist and condesending. The black woman in the original whose name is Delilah is a business woman not a maid. She is treated like a real person. Claudette Colbert who portrays the the white woman treats Delilah as a partner, her friends treat her equally. They actually try to talk to Delilah about her daughter and try to help her as a friend would not as a person who is pitied as in the remake. "Poor Annie" as Sandra Dee's character mentions. PLUS I find it insulting that in 1959 Hollywood could not find one black actress to play the part of the daughter, but way back in 1934 they did. Ferdi Washington. Delilah's job was not to take care of the white woman and her daughter. But in the 1959 version that was Annie's job. Also I like the story of the independent woman that the first version told. It is very strange how Hollywood has regressed. Because most movies would never be about a black and white middle aged single working women with almost grown daughters. The movie today would be more about the daughters then the mothers. Don't get me wrong the remake I enjoyed but more as a camp over the top melodrama and I do like the actress's in the roles. But the 1934 version was a better movie. The fact the the daughter tried to pass as white back in the 30's is more understandable then someone who would try to pass in the later version. I feel that is more out of self hatred and some bad parenting. Read more ›
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
I was very excited to hear about the release of the two versions of Imitation Of Life together on the same DVD. I had never seen the 1934 version and found it to be an equally enjoyable film as the 1959 one, although quite different (the main character is an entrepreneur versus an actress in the '59 version). The transfer for the 1934 version is decent considering it's age. I was more disappointed with the 1959 one. Granted, it was filmed in Eastman Color so one could not expect Technicolor brilliance, but the transfer is grainy and faded. To make matters worse, the layer change occurs at the worst possible place, as someone is running down the stairs (as with all DVD's, there is a slight pause at that time). This is very jarring; what was the engineer thinking? Layer changes ideally should be placed between a fade-out and a fade-in of scenes. Considering the price and the content, I would reccomend this DVD if you can ignore it's flaws.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars a gift for my mother in law
im writing this because the movie is great and the story line is one that has happened many times. ive seen daughter treat there mother like s*** and be embarrass because of what... Read more
Published 11 days ago by george quiles
4.0 out of 5 stars Great movie!
This is one great black & white movie. I fell in love with it!! Your attention will be kept throughout the movie!
Published 15 days ago by Jasmine
5.0 out of 5 stars Imitation of Life dvd
Iloved this movie.It was very sad that a daughter could treat her mom so bad. I like the older movies that does not have bad language and a lot of dirty scences. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Gladys
5.0 out of 5 stars This has always been a favorite movie of mine
This has always been a favorite movie of mine. I am now the proud owner of the 1934 and '59 versions.
Published 23 days ago by athina malloy
5.0 out of 5 stars Take me back
Where there were only 3 TV networks, my brothers and sister and I would wait for our parents to go to bed then gather around the TV to watch the Late Show. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Vanissa Thurman
3.0 out of 5 stars The original
When I was a girl I would sit and watch this movie with family every time it came on TV but I never new about the original. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Joyce Douglas
5.0 out of 5 stars great movie
I ordered this movie for my mother. I really like how it shows the orginial one and the remake one. I prefer the black and white one than the remake one.
Published 1 month ago by Alyssa M. Flores
5.0 out of 5 stars Imitation of Life 1934
Great Movie. Would Recommend to everyone. Great Price. Thank You. Great acting roles which lead up to the remake of the movie in the 1940's I give this movie a standing... Read more
Published 1 month ago by cynthia Barnes
5.0 out of 5 stars My all time favorite
I had to replace this movie becuase my original one broke. I can not have a good movie night without it.
Published 1 month ago by shonda
1.0 out of 5 stars Not what is advertised
The item is advertised as having both 1934 and 1959 versions. There was one CD in the jacket and it only had the 1959 version on it. What a ripoff! False advertising
Published 1 month ago by ethan4gb
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Topic From this Discussion
What's the difference?
Both films have new transfers and restored sound (there's an obvious difference in quality, but it isn't that much better than the previous versions due likely to the conditions of the masters).

Each film also has an audio commentary, and the disc for the '59 version also includes a half-hour... Read more
Feb 14, 2008 by K. |  See all 2 posts
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