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


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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.

Special Features

Disc 1 - Imitation of Life (1934):
  • Feature Commentary with African-American Cultural Scholar Avery Clayton
  • Theatrical Trailer


  • Disc 2 - Imitation of Life (1959):
  • Lasting Legacy - An Imitation of Life
  • Feature Commentary with Film Historian Foster Hirsch
  • Theatrical Trailer

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Claudette Colbert, Louise Beavers, Fredi Washington, Rochelle Hudson, Warren William
    • Directors: John M. Stahl, Douglas Sirk
    • Format: Multiple Formats, 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: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (450 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B000XUOLNE
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,188 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "Imitation Of Life (Two-Movie Special Edition) (Universal Legacy Series)" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    4.7 out of 5 stars

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    88 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Dave on February 16, 2008
    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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    62 of 64 people found the following review helpful By D. Movahedpour on 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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    49 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Mike Tarrani HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on May 11, 2012
    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    This set contains the original 1934 and the remake of a movie that, in both releases, was considered to be socially groundbreaking.

    I am not going to review the two movies because the reviews on their respective product pages to which I have provided links are far more articulate than I can ever be. Instead, I am going to compare and contrast the original and the remake and give some reasons why the films are historically significant and groundbreaking.

    The 1934 movie, Imitation of Life (1934), is based on and substantially follows Fanny Hurst's 1933 novel titled Imitation of Life. The usual Hollywood liberties are taken when transforming a novel into a screen play. The 1959 remake, Imitation of Life, differs significantly in detail (the original characters have different names, meet under different circumstances, and the successes enjoyed by one of the main characters comes from a different avenue.)

    However, while the details differ between the two films, the themes are the same, and the context the storylines are closely aligned to the eras in which the movies were made.

    The basic themes are race relations, the meaning of being Black in American society, and women breaking barriers.

    The 1934 version was the first film to humanize black Americans by portraying the characters as human beings who have feelings, aspirations and strong family ties (and challenges).
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    71 of 76 people found the following review helpful By City Of Evanston on February 3, 2004
    Format: DVD
    Both versions of the Fannie Hurst book were filmed before the
    Civil Rights and Black Power Movements so must be viewed with
    that in mind.must have been controversial. The 1934 version is
    quite dated now but was probably controversial at the time. Louise Beavers is magnificent as
    the mother whose heart is broken by her light-skinned daughter who
    wants to pass in the white world. Had times been different, she
    might have beaten Halle to the Oscar by 70 years instead of being
    relegated to 5th billing. Fredi Washington as her daughter is also escellent.
    The 1959 version features a magnificent performance by Juanita Moore who received
    an Oscar nomination for her work. This is more than a glitzy
    Lana Turner weeper. Douglas Sirk use of color is fantastic and
    even if the movie is hokey you can't stop watching. This double
    bill is great for collectors who wish to have both versions.
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    Forums

    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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