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Pinky (1949)

Jeanne Crain , Ethel Barrymore , Elia Kazan , John Ford  |  NR |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)

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Pinky + Imitation of Life Two-Movie Special Edition
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Product Details

  • Actors: Jeanne Crain, Ethel Barrymore, Ethel Waters, William Lundigan, Basil Ruysdael
  • Directors: Elia Kazan, John Ford
  • Writers: Elia Kazan, Cid Ricketts Sumner, Dudley Nichols, Jane White, Philip Dunne
  • Producers: Darryl F. Zanuck
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Surround)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Fox Searchlight
  • DVD Release Date: January 10, 2006
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00066FAOE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,259 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Pinky" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Pinky (Jeanne Crain), a black woman who works as a nurse in Boston, finds she is able to "pass for white." Afraid her true heritage will be discovered, she leaves her white fiancé (William Lundigan) and returns home to Mississippi. There, she helps her ailing grandmother (Ethel Waters) by caring for her employer (Ethel Barrymore), an imperious plantation owner. When she names Pinky heiress to her estate, the community rises in resentment, triggering a sensational court trial.

Subject of landmark Supreme Court case in film censorship, this story about a mulatto woman's rights against prejudice, became itself, a battle for civil rights.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
162 of 165 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE... March 31, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
This is a landmark film, as it tackled issues that were considered to be taboo at the time. Race hate, miscegenation, and passing for white are some of its themes. Unlike "Imitation of Life (1934), which in its own fashion dealt with the themes of passing for white and the unequal opportunities afforded blacks, this is not a sentimental tearjerker of a movie. Rather, there is an undercurrent of anger and righteousness that permeates it, and rightly so. It is a hard edged, no holds barred type of film. There is nothing sentimental about it.
Controversial in its time, the film is about a young bi-racial woman known as "Pinky" (Jeanne Crain), sent up north by her southern granny (Ethel Waters), so that she could receive an education. While up North, she begins passing for white inadvertently, as that is how she is apparently perceived, and makes no move to correct that perception. She studies and works hard, becoming a nurse. She then meets white Dr. Thomas Adams (William Lundigan), and they fall head over heels in love. He has no idea, however, of her background and knows her as "Patricia" not "Pinky".
Pinky, leaving him behind, returns home to the South one last time to confront her past and her personal demons. She ends up meeting bigotry head on, as down South where Pinky is known she is treated as blacks are treated, and does not like it one bit. It hardens her resolve all the more to return North and continue passing for white. She would like nothing better than to put as much distance as is possible between herself and her racial heritage. Helping out her grandmother, however, she ends up playing nurse to Miss Em (Ethel Barrymore), a crotchety, crusty, and ill eighty year old former plantation owner who has come down on hard times.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pinky November 28, 1999
Format:VHS Tape
Although this movie is somewhat dated, it has a message that is still important: you must be true to yourself. This was one of the first films to successfully deal with racism. So controversial was this film in 1949 it was banned in the south. The performances by all three women are very good. Jeanne Crain's scenes with Ethel Barrymore are especially moving. I'm surprised by the review from Amazon. You can't look at this film with the eyes of someone living in the 1990s. Pinky should be appreciated for addressing a subject that hadn't been addressed at all up until this film was made. From a technical level, this film is nicely put together. The music, the cinematography are all first rate. As film history, it's worth taking a look.
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44 of 54 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Old-Fashioned "Issues" Movie January 23, 2005
Format:VHS Tape
"Pinky" is one of those old-fashioned "issues" movies popular in the 1940s, such as "Gentlemen's Agreement," which tackled anti-semitism (of note, both of these films were directed by the great Elia Kazan). Unfortunately, these movies don't tend to age particularly well, and even the sympathetic characters often end up looking quite intolerant. However, we shouldn't dismiss these films summarily, as they obviously had an impact on their audience.

Jeanne Crain stars as the title character, a young black woman raised by her grandmother. Granny (Ethel Waters) is a poor, uneducated Southern washer-woman - the kind of good-hearted woman who cares for sick neighbors without compensation. When Pinky was a child, Granny saved every penny she could and sent Pinky up north to go to school and escape the harsh life of segregated Alabama. Pinky is so light-skinned, though, that she begins to "pass" as white; when she returns to Alabama, she has a white fiancé and has been living as a white nurse.

Pinky is shocked by her return to the South and suddenly being treated as a second-class citizen again. Further conflict occurs when Granny asks Pinky to tend to a sick white neighbor - Miss Em (Ethel Barrymore) who lives in a giant, slave-era colonial mansion. Pinky has memories of Miss Em treating her and the other black children poorly. Not surprisingly, Pinky refuses to tend to the racist Miss Em, but when Granny insists, an unlikely bond forms between Miss Em and Pinky. Unfortunately, the plot is awkwardly handled, and the final conflicts are resolved unrealistically.

To a modern audience, this movie certainly doesn't offer any answers regarding racial relations; however, the historical perspective is of interest and the acting is fairly good.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars landmark Hollywood drama March 7, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
PINKY was Jeanne Crain's greatest movie role, the story of a young African American woman whose light complexion causes friction in her small Southern community. Patricia Johnson, nicknamed `Pinky' for obvious reasons, returns home after several years of studying nursing up north, where she was able to pass and live as white without the day-to-day prejudices. Pinky's return is bittersweet when her mixed race is continually pointed out and used against her. After nursing the dying Miss Em (Ethel Barrymore), she inherits her stateley mansion, but the will is contested forcing Pinky to endure a humiliating trial, where she is effectively fighting for her rights as a human being. PINKY is a powerful study of human prejudice and greed, a remarkable film for it's time, and still stands up well today.

Jeanne Crain finally got the respect she deserved in Hollywood, with her portrayal of Pinky. One of Twentieth Century-Fox's main contract players, Crain had previously been cast in uncomplicated, one-note ingenue roles in films like "State Fair", "Cheaper By the Dozen" and "Leave Her to Heaven". Crain was helped no end by talented director Elia Kazan in shaping and developing the demanding and, at times, gritty role of Pinky. Playing Pinky's loving grandmother Dicey, Ethel Waters brings a quiet dignity and strength to every scene; and Ethel Barrymore adds a great deal of humour and heart to the misunderstood Em. All three ladies were nominated for Academy Awards for their performances, but this is much much more than a "women's picture". Nina Mae McKinney and William Lundigan (playing Pinky's white boyfriend) offer top supporting turns.

The new DVD from the Fox `Cinema Classics Collection' handsomely packages the film in a cardboard slipcase (featuring the original poster art), audio commentary with historian Kenneth Geist and an envelope containing 4 postcard-sized lobby card reproductions.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing
I saw this movie years ago as a child. It was an old movie then, but it really got my attention. It's nice to know, even if they wouldn't allow a minority to play the lead, that... Read more
Published 1 day ago by ac
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Old School
This was the type of movie that I grew up looking at. It was something that I could sit and watch with my young adult daughters and we both enjoy it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by NCA
5.0 out of 5 stars CLASSIC... CLASSIC... CLASSIC
The picture, actors and story line could not have been done any better than it was. I hope there is NEVER a remake. Read more
Published 2 months ago by T. Payton
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie!
This was an Excellent movie! If you liked Imitation of Life, you will love Pinky. It was a really good watch.
Published 2 months ago by Wanda W
5.0 out of 5 stars Why I bought this Movie
I gave pinky this rating because the movie was very moving in the fact of racism(if you will). I love the movie because it touches this concern in such a beautiful way for all... Read more
Published 2 months ago by miss clair
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
I love this movie. I saw this movie when I ordered another movie online. I love the dialogue and the interaction between the older and the younger generation. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jacqueline James
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful story of how things were. Great movie good quality.
Wonderful story of how things were. Great movie good quality. I watched this as a child with my mother, now I can view it with my grandkids.
Published 3 months ago by Adriene Frazier
5.0 out of 5 stars Jeanne Crain's first movie?
Yes, she plays a mulatto, half white and half black, who looks more white than black. Controversial when released and shows how these persons can survive having mixed blood. Read more
Published 4 months ago by William Dakota
5.0 out of 5 stars Stand up for what you believe in
I loved this movie! There is nothing like a good old fashioned movie with standards, no cursing, and no nudity.
Published 4 months ago by shonda
5.0 out of 5 stars pinky
I love this movie about honety and church values shown. I we remember out values on how to love one another we will never fail. Read more
Published 4 months ago by desiree
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