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135 customer reviews

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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.

Special Features


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, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • 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: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: January 10, 2006
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00066FAOE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,459 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Pinky" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

172 of 177 people found the following review helpful By lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Reginald on 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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50 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Westley VINE VOICE on 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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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Byron Kolln HALL OF FAME on 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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