A Raisin in the Sun

A Raisin in the Sun

DVD - 1999
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Film of the award-winning play about a struggling black family living on Chicago's South Side and the impact of an unexpected insurance bequest. Each family member sees the bequest as the means of realizing dreams and of escape from grinding frustrations.


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Aug 29, 2019

"Not being black, myself" is a very awkward, very strange way to start a review (see below). Does this mean that "ManMachine" can only enjoy art made by people like him, i.e., cyborgs? That's a very limiting view of art and culture. Based on Lorraine Hansberry's hit play (she adapted it as well), 1961's "A Raisin in the Sun" is an important, well-acted film about a working class black family in Chicago trying to make their way and get their slice of the (non-existent) American dream. Most of the actors, including Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee, were reprising their stage roles. While it does feel stagy at times and is, perhaps, a bit dated, what is striking that this is an almost all black cast in a movie based on a black book, something almost unheard of at the time (The little known director, however, was white). And, really, it's only in the past few years that culture is finally catching up. Poitier's bold and impassioned performance is the highlight. He and Dee would work together again in the 70s. This is the 2018 Criterion re-release that includes some useful special features, especially a short doc about the production, studio interference, and Poitier's clash with one on his co-stars. The booklet includes an essay by James Baldwin about Hansberry, who, sadly, died very young (34) in New York.

Jul 13, 2019

March 11, 2019 marked the 60th anniversary of the play version of A Raisin in the Sun opening on Broadway. This two-diskette version of the 1961 film version is wonderful not just for the 1961 film version but for all the additional background material, including an audio interview with playwright Lorraine Hansberry, an interview with her biographer, a group interview with people involved in the Broadway version of A Raisin in the Sun, including Ruby Dee, who played Younger’s wife in both the play and the film, and an excerpt from a documentary on the black theatre featuring footage of a very young James Earl Jones.
In another interview on the diskettes, the white director of the film, Daniel Petrie, says that he was unaware until after the film was made of Hansberry’s unsuccessful struggles with the studio to add scenes to her screenplay that would have gone outside the Younger’s apartment and shown more of the Chicago South Side ghetto they were living in and the white neighborhood they were moving to. If Petrie had known, he would have been Hansberry’s supporter.
While the film that did get made is more like a film of a play than a genuine cinematic work, it is still a highly effective and moving drama. Hansberry never got the images she wanted of the Youngers getting a hostile reception from their new white neighbors, but the film still makes it clear they were worried, not without reason, for their physical safety. Black Lives Matter wasn’t a slogan in 1961, but the concerns were the same. Beneatha Younger’s disdain for assimilationists and Walter Younger’s aspirations to become a capitalist entrepreneur are like current debates within the black community in Canada. When Ruth Younger discovers she is pregnant, this otherwise conventional black woman insists it is her right to decide whether she has an abortion or not, more than a decade before the US Supreme Court’s Roe vs Wade decision.
It was Hansberry’s genius to write a funny, touching story about a three-generational black family in Chicago’s South Side in the 1950's that still speaks to everyone today, or should do so. (I would have left it at “speaks to everyone" if I hadn’t read some of the surprisingly negative OPL reviews.)

Jun 27, 2019

Not being black, myself, I had a somewhat difficult time identifying with any of the characters in this decidedly over-wrought production from 1961.

Containing far too much spiteful bitterness and biting resentments - I failed to view "A Raisin In The Sun" as being a film of any noteworthy merits when it came to the honest-to-goodness entertainment value of motion pictures in general.

Yes. It was certainly a bold move by Universal Studios to produce such a film as this (about racial discrimination) back in the early 1960s. But, with that said - I certainly can't see this picture doing anything positive to help the cause of the black people in that particular era of volatile civil unrest.

Jun 25, 2019

Released back in 1961 - "A Raisin In The Sun" is a rather oppressive domestic drama concerning the Younger family who are African-Americans and who are unhappily living in low-rent housing conditions in downtown Chicago, Illinois.

Adapted from the stage play of the same name by Lorraine Hansberry - "A Raisin In The Sun" was certainly a very bad-tempered story filled with lots of biting bitterness and angry resentment among all of the members of the Younger family.

IMO - This film's story was so far removed from being uplifting in nature that it came across as being a really heavy-handed production that didn't provide any hopeful solutions for the downtrodden blacks sixty years ago in the USA.

Feb 04, 2019

How quickly we forget the difficult journey for families trying harder to achieve what they don’t have. The struggle to triumph in the face of adversity is wrought with peril and soul-searching heartbreak. It felt like a play with the tight interaction of the family and the small rooms.

Feb 19, 2016

The precarious equilibrium of an impoverished black family living in a Chicago slum is thrown into chaos when elderly matriarch Lena Younger receives a life insurance benefit of ten thousand dollars courtesy of her late husband. Taking its name from Langston Hughes’ poem "Harlem" which begs the simple question, “What happens to a dream deferred?” director Daniel Petrie’s adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry’s play casts a passionate eye on prejudice, identity, and the cold edicts of capitalism. The Younger family’s various dreams are indeed deferred—or crushed or largely forgotten—as Lena’s small inheritance teases them with promises of either deliverance or downfall. A generational schism opens between her son Walter’s cynical pursuit of the American Dream no matter what the cost and her implacable sense of dignity, borne out of her early experiences in the South. The final showdown between them, when it arrives, is both heartrending yet unexpectedly poignant. Reuniting most of the original broadway cast Petrie elicits knockout performances from his three leads Claudia McNeil, Sidney Poitier, and Ruby Dee, while Charles Lawton’s crisp B&W cinematography turns a cramped tenement apartment into a fractured battleground. Pure cinema.


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tt14 Jun 18, 2012

Brief Summary ( conflict ,themes, plot): Walter want to be man of the house. Take responsibility. He invested his money in a liquor store and lost the money. The money was supposed to go Beanthen’s school. Mama want to to buy a house where there were only white people on the block. The guy who was supposed to sell them the house. The guy said that he couldn’t sell them the house,so he offer them money to stay where they are at. Walter wanted to accepted the offer because the money,but at the end he didn’t the offer.


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tt14 Jun 18, 2012

“Our association is prepared, through the collective effort of our people, to buy the house from you at a financial gain to your family.”


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