Production Company: Universal Pictures
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Top Billed Actors: Claudette Colbert, Warren William, Rochelle Hudson
IMDb Rating: 7.6
*Best Picture Nominee*
Won 0 Oscars
Nominated for 3 more:
Best Assistant Director - Scott R. Beal
Best Sound - Theodore Soderberg and Universal Pictures
Plot: An independent business woman boxes up her housekeeper's pancakes and makes it big in the city while her daughter falls in love with her fiancee. As for the housekeeper, her daughter has negative feelings toward her ancestry.
The subplot of Fredi Washington's character, the aforementioned Peola, is the most interesting story in the film. She is the light-skinned daughter of Beavers, Colbert's housekeeper and best friend. She doesn't want to be considered black and does everything in her power to pass as a white girl, even going as far as forsaking her dark-skinned mother. There are some incredibly emotional moments between Washington and Beavers and the effects of the former's actions in the script. It is sometimes hard to shift gears and think about Colbert's issues in the plot when Beaver's issues with her daughter is much more heartbreaking. Colbert's daughter, on the other hand, presents a different issue in that she falls in love with the man that Colbert is to marry, even though he is nearly twenty years her major. The shift between these two motherly conflicts is odd and sometimes jarring but it makes for an interesting story. Colbert still doesn't disappoint and she continues to show us why she deserved the Oscar that year, even if it wasn't for this film.
Although Colbert is a treat, as always, not everybody stands out like her. Ned Sparks as her business manager has a very strange acting style and gets old very quickly. Warren William gets overshadowed yet again by Colbert as he did in Cleopatra (1934). One can tell that Rochelle Hudson was early in her career as well as she doesn't transcend mediocrity. I am also a little disappointed with the lack of music. The music makes the final stages of the film very emotional and it would have been nice to hear more throughout the beginning and middle of the story. It is frustrating to hear it in certain scenes, but still go long stretches of time in which silence is heard. The technology was there at this point as evidenced by the use of music in select scenes.
Overall, this film has very strong themes on race and is therefore more important than mere entertainment. The story fascinates and there is much to be gained from it. The acting isn't the strongest and more music would have been welcomed, but Colbert and the story is worth the price of admission.
My Score: 7/10