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John Stahl’s Imitation of LIfe


Dir. John Stahl. 1934, 111 mins. 35mm. With Claudette Colbert, Louise Beavers, Warren Williams. Although John Stahl never achieved the same auteurist critical regard as Douglas Sirk, Stahl virtually invented the film genre of family melodrama in the silent era and continued through the 1940s. With the Depression as background, Stahl’s Imitation of Life is as complex and moving in its way as Sirk’s, offering an unprecedented critique of capitalism, racism, patriarchy, and maternal love.

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