A Raisin in the Sun (1961)

A Raisin in the Sun (1961)

Director: Daniel Petrie
Starring: Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeil, Ruby Dee

A poor black family in Chicago hopes to turn their lives around with their father's life insurance check, but money alone is not enough to solve their problems.

I saw the '98 TV movie starring Danny Glover back in high school and I was looking forward to the opportunity to see how Sidney Poitier took on the role. Much as Othello is seen as something of a test for black actors, so too is A Raisin in the Sun. Perhaps "test" isn't the best word for it, but I think most of you know what I mean. It's a performance that you can use to gauge an actor's measure. The character of Walter Lee is a difficult one in part because he's such a dirtbag in his initial setting. It feels weird seeing an actor like Poitier in the role, but he really delivers. Some people claim that the acting is too overblown and theatrical, but I don't mind it myself. Maybe it's not optimized for film, but that's never been something that really bothered me. Everyone was solid in this but besides Poitier, I want to give particular note to Claudia McNeil as Lena. This film is also Louis Gossett Jr.'s film debut as the nerdy Geroge Murchison and you're going to find it weird having mousy John Fiedler (a.k.a. Piglet) as the homeowners' association representative trying to buy the Youngers off. It can be a hard film to watch if you're the conflict-avoidant type as there's plenty of interpersonal drama, but it's powerful stuff. Given that this was made two years after the play's original debut, this is probably one of the best snapshots of the setting in time it came from. It has my recommendation for a watch.

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