CAROLE LOMBARD - My Favorite Actress

Saturday, August 15, 2015

PINKY (1949)

Here is my contribution to The Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon as hosted by In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood

I had never seen this film before TCM aired it the other night and was completely blown away by it. The story follows a young light skinned black woman who passes for white, leaves her home in Mississippi and goes north to attend nursing school. Pinky as she is called and played by Jeanne Crain, returns home after graduation to see her grandmother (Ethel Waters). Once there Pinky finds out that Granny has been caring for the ailing Ms. Em (Ethel Barrymore) and doesn't like it too much. Granny's little shack house sits on Ms. Em very large plantation estate. Pink recalls how she was treated badly by Ms. Em when Pinky was a child and has issues with her when Granny asks her to take care of Ms. Em as her nurse. At first Pinky wants no part of it but changes her mind once Granny tells her of how Ms. Em cared for her when she was sick. So their first meeting is tense as expected but over the next few days Pinky and Ms. Em come to understand each other. The rest of the film deals with Pinky dating a white doctor who finds out later on about Pinky's heritage and a legal battle over Ms. Em's estate between Pinky and Ms. Em's sister. This is a strong and emotional film, expertly directed by Elia Kazan, who gets three remarkable performances from his three women. Ethel Waters is just effortless in her part as Granny, that you don't even view her acting, but as a person trying to deal with a headstrong granddaughter and race relations. The great Ethel Barrymore is superb as usual and gets the most of her performance via scenes with Ms. Crain. Her character may have been a fixture of the old South and their traditions and views, but she is willing to accept the new way of thinking by her interaction with Pinky. And finally Jeanne Crain who gives probably the best performance of her career. She plays Pinky perfectly which is amazing, because this type of role could have easily been either over the top or not strong enough. She is white but has to play a black woman and she pulls it off with grace and class. I was genuinely moved by her performance that had several scenes where she said that she should be treated as a person and not judged by the color of  her skin. She should have won the Academy Award that year but alas did not. But regardless, Pinky is a great film that needs to be seen by everyone. It ranks right up there with To Kill A Mockingbird in my opinion.

Here's the link to go view other entries in this blogathon:



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