Although Twentieth-Century Fox's "Gentlemen's Agreement" won the Oscar for Best Picture and Best Director in 1947, "Pinky" (also by Fox and director Elia Kazan) is a message film that seems to have better withstood the test of time and is, in my opinion, a more watchable film--and probably a lot more daring in its day.
Pinky is a young nursing school graduate played by Jeanne Crain. After spending the last three years up North studying, she has come home to visit with her grandmother (Ethel Waters)...a Black woman. It seems that for the last three years, the very white-skinned Crain has been posing as White...and you certainly can't blame her in light of the second-class status (or less) afforded to Black-Americans at the time.
The first day she goes into town, she is arrested (though she was doing nothing illegal), given a "talkin' to" by the Judge and almost raped on the way home! In light of this, you can certainly understand her wanting to leave as soon as possible and get away from this hellish Southern town. However, something intervenes. Grandma wants Pinky to stay a bit and take care of their neighbor, Miss Em (Ethel Barrymore). Pinky could care less, though, if and when Miss Em dies--as she's just another despicable White lady. Grandma shames Pinky into staying and helping Miss Em to die--after all, if she doesn't help, Grandma promises to knock her silly! All Pinky can remember are bad things about Miss Em, though Grandma's recollections are far different--telling Pinky that Miss Em is a good woman and they owe her for her past kindness. Pinky doesn't believe it, but doesn't want to disappoint Grandma or get whooped, so she goes to Miss Em's mansion to care for her. Surprisingly, after a very rocky start, the two women develop respect for each other.
Some time later, Miss Em dies and the full extent to which she cared for Pinky is now apparent. Just before dying, Miss Em left her estate to Pinky! The problem, however, is that Miss Em's closest relative is an evil and selfish lady, Melba (Evelyn Varden--who was great playing horrible women in this film and others like "The Bad Seed"), contests the will. In addition, Melba is a racist and does what she can to stir up resentment in the community. What will Pinky do? Can she get a fair shake in this terrible town? Is it worth staying and fighting for what is rightfully hers? Tune in and see.
I loved the film because it dared to talk about racism. The way many White-Americans treated Blacks was disgraceful and was finally being addressed by Hollywood in films like this and "Intruder in the Dust" (also 1949). Other related topics such as interracial marriage, bitterness within Black-America due to racism and rape were also brought into the film--making it a very, very daring film. I am sure it did not play in many towns in the US and had to have been met with hostility by some. However, because the acting, direction and script were all top-notch, it managed to counter the pin-heads out there, as it's hard to see the film and not be led to see the evil and injustice that was rampant in some parts of the country.
A must-see and a unique and powerful film.
Action / Drama
Action / Drama
Pinky, a light-skinned black woman, returns to her grandmother's house in the South after graduating from a Northern nursing school. Pinky tells her grandmother that she has been "passing" for white at school in the North. In addition, Pinky has fallen in love with a young white doctor, Dr. Thomas Adams, who knows nothing about her black heritage. Pinky says that she will return to the North, but Granny Johnson convinces her to stay and treat an ailing white woman, Miss Em. Meanwhile, Dr. Canady, a black physician from another part of the state, visits Pinky and asks her to train some African American students, but she declines. Pinky nurses Miss Em but is resentful because she feels that she is doing the same thing her grandmother did. Pinky and Miss Em slowly develop a mutual respect for each other. Mrs. Em leaves Pinky her property when she dies, but relatives of the deceased woman contest the new will in court. To raise money for the court fees, Pinky washes clothes by hand with her grandmother. The court rules in Pinky's favor and she keeps the land. Tom wants her to resume her life as a white woman and to marry him, but she refuses. Pinky decides to use the house and land for Miss Em's Clinic and Nursery School.
October 15, 2022 at 02:25 AM