I'm usually a really terrible person to watch television with. I'm an obsessive channel surfer and a speed reader, which means it's usually just a blur, and then when I do stop to watch something it's almost always a reality program in which people are horrible to each other.
BUT, tonight I stayed in with the puppy and saw an amazing movie on TCM -- Imitation of Life - Claudette Colbert, not Lana Turner.
I had read about it before as a famous tragic mulatto story, but it's way much more than that. It's about commerce, capitalism, single mothers, friendship, Aunt Jemima, education, race, and identity. And it's complicated, keeping up the surprises, despite being fundamentally a melodrama. For a 2006 audience, there are moments of discomfort watching Louise Beavers be the stereotypical mammy, but way fewer than watching a preview for "Bringing Down The House." And she's the hero. For her intelligence and ideas, not just her warm, fun-loving personality.
Favorite and most "holy cow, this is 1934" line:
Claudette Colbert about Louise Beavers' character's daughter: She's very smart.
Louise Beavers: We all start out smart. We don't get dumb till later.
Plus really great supporting performances from Ned Sparks and Warren William. And an amazing job from Fredi Washington, an important African American actress and civil rights advocate, unlike the white lady in the Sirk remake.
So go watch it. And if your friend stops by to deliver mangos 10 minutes before the end, you can make him stay and watch it and try not to tear up.