5.7/10
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6 user 4 critic

Native Son (1951)

In 1940s Chicago, a young black man takes a job as a chauffeur to a white family, which takes a turn for the worse when he accidentally kills the teenage daughter of the couple and then tries to cover it up.

Director:

Pierre Chenal

Writers:

Pierre Chenal, Richard Wright (novel)
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Wright ... Bigger Thomas
Jean Wallace ... Mary Dalton
Nicholas Joy ... Henry Dalton
Gloria Madison Gloria Madison ... Bessie Mears
Charles Cane Charles Cane ... Det. Britten
George Rigaud ... Farley, a reporter
George D. Green George D. Green ... Panama
Willa Pearl Curtis Willa Pearl Curtis ... Mrs. Hannah Thomas
Gene Michael Gene Michael ... Jan Erlone
Don Dean Don Dean ... Max
Ned Campbell Ned Campbell ... Buckley
Ruth Robert Ruth Robert ... Helen Dalton
George Nathanson George Nathanson ... Joe, a reporter
Georges Roos Georges Roos ... Scoop
Lewis MacKenzie Lewis MacKenzie ... Stanley
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Storyline

In 1940s Chicago, a young black man takes a job as a chauffeur to a white family, which takes a turn for the worse when he accidentally kills the teenage daughter of the couple and then tries to cover it up.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Richard Wright's SAVAGE, TERRIFYING BEST SELLER EXPLODES ONTO THE SCREEN! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Argentina | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 March 1951 (Argentina) See more »

Also Known As:

En skugga faller See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Canada Lee was set to star as Bigger Thomas (he had shot to fame in Orson Welles's Broadway production of Native Son), but he was stuck in limbo with South African customs agents during the filming of Cry, the Beloved Country (1951), not to mention his failing health eventually caused Lee to back out of the project. See more »

Connections

Remade as Native Son (1986) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Better Than I Expected
5 February 2010 | by Sturgeon54See all my reviews

As an admirer of Wright's written work - especially "Native Son" - I had incredibly low expectations for several reasons: there was next to no budget, the cast and crew (including the starring role) were all amateurs, the director was not American and had never made an American film before this, the film had to be shot in Argentina, and "Native Son" is such a dense, complex, psychological piece of work to begin with.

But, if you look at this as a simple B-movie melodrama with a racial subtext that was badly missing from almost all of the films of its day, it isn't bad. In film, you don't get motivation, you get action, and the novel "Native Son" was all about hidden motivations and desires. Maybe it was a bad idea to even attempt to make Wright's novel into a film, but one must give him and the filmmakers credit for trying. In the era just before the McCarthy hearings and the blacklist, a feature film released to the public that was even half as potent as Wright's novel would have been commendable.

An idea actually occurred to me while watching this: someone should make a feature film about the making of "Native Son." From what I've read, the production faced many obstacles and setbacks, both physical and ideological, and I think the story behind this would be fascinating - especially the difficulty of an author playing his own creation while trying to maintain his artistic integrity. Of course, Wright's life was fascinating in and of itself. Spike Lee, are you listening?


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