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A Raisin in the Sun (1961)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 1
Fresh: 1 | Rotten: 0



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Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 7,021

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Movie Info

While this original movie version of Lorraine Hansberry's award-winning play may have dated somewhat, it was groundbreaking when first released in 1961, and a wealth of future plays, films, and TV productions have taken their lead from this socially conscious drama about a struggling African-American family. Lena Younger (Claudia McNeil) is a strong, proud woman who has raised a family in a crowded apartment on the South Side of Chicago. Her son Walter Lee (Sidney Poitier) works as a chauffeur;


Drama, Classics

Feb 22, 2000

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

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All Critics (17) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (14) | Rotten (0) | DVD (7)

It does have enough gritty insights and (for the time) strikingly accurate production details to keep the level of interest up.

November 13, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Classic based on the Pulitzer prize-winning play.

January 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Daniel Petries' screen version is still a play, but it's a powerful family melodrama, extremely well acted by the entire ensemble, headed by Sidney Poitier

December 11, 2010 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Directed in rather pedestrian fashion by Daniel Petrie, the story is powerful enough to rise above such limitations.

August 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Cinemania

Fine adaptation of stage play giving Poitier one of his first hits.

March 14, 2009

The performances are uniformly excellent.

November 13, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Ground-breaking in that this was the first drama by a black woman ever to be produced on Broadway, and the play was suspended in order for the original cast to be transported to Hollywood.

December 30, 2006 Full Review Source: Film4

[An] intelligent screen adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's groundbreaking play.

March 10, 2003 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

sometimes claustrophic but powerful study of serious generational and racial issues

June 27, 2002 Full Review Source: All Movie Guide
All Movie Guide

The struggle to triumph in the face of adversity transcends the film being pegged as a civil rights picture, and thanks to the leadership of Poitier, a classic is born.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for A Raisin in the Sun

It deals, in a very touching way, with issues that test all real life families regardless of their ethnicity or economical background. The strong morality of the family matriarch who tries to lessen their children's rebellious and contestatary attitude towards an unfair society
May 3, 2011

Super Reviewer

A Raisin in the Sun was the first african-american play written by an african-american to appear on broadway, but how does it translate to the big screen? There seems to be very little change in the film adaptation of the stage play (in fact, most of the cast was brought directly from the stage production to hollywood in order to utilize their performances). Indeed, the direction could've been set on auto-pilot and the same film would have resulted. A Raisin in the Sun feels like a play slapped onto film one night, there's no special effort for film invested in either the direction, sets or general production. Sidney Poitier stars as Walter Younger, a man who, along with his wife and young son, live a day-to-day existence in a cramped apartment along with Walter's sister (Diana Sands) and mother (Claudia McNeil). Walter is a chauffeur who dreams of starting his own business. After his father dies, his mother comes into an insurance settlement of ten thousand dollars, and Walter has big plans for that money. Those plans are most often thwarted by his sister Beneatha, who's attending school with the intention of becoming a doctor, and sees the money as a ticket to medical school. The wife and mother seem to be two of a kind, as they serve as mediators in the family scuffles. The wife seems to have nothing but patience for a man who continually dismisses her as nothing more than a nuisance in his life. In fact, Poitier's Walter is quite the disgusting character, a slightly less warped version of A Streetcar Named Desire's Stanley. Sister Beneatha is no less reprehensible, and I'm hard-pressed to think up (off the top of my head, anyway) a more self-righteously self-obsessed character in the world of film. The only truly sympathetic (and realistic) character in the film is Mama. She's an earthy, good-souled woman who can't understand what went wrong with her children, that they should lack so much empathy for their own family members. The matriarch of the family feels authentic, the rest of the characters are just that: characters (to be fair, alot of plays don't ring true to my ears, sometimes the dialogue given to actors seems grandiose, as if the writer were imagining shakespearean drama rather than their own work). But what of the central theme of the play/film? What moral or platitude does the writer seek to imbue upon the viewer? There doesn't seem to be one in this film, other than the tacked-on side plot involving racism. The story/play/film of A Raisin in the Sun may have inspired a whole host of 1970s television (Good Times, The Jeffersons, etc.), but doesn't really elevate itself beyond a standard episode of such sitcoms. It's thoroughly watchable yet unfortunately forgettable.
February 22, 2010
Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

After watching the first hour in English, I couldn't resist checking it out to watch the rest for myself. The second half is even better than the first, striking at the emotional core of the racism pertaining to black people's social positions. A dream deferred, indeed.
January 18, 2008

Super Reviewer

Enjoyed reading the play in college. Enjoyed seeing the play on a community theater stage. Many of the performers from the original Broadway production recreated their roles for this first movie version. With the medium of movies we are given the chance to see a bit more of the Younger family's world, especially the bar where Walter Lee goes to dream with his friends and drown his sorrows as well as the house, which promises a brighter future to Lena and her children. Hansberry, who adapted her own play, gives the cast wonderful complex material. Sometimes Sidney Poitier and Diana Sands as brother and sister seem to still be playing their roles with emotions and voices better suited to the live theater than the more intimate movie camera. Even so, the moments of humor and heartrending family strife combine to make a powerful story of people who's story has rarely been told.
June 27, 2011

Super Reviewer

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