A Raisin in the Sun

1961

A Raisin in the Sun

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

94%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 17

87%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,146
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A Raisin in the Sun Photos

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; intelligent and ambitious but impulsive and often angry, he desperately wants to get ahead in a world that offers him few opportunities. His wife Ruth (Ruby Dee) takes in laundry to help make ends meet and watches over their son. Younger daughter Beneatha (Diana Sands) is a college student who wants to become a doctor and often speaks of searching for her cultural identity. On the death of her husband, Lena becomes the beneficiary of a $10,000 life insurance payment, and suddenly the family is in conflict over how the money should be spent. Lena wants to use the money for a down payment on a house. Beneatha is hoping that Lena will help her pay for medical school. And Walter Lee wants to go into business with friends who plan to open a liquor store, which he's convinced will be a sure money maker. The cast, nearly all reprising their roles from the original Broadway production, offers a collection of superb performances; also keep an eye peeled for a young Louis Gossett Jr. as George Murchison. While Daniel Petrie's direction never takes A Raisin in the Sun very far from its roots as a stage play, it captures the power and tension of a strong ensemble cast working with an intelligent and moving script.

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Cast

Sidney Poitier
as Walter Lee Younger
Claudia McNeil
as Lena Younger
Ruby Dee
as Ruth Younger
Diana Sands
as Beneatha Younger
Ivan Dixon
as Asagai
John Fiedler
as Mark Lindner
Louis Gossett Jr.
as George Murchison
Roy E. Glenn Sr.
as Willie Harris
Ray Stubbs
as Bartender
Rudolph Monroe
as Taxi Driver
Harry De Vere
as Employer
Thomas D. Jones
as Chauffeur
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News & Interviews for A Raisin in the Sun

Critic Reviews for A Raisin in the Sun

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (1)

Audience Reviews for A Raisin in the Sun

  • Oct 10, 2011
    In tenth grade, I did not appreciate "A Raisin in the Sun" by Lorraine Hansberry. In fact, I found it quite boring. Ten years later, I was deeply moved to tears. It's about a hard-working black family with big dreams living in a crowded apartment in Chicago. One day, they get an insurance check in the mail for $10,000 and their lives will change forever. Incredible performances by every single actor.
    Dannielle A Super Reviewer
  • May 03, 2011
    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
    Pierluigi P Super Reviewer
  • Oct 15, 2010
    Lorranine Hansberry's moving Broadway play is expertly brought to the sliver screen by director Daniel Petire, it concerns the Youngers, a Negro family attempting to break away from their small crowded ghetto apartment in Chicago, due to a $10,000 life insurance check from their late father. Walter Lee played superbly by Sidney Poitier in a truly impressive performance wants to invest the money in a liquor store with some of his partner friends. Lena his widowed mother, played brilliantly with authority and compassion by Claudia McNeil want to buy a house, and give the rest of the money to her daughter Beneatha, played wonderfully by Diana Sands so she could complete her medical school, Lena totally refuses to put any of the money in Walter Lee's liquor store dream. Walter Lee is left agonizing over his mother's decision, and is shocked to fine out that his wife, played by Rudy Dee in a wonderfully radiant and heartfelt performance is expecting a new child, Walter Lee takes the money and is ripped off by one of his partners, leave him with nothing, which now threatens to tear his family apart. It is practically a photographed play, adhering closely to the original, the dialogue is pungent and direct, thanks to Hansberry's outstanding screenplay from her own play. Their are superlative supporting performances by Ivan Dixon, Louis Gossett Jr, Stephen Perry, John Fiedler, Joel Fluellen. Roy E. Glenn Sr. and Ray Studds. A richly detailed slice of life, and a rewarding cinematic experience. Highly Recommended.
    Danny R Super Reviewer
  • Feb 22, 2010
    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.
    Devon B Super Reviewer

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