AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
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A Raisin in the Sun
Director: Daniel Petrie (Dir)
Release Date:   1961
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 29 Mar 1961
Duration (in mins):   128
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Cast:   Sidney Poitier (Walter Lee Younger)  
    Claudia McNeil (Lena Younger)  
    Ruby Dee (Ruth Younger)  
    Diana Sands (Beneatha Younger)  
    Ivan Dixon (Asagai)  
    John Fiedler (Mark Lindner)  
    Louis Gossett (George Murchison)  
    Stephen Perry (Travis Younger)  
    Joel Fluellen (Bobo)  
    Roy Glenn (Willie Harris)  
    Ray Stubbs (Bartender)  
    Rudolph Monroe (Taxi driver)  
    George DeNormand (Employer)  
    Louis Terkel (Herman)  
    Thomas D. Jones (Chauffeur)  

Summary: The Youngers are a Negro family living in three crowded, sunless rooms on Chicago's South Side. The squalid routine of their lives is suddenly disrupted when Lena Younger receives a $10,000 check from the company that insured her late husband. Lena wants to use the money to buy a house and to help her daughter, Beneatha, finish medical school. Lena's son, Walter Lee, however, wants to invest the money in a liquor store so he can rise above his status of chauffeur for a wealthy white man. Lena disapproves of the idea and makes a down payment of $3,500 on a small house in a white neighborhood. Frustrated and enraged, Walter Lee quarrels with his mother and his wife, Ruth, and storms out of the flat. He stays away from work for 3 days, and Lena finds him in a bar. She offers him the remaining $6,500 ($3,500 of which is to be set aside for Beneatha's education). Once more united and optimistic, the family prepares to move into their new home. Not even a visit from a hypocritical representative of an "improvement association," who offers to buy back the house at a higher price to preserve the community's all-white character, can alter their decision to move. Then their world collapses. Unknown to the rest of the family, Walter Lee invests the entire $6,500 in a liquor store and is swindled. Realizing he has betrayed his mother's trust, threatened his sister's future, and thrown away his father's life savings, Walter Lee desperately decides to accept the "improvement association"'s offer. But under the eyes of his entire family, he sees that such a move is only a step backwards, and he once more rejects the offer. Though it means hard work and years of sacrifice for all, the Youngers make their move. 

Production Company: Paman--Doris Productions  
Distribution Company: Columbia Pictures  
Director: Daniel Petrie (Dir)
  Sam Nelson (Asst dir)
Producer: David Susskind (Prod)
  Philip Rose (Prod)
Writer: Lorraine Hansberry (Scr)
Photography: Charles Lawton Jr. (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Carl Anderson (Art dir)
Film Editor: William A. Lyon (Film ed)
  Paul Weatherwax (Film ed)
Music: Laurence Rosenthal (Mus)
  Arthur Morton (Orch)
Sound: Charles J. Rice (Sd)
  George Cooper (Sd)
Make Up: Ben Lane (Makeup)
  Helen Hunt (Hairstyles)
Country: United States

Source Text: Based on the play A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (New York, 11 Mar 1959).
Authors: Lorraine Hansberry

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Paman--Doris Productions 1/4/1961 dd/mm/yyyy LP20541

 
Genre: Drama
 
Subjects (Major): Chauffeurs
  Chicago--South Side
  Family life
  Inheritance
  Insurance
  Liquor stores
  African Americans
  Racial integration
  Racism
  Swindlers and swindling
  Widows

Note: Location scenes filmed in Chicago. 

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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