A RAISIN IN THE SUN, adapted by Lorraine Hansberry from her stage play of the same name, chronicles the quintessentially American story of a struggling family combatting broken and deferred dreams. The film stars AFI Life Achievement Award honoree Sidney Poitier and was ranked #65 on AFI’s 100 YEARS… 100 CHEERS list of the most inspiring films of all time.
AFI Movie Club Tribute to Sidney Poitier: A RAISIN IN THE SUN
Louis Cameron Gossett Jr. salutes his A RAISIN IN THE SUN co-star Sidney Poitier
DID YOU KNOW? The title of Lorraine Hansberry’s play, “A Raisin in the Sun” – and her subsequent screenplay – is a reference to the poem “Harlem,” by Langston Hughes: “What happens to a dream deferred?/ Does it dry up/ like a raisin in the sun?”
DID YOU KNOW? Lorraine Hansberry’s play marked the first time a production written by a Black woman was produced on Broadway. A month into its critically acclaimed run, Columbia optioned the rights to adapt it for the screen.
DID YOU KNOW? Actors from the original Broadway play – Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeil, Ruby Dee, Diana Sands, Ivan Dixon, Louis Gossett Jr. and John Fiedler – all re-created their stage roles for the film version.
DID YOU KNOW? The process from script to screen was an unconventional one. As producer David Susskind stated in a New York Times interview, “We’ve violated every tenet of screen production. We took no screen tests, wrote no film treatment and we didn’t consider Sammy Davis Jr. and Earth Kitt for the leads.”
DID YOU KNOW? Columbia financed the $1.5 million budget for A RAISIN IN THE SUN, despite considering the material risky.
DID YOU KNOW? Ruby Dee was named Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Ruth Younger in A RAISIN IN THE SUN by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures.
DID YOU KNOW? A made-for-television adaptation of the play aired on ABC in 2008, starring Sean Combs and Phylicia Rashad.
Learn more at the AFI Catalog.
The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Discussion Questions
- How does the film illustrate the theme of Langston Hughes’ original poem?
- How was Lorraine Hansberry an important figure as not only a Black and LGBTQ playwright, but also an activist through her writing?
- What does the way in which each family member wants to spend the $10,000 check say about them as individuals?
- What are some examples of systemic racism and sexism in the film?
- What are the greatest strains on Walter and Ruth’s marriage?
- What is economic oppression? How do racism and economic oppression intersect?
- How is Walter conflicted after he loses the insurance money? What do you think about his final decision regarding giving up their family home in Clybourne Park? What does living in Clybourne Park symbolize for the Younger family?
- How would you rate A RAISIN IN THE SUN?
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