ANNA LUCASTA (director: Arnold Laven; screenwriter: play by Philip Yordan/Philip Yordan; cinematographer: Lucien Ballard; editors: Robert Lawrence/Richard C. Meyer; music: Elmer Bernstein; cast: Eartha Kitt (Anna Lucasta), Sammy Davis Jr. (Danny Johnson), Frederick O’Neal (Frank), Henry Scott (Rudolph Slocum), Rex Ingram (Joe Lucasta), Georgia Burke (Theresa), James Edwards (Eddie), Rosetta LeNoire (Stella), Isabel Cooley (Katie), Alvin Childress (Noah), Claire Leyba (Blanche), John Proctor (Stanley), Charles Swain (Lester); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sidney Harmon; MGM; 1959)
“Melodrama based on playwright Philip Yordan’s 1944 Broadway play, that had an all-black cast and starred Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A tedious melodrama based on playwright Philip Yordan’s 1944 Broadway play, that had an all-black cast and starred Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. Using a Negro cast, this 1959 film is a remake of the 1949 film that had an all-white cast and starred Paulette Goddard as a member of a greedy Polish family. It’s directed by Arnold Laven (“Sam Whiskey”/”Rough Night in Jericho”/”The Glory Guy”), who keeps it gloomy and uninspiring and unbelievable.
Joe (Rex Ingram) and Theresa Lucasta (Georgia Burke) are an elderly couple who are transplants from Alabama. They live in Los Angeles with their mailman son Stanley (John Proctor), his wife Katie (Isabel Cooley), their daughter Stella (Rosetta LeNoire) and her scheming husband Frank (Frederick O’Neal).
Ever since Joe kicked out his teenage daughter Anna (Eartha Kitt) when he caught her holding hands with her boyfriend after the prom, she’s lived as a streetwalker in San Diego. Joe receives a letter from his best friend Otis from Alabama telling him his agricultural college grad son Rudolph (Henry Scott) is visiting California and wants him to help his son get a good wife. Theresa thinks nice guy Rudolph would be just the right tonic for her wayward daughter, while Frank thinks he’s rich and wants him to marry Anna so he can borrow money from him to invest in his get rich quick schemes. Thereby the family pressures Joe to bring Anna back home.
Anna falls for Rudolph and he falls for her, and after she confesses her dirty past they wed. Joe, in a mean-spirited gesture, tells the college dean who just hired Rudolph that his wife is a tramp. He then tells Anna he will ruin all his future job prospects. The unhappy Anna writes to her bad boy sailor boyfriend Danny (Sammy Davis Jr.) in San Diego and he comes to Los Angeles to take her away. But when her father dies and in his last words calls her his little angel, she changes her mind and remains with Rudolph (after all his job opportunities will no longer be ruined by her dad).
REVIEWED ON 3/30/2009 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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