Pinky (Jeanne Crain), a black woman who works as a nurse in Boston, finds she is able to "pass for white." Afraid her true heritage will be discovered, she leaves her white fiancé (William Lundigan) and returns home to Mississippi. There, she helps her ailing grandmother (Ethel Waters) by caring for her employer (Ethel Barrymore), an imperious plantation owner. When she names Pinky heiress to her estate, the community rises in resentment, triggering a sensational court trial.
Elia Kazan directed this, one of Hollywood's early attacks on racism, starring Jeanne Crain as Patricia "Pinky" Johnson. Patricia is a light-skinned black woman who is studying nursing at a New England medical institute. A white doctor, Thomas Adams (William Lundigan), has fallen in love with Patricia and wants to marry her, but Patricia refuses his proposal. Convinced their interracial union would never work out, Patricia believes Thomas would never be able to endure the acrimony that would be heaped upon their marriage.
Patricia leaves New England to return to her childhood home in the South, where her grandmother (Ethel Waters) works for rich widow Miss Em (Ethel Barrymore). When Miss Em takes ill, Patricia cares for her. Upon Miss Em's death, it is discovered that she has bequeathed her entire estate to Patricia. Miss Em's family disputes the will because Patricia is black, and a courtroom battle ensues over the estate.
Black & White
- Audio Commentary by film historian Kenneth Geist
- Original Theatrical Trailer
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