Claudine (1974)

Claudine is what many (your webmaster included) consider the highlight of Diahann Carrolls movie career. Everything is just right with this film - the perfect cast, a warm and funny story, great music... Ms. Carroll deserved the Oscar nomination, in fact I strongly believe she deserved to win it! She was also nominated for a Golden Globe. 
  Originally Diana Sands was chosen to play the lead, but when she became seriously ill (and eventually passed away) just before shooting the movie the role went to Diahann. As she writes in her first book, Diahann!, she fell in love with the role as soon as soon as she had read the movie script;

"With humanity and humor, Claudine told the story of a mother's determination to bring her six children safely through the perils and poverty of the Harlem ghetto. The cards are stacked against her: her fifteen-year-old daughter is pregnant; one of her sons has dropped out of school and become a street-corner gambler; another is so traumatized he refuses to speak. Out on her own without a husband, she has to resort to welfare to supplement her meager income as a domestic and is forced to endure all the attendant humiliations - hiding her toaster from the social worker, concealing her relationship with the new man in her life, a fiercely independent garbage collector with some money and family problems of his own. Claudine is harried and exhausted by the pressure that beset her on every side, yet she is so strong-willed and persevering, so committed to the well-being of her family, that somehow she manages to survive these adversities with her dignity intact."

Diahann also talks about the "real" Claudine:

"I have known this woman all my life. We grew up together in the same neighborhood. She was one of those girls who married too young and had babies too fast, and now that her middle years were upon her has to live with the consequences of her mistakes. Who can say for certain - if I had had different parents and hadn't been blessed with some talent, I could easily have become Claudine. /.../ There was so much of Claudine in me that I couldn't see anyone else in the world playing her. I felt I could give life to her humanity. I felt I could make people care about her."

Diahann was shocked when she heard about Diana Sands having to give up the role, and that it was Diana who insisted they replace her with Diahann. In fact, everybody else involved in the production felt Diahann was way too chic to be able to understand and portray the gritty reality of Claudine's world, but Diana Sands insisted. The doubts director John Berry might have had at first soon disappeared, and today no one can imagine anyone else but Diahann in the role.
  Claudine became a big success, and though it was a low-budget independent movie, Diahann received both an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe nomination, a sure sign that the movie was embraced by both the audience as well as the movie business.

A review from Mr Showbiz: Charming, skillful comedy-drama about two attractive
people in love. Jones and Carroll are delightful together in this film about
Harlem residents and how they cope with poverty and ghetto life.
A welcome relief from the spate of black super-stud movies.

CAST & CREDITS

Cast:
Diahann Carroll ... Claudine
James Earl Jones ... Roop
Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs ... Charles (as Lawrence Hilton-Jacques)
Tamu Blackwell ... Charlene
David Kruger ... Paul
Yvette Curtis ... Patrice
Eric Jones ... Francis
Socorro Stephens ... Lurlene
Adam Wade ... Owen
Harrison Avery ... Minister
Mordecai Lawner ... Process Server
Elisa Loti ... Miss Kabak
Roxie Roker ... Mrs. Winston
Jay Van Leer ... Bar Woman
Judy Mills ... Bus Woman #1
Alyce Webb ... Bus Woman #2
Lil Henderson ... Bus Woman #3
Yvonne Sutherland ... Bus Woman #4
Bernard Barrow ... Mr. Winograd
Joan Kaye ... Mrs. Winograd
Stefan Gierasch ... Sanitation Foreman
Sandi Franklin ... Prostitute
Reverend Carlton Coleman ... Gospel Leader
Ralph Wilcox ... Young Brother

Directed by: John Berry
Written by: Lester Pine and Tina Pine

The movie premiered April 22, 1974.

DVD RELEASE

Released on DVD in January, 2003. This edition is anamorphic widescreen and includes the original theatrical trailer as a bonus.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment #2001882

Previously released on VHS.

SOUNDTRACK

The Claudine soundtrack is well worth checking out! The music was written by Curtis Mayfield, and performed by Gladys Knight & The Pips. They had a hit with one of the songs from the film, "On And On".

 

PICTURES

EXTERNAL LINKS (Opens in new window)

Claudine on IMDB.com
Claudine on Wikipedia


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