Hansberry's lovely adaptation of her 1959 Broadway hit about a black family in financial straits reunites seven of the original cast in the film version.
McNeil is the matriarch of a family living in cramped quarters on Chicago's south side (where all the location shots were done). Her husband has just died and she receives a check for $10,000 from the insurance company, quite a sizeable sum at the time. McNeil wants to get out of the ghetto and
buy a decent house, then use the rest of the windfall to put her daughter through med school. But Poitier, her angry, ambitious son, has other ideas.
The performances are uniformly excellent, with Poitier illuminating the limitations placed on black men in American society and McNeil handling the role of the matriarch with unflinching emotional honesty. Look for Gossett in a small part as a black youth fixated by WASP values. Since much of the
action takes place in the tiny apartment, director Petrie had to pull out all the stops to keep it from being stage-bound, and, with the help of cinematographer Lawton, he succeeded.
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