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A Raisin in the Sun (1961 film)

A Raisin in the Sun is a 1961 drama film directed by Daniel Petrie and starring Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil, Diana Sands, Roy Glenn, and Louis Gossett Jr. (in his film debut), and adapted from the 1959 play of the same name by Lorraine Hansberry. It follows a black family that wants a better life away from the city.

A Raisin in the Sun
Raisin in the sun 1961 poster horizontal b.jpg
One of the original lobby cards
Directed byDaniel Petrie
Produced byPhilip Rose
David Susskind
Screenplay byLorraine Hansberry
Based onA Raisin in the Sun
by Lorraine Hansberry
StarringSidney Poitier
Ruby Dee
Claudia McNeil
Diana Sands
Stephen Perry
Music byLaurence Rosenthal
CinematographyCharles Lawton, Jr.
Edited byWilliam A. Lyon
Paul Weatherwax
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • May 29, 1961 (1961-05-29)
Running time
128 min.
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.5 million

A Raisin in the Sun was released by Columbia Pictures on May 29, 1961. In 2005, the film was selected for preservation in the United States of America National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".


The Younger family—Walter Lee, his wife Ruth, younger sister Beneatha, son Travis and mother Lena—live in a small apartment in Chicago's South Side. They are anticipating a life insurance check for Lena's husband's death in the amount of $10,000, and each of them has an idea as to what he or she would like to do with this money. Matriarch Lena wants to buy a house to fulfill the dream she shared with her deceased husband. Walter Lee would rather use the money to invest in a liquor store, believing the income would put an end to the family's financial woes. Ruth, wanting to provide more space and better opportunities for Travis, agrees with Lena. Beneatha would like to use the money to pay her medical school tuition.

Lena spends $3,500 for a down payment on a house in Clybourne Park, and after being agitated many times by Walter, gives him the remaining $6,500 and tells him to save $3,000 of it for Beneatha's medical school and take the remaining $3,500 for his own investments. Meanwhile, Ruth discovers she is pregnant and, fearing another child will add to the financial pressures, considers having an abortion. Walter voices no objection, but Lena is strongly against it, saying "I thought we gave children life, not take it away from them".

Beneatha rejects her suitor George, believing he's blind to the problems of their race. Her Nigerian classmate Joseph Asagai proposes to her, wanting to take her to Africa with him after they finish school, but she is unsure what to do.

When their future neighbors find out the Youngers are moving in, they send Mark Lindner (known as Karl in the play) from the Clybourne Park Improvement Association to offer them money in return for staying away, but they refuse the deal. Meanwhile, Walter loses the insurance money when one of his "partners" in the liquor store scheme, Willie Harris, skips town with the money.

Desperate, Walter offers to take Lindner up on his offer to take money to stay out of Clybourne Park, even while his family begs him not to sell away their dignity. When Lindner arrives, however, Walter has a last-minute change of heart and rejects Lindner's offer again. The Youngers eventually move out of their apartment, fulfilling their dream. The future seems uncertain and slightly dangerous, but they believe that they can succeed through optimism, determination, and remaining together as a family.



Ruby Dee won the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress. Both Poitier and MacNeil were nominated for Golden Globe Awards, and director Petrie received a special "Gary Cooper Award" at the 1961 Cannes Film Festival.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Festival de Cannes: A Raisin in the Sun". Retrieved 2009-02-21.

External linksEdit