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Discussion before

When David Susskind and Philip Rose decided to bring Lorraine Hansberry’s pioneering Broadway play to the screen, they knew better than to mess with her story. They had Hansberry adapt the script, sticking as closely to the original as possible, and also hired seven members of the original Broadway cast, including Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeil, Ruby Dee, Diana Sands and, in his film debut, Louis Gossett, Jr. The story of an African-American family using insurance money to move out of Chicago’s South Side to a home in the suburbs was inspired by a 1940 Supreme Court case close to Hansberry’s heart. Her father and the NAACP fought unsuccessfully to break a whites-only restriction on the neighborhood her parents wanted to move into. Hansberry’s depiction of the day-to-day lives of African-Americans was so new to Broadway, it took a year to raise the money for the show, drawing mostly on small investments raised at readings of the script. For the film, Daniel Petrie did some location shooting in Chicago but focused primarily on keeping the camera moving around the family’s small apartment. His work not only captured the beauty and humor of the play, but the work of its peerless original ensemble. (d. Daniel Petrie, 128m, DCP)

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