- 1 hr 42 min
"Pinky" is a movie that explores the complex issues of race and prejudice in post-World War II America. The movie centers around a young, light-skinned black woman named Pinky (Jeanne Crain) who has just completed her nursing education in the North and returns to her small, segregated southern hometown to care for her grandmother. Pinky's grandmother has been a longtime black nurse for wealthy white families in the town, and Pinky is immediately thrown into the center of a racially charged power struggle between the town's black and white communities. Her light skin and northern education intrinsically set her apart from the other black residents of the town, who see Pinky as an outsider and a potential traitor to their cause.
On the other hand, the white citizens of the town see Pinky as a potential ally, and quickly conscript her into a job caring for the bedridden white matriarch of one of the town's wealthiest families, the Vandenburghs. It becomes clear very quickly to Pinky that the Vandenburghs see her as a servant, and their attitudes and prejudices towards her are abundantly clear.
The movie is an unflinching look at the deeply ingrained prejudice of society in the 1940s, as Pinky struggles to find her footing and her identity in a world that doesn't seem to want her. Ethel Barrymore gives a standout performance as the elderly Mrs. Vandenburgh, whose age and illness have rendered her much more open-minded and compassionate towards Pinky than her daughter (portrayed with chilling aptitude by Evelyn Varden) is.
Ethel Waters plays the role of Missie, Pinky's childhood caretaker, who - like Pinky - is light-skinned, but who chose to embrace a life with the black community in their town, and is looked up to as a leader by her fellow black residents. Waters brings a sense of warmth and groundedness to her role, and the complicated relationship between Pinky and Missie is one of the movie's most fascinating threads.
Ultimately, the movie is about Pinky's quest to find her own sense of self in a world that seems to want to take all of that away from her. As she navigates the twisted web of race and class in her small town, she is forced to confront some of her own internalized prejudices and, eventually, to take a stand for what she believes in. "Pinky" is a powerful, thought-provoking movie that offers a glimpse into a difficult and complicated time in American history.
Pinky is a 1949 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 42 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.2.