DFT @ Home | Native Son (restored)

(Argentina/1951—directed by Pierre Chenal)

One of the most controversial novels of its day, Richard Wright's Native Son, first published in 1940, exposed the injustices of urban African American life as witnessed through the eyes of small-time hoodlum Bigger Thomas, whose lifetime of deprivation and the moral confusion that results eventually lands him on death row, where he reflects on the circumstances that led to his fate.

This rarely seen 1951 film version of the novel, directed by Pierre Chenal and starring the novel’s author, Richard Wright, in the role of Bigger Thomas, was heavily censored by regional state/municipal censor boards when originally released. A complete English language print of the original Argentinian release and a duplicate negative of the uncensored cut were combined for this new restoration – the most complete version of Native Son ever shown in the United States.

Presented in association with the Library of Congress, Native Son is preceded by a special introduction by film historians Jacqueline Najima Stewart, Professor of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago, and Eddie Muller of the Film Noir Foundation; both appear by courtesy of Turner Classic Movies. (108 minutes)

“Genuine noir… an essential and previously missing link in mid-20th-century cinema.” -Eddie Muller, Film Comment


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