(1949)3Lucia BozzolaPart of the post-war cycle of "social problem" films and one of the first Hollywood productions to tackle American racism head-on (but with a Hollywood casting compromise), Elia Kazan's Pinky (1949) examines Southern bigotry through the experience of an African American woman who can "pass" for white. With Jeanne Crain's Pinky caught between her love for a white Northern doctor and her allegiance to her grandmother Ethel Waters, Kazan (taking over for John Ford) schematically yet effectively depicts her fate in the South through drastic reversals in her treatment by police and shopkeepers, and a near-assault by two locals when she reveals the "truth" behind her pale complexion. The court battle over Pinky's inheritance of the remains of dowager Miss Em's plantation becomes a testament to color-blind justice. Despite the film's boldness in subject matter, 20th Century-Fox hedged its bets by casting a white actress in the lead, attesting to the feared limits of acceptance for an anti-racism drama. Still, though it was not quite as well-received as Kazan's similarly-minded anti-Semitism film Gentleman's Agreement (1947), Pinky was a success, garnering Oscar nominations for Crain, Waters and the inimitable Ethel Barrymore as the gruffly wise Miss Em.