Walter Lee (Danny Glover) goes on a powerful, intense rant in this clip from “A Raisin In The Sun”. This version, from 1989, was a rare made-for-tv version broadcast on PBS's American Playhouse and featured Esther Rolle as Mama and Joseph C. Phillips (Martin Kendall again!) as George. It was also directed by Bill Duke, famous for directing films like Deep Cover and Hoodlum and getting killed onscreen in multiple Arnold Schwarzenegger films.
Raisin is unquestionably my favorite play of all time. I first came across the play script in my older brother’s 10th grade English textbook; I was about 8 or 9 at the time. Though I didn't fully understand some of the play's themes upon first read, I remember thinking that the dialogue and characterizations were so memorable and real, and they leapt off the page.
Later on I would watch the iconic 1961 version, the 2008 ABC adaptation, and the 2014 stage revival. Each one had its own strengths - 61's Walter Lee was portrayed with a quiet dignity and affecting charisma by Sidney Poitier, with Ruby Dee and Claudia McNeil as the strong women holding the Younger family together. In '08, Puffy was dryly mediocre as the lead but he did a great job assembling a dream cast (Sanaa Lathan in particular was spot on as Beneatha). Most recently I had the pleasure of watching the play live and really enjoyed the weariness and cynicism Denzel gave his version of Walter; a true acting clinic from all involved.
However, Glover was unique in that he gave his Walter an intense desperation...you can feel his longing for a better life and the concurrent disdain of those who already have it. The '89 version was also my first exposure to the play in film form, though I only saw it once in bits and pieces and can't remember it well. Thanks to the magic of YouTube however, it's a joy to see the passion and nuance in the actors' performances. And it's nice to be reminded how great an actor Danny can be outside of Lethal Weapon and comedies.
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