Anna Lucasta (1959)

 “The only ones who eat without working are politicians.”

Joe, (Rex Ingram) the head of the Lucasta family receives a letter from his childhood friend in Alabama saying that he’s sending his son Rudolph Slocum (Henry Scott) out to California with his inheritance of $4,000. The letter writer asks Joe and his family to find Rudolph a good wife. The extended Lucasta family–who all live under the same roof–immediately begin calculating the ways they can spend the $4,000. Mrs. Lucasta–the sweet family matriarch–decides it’s time to bring home daughter Anna–the Black Sheep of the Lucasta family to marry Slocum. Anna (Eartha Kitt) is living as a homeless prostitute in San Diego, and she’s struggling to survive after being thrown out of the house by her revolting father.

Domineering son Frank (the one with the biggest plans for Slocum’s money) is insistent that Anna should return. His father, Joe, has deep-rooted resentments against Anna and resists her return.

The plot raises multiple issues: will Anna return home and go along with her family’s plan, and will she agree to marry Slocum? The Lucastas assume that Slocum is a country bumpkin, and to their surprise (and horror), it turns out that Slocum is a college professor.

Anna Lucasta from director Arnold Laven is a surprising film. Just as it seems to take a predictable turn, the plot develops an unexpected twist. At first, for example, the Lucasta family seems rather bucolic and idealistic–but then all the dirt and the family secrets become apparent. Eartha Kitt as Anna is phenomenal, and Sammy Davis Jr. who plays slick sailor, Danny Johnson, complements her delightful performance. Anna Lucasta boasts an all-black cast–with the exception of a tiny, minor role.  

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