"A Raisin in the Sun" is a play written by Lorraine Hansberry that was adapted into a feature film starring Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee in 1961. Both versions tell the story of the Youngers, an impoverished African-American family who must decide what to do with a $10,000 life insurance policy left by the patriarch of the family. The film version is faithful to the original play, although some differences exist between the two.
Due to the limitations of a live staged performance, the events of the play all take place in a single setting -- the kitchen and living room of the Younger apartment. However, the film allows the audience to get a view of the entire apartment, with some scenes taking place in the bedrooms. In addition, some scenes are at other locations, such as a local bar and the neighborhood where the Youngers planned to move.
Some characters and scenes did not make the transition from the play to the movie version of "A Raisin in the Sun." A scene where Travis chases rats in an alleyway with his friends is omitted from the film version. A comedic relief character from the play, Ms. Johnson, does not appear in the film version and all scenes featuring her were deleted. In addition, some lines of dialogue were cut or slightly altered for the movie.
A new character was added to the film version that was not featured in the original stage version. Actor Roy Glenn plays Willie Harris, a friend of Walter Younger, who convinces Walter to invest in a liquor store and then disappears with the money. Although this plot point is the same for both the stage and film versions, the character of Willie Harris is never actually seen in the play.
Scenes were added to the film that were not in the original play to expand the character of Walter and to give the audience a better idea of his life and overall motivations. For example, a scene from the film shows Water working as a chauffeur to emphasize his desire to improve his life. Another added scene showed Walter drinking at the bar to give the audience a better idea of his social life away from home.
- "A Raisin in the Sun"; Lorraine Hansberry; 1959
- Grade Saver: "A Raisin in the Sun" Background