The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman
1974 | Drama | 110 minutes | English
At the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, Jane Pittman, a 110-year-old former slave, is visited by a determined journalist urging her to recount her past life. Jane can remember her long days as a slave toiling in the cotton fields. Finally, the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 gave the slaves their freedom. Addressing all his slaves, Master Dysart, the plantation owner states, “Y’all can stay; Y’all can go; just as you please.” But freedom would not be easy for Jane Pittman. She was forced to work as a sharecropper on a plantation for 12 years. That too was a form of slavery. In 1962, Pittman became convinced the blacks must take action if they are to attain real freedom. She displays this with a simple but incredibly courageous act: she proceeds to drink water from an “Only Whites” fountain surrounded by outraged white onlookers.
Cicely Tyson (Jane Pittman) / Richard Dysart (Master Bryant) / Michael Murphy (Journalist interviewing Jane Pittman)
Why Stream This Film?
Through the eyes and memories of 110-year old Jane Pittman, a former slave, we witness the horrors black people endured even after the end of the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. The highlight is Jane Pittman, at age 110, joining the 1962 civil rights movement.
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 89%
- Metacritic Score: 77
Primetime Emmy Awards: Winner, Outstanding TV Special; Best Lead Actress in a Drama (Cicely Tyson); Best Screenwriting, Drama (Tracy Keenan Wynn); Best Directing, Drama (John Korty)
Directors Guild Awards: Winner, Outstanding Directorial Achievement (John Korty)
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The history of slavery was vividly relived through the memories of a fictional 110-year-old woman beautifully played by Cicely Tyson in a story adapted by Tracy Keenan Wynn and directed by John Korty.
MISS JANE PITTMAN fulfilled my deepest expectations. I did not look for a miracle nor did I view it with malice. That the show will spawn another film depicting other blacks in other experiences is unquestioned. That it was a triumph of and for the enduring strength of black people is also beyond doubt.
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