Cry, the Beloved Country (1951 film)

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Cry, the Beloved Country
U.S. theatrical release poster
Directed by Zoltán Korda
Produced by Zoltan Korda
Alan Paton
Written by Alan Paton (novel & screenplay)
John Howard Lawson (screenplay) originally uncredited
Music by Raymond Gallois-Montbrun
Cinematography Robert Krasker
Edited by David Eady
Distributed by British Lion Films (UK)
Lopert Pictures through United Artists (US)
Release dates
23 January 1952 (US)
25 April 1952 (UK)
Running time
103 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office £95,433 (UK)[1]

Cry, the Beloved Country is a 1951 British drama film directed by Zoltán Korda. Based on the novel of the same name by Alan Paton, it stars Canada Lee, Sidney Poitier, and Charles Carson. This film was Canada Lee's last film.


In the back country of South Africa, black minister Stephen Kumalo (Canada Lee) journeys to the city to search for his missing son, Absolom, only to find his people living in squalor and Absolom a criminal after committing murder. Kumalo's friend and fellow minister, Reverend Misimangu (Sidney Poitier), is a young South African clergyman who helps find Kumalo's sons and sister-turned-prostitute in the slums of Johannesburg. Both work together to confront the harsh reality of apartheid and what it is doing to both white and black South Africans.


Cast and characters are in order as listed by the British Film Institute.[2]


Zoltan Korda's acclaimed smash film was shot entirely in South Africa. Since the country was ruled by strict apartheid (enforced racial separation) laws, stars Sidney Poitier and Canada Lee and producer/director Korda cooked up a scheme where they told the South African immigration authorities that Poitier and Lee were not actors but were Korda's indentured servants; otherwise, the two black actors and the white director would have been arrested or detained before arrest followed by jail without trial. It marked the first time a major film was shot in the racially divided country, leading to serious exposing of life over there. After the making of this film, Canada Lee planned to make a full report about life in South Africa: he was then called to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee to explain his actions, but died of heart failure before he could testify.

Critical Response

The film was well received by critics, and currently hold a 100% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[3] Those praising the film included Bosley Crowther in the New York Times who stated It is difficult to do proper justice to the fine qualities of this film or to the courage and skill of Mr. Korda in transmitting such a difficult and sobering theme.[4]




  1. Vincent Porter, 'The Robert Clark Account', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol 20 No 4, 2000 p498
  2. "Cry, The Beloved Country". BFI Film & TV Database. British Film Institute. Retrieved 22 February 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "2nd Berlin International Film Festival: Prize Winners". Retrieved 22 December 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Festival de Cannes: Cry, the Beloved Country". Retrieved 17 January 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links