|Directed by||Martin Ritt|
|Produced by||Robert B. Radnitz|
|Written by||Lonne Elder III|
|Cinematography||John A. Alonzo|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox (original release)
Paramount Home Video (original home video release)
|Running time||105 minutes|
Sounder is a 1972 drama film starring Cicely Tyson, Paul Winfield, Kevin Hooks, Carmen Mathews, Taj Mahal, Eric Hooks and Janet MacLachlan. It was adapted by Lonne Elder III and directed by Martin Ritt from the 1970 Newbery Medal-winning novel Sounder by William H. Armstrong and spawned a sequel, Part 2, Sounder (1976).
Differences between the book and the film
- The film established names for the characters, which the book did not.
- The white people in the book are more truculent, cruel and racist than those in the film.
- In the book, the father is on the chain gang for multiple years, not just one year, as in the film; the boy begins spending his winters with the teacher long before his father's return.
- Both Sounder and his master's father are more grievously injured in the book than in the movie, and they both die within months of the father's return from the chain gang.
Realistic casting of minor parts
- A notable aspect of casting in the film is that the Minister is played by an actual minister and the Judge is played by an actual judge.
The film was very popular, earning $9 million in North American rentals in 1973.
Based on sixteen reviews, Sounder holds an 88% "Fresh" score (and an average of 7.7/10) on Rotten Tomatoes. In his Family Guide to Movies on Video, Henry Herx wrote: "[Sounder] captures the humanity of [its] characters and a fine, distanced sense of its sleepy Southern locale. The movie earns a deep emotional response from its audience because its [appealing] story and characters are believable. Not only a valid examination of the black experience in America, it is also a fine family experience." He added that the boy's search for his father "provides additional drama". Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film four stars out of four, stating that "...This is a film for the family to see."
In 2003, ABC's Wonderful World of Disney aired a new film adaptation, reuniting two actors from the original: Kevin Hooks (who played the son) directed and Paul Winfield (who played the father) played the role of the teacher.
When Sounder was released in theaters, the film was produced and distributed by Twentieth Century Fox. Years later, when the film was released on VHS, Paramount Home Video assumed distribution rights. Sterling Entertainment currently has DVD distribution rights. Walt Disney Home Video has released the 2003 made-for-television film on DVD.
- Miller, Gabriel (2000). "Notes". The Films of Martin Ritt: Fanfare for the Common Man. University Press of Mississippi. p. 231. ISBN 1-57806-277-2. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
- Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p257
- "Sounder, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved January 21, 2012.
- Roger Greenspun (1972-9-25). "Sounder (1972) Screen: 'Sounder' Opens: Story of a Negro Boy in Louisiana of 1930's". The New York Times.
- "Big Rental Films of 1973", Variety, 9 January 1974 p 19
- "Reviews for Sounder". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
- Herx, Henry (1988). "Sounder". The Family Guide to Movies on Video. The Crossroad Publishing Company. p. 251 (pre-release version). ISBN 0-8245-0816-5.