Native Son (1986 film)

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Native Son
Native Son 1986 poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jerrold Freeman
Produced by Diane Silver
Written by Richard Wesley
Based on Native Son
by Richard Wright
Starring Carroll Baker
Matt Dillon
Oprah Winfrey
Elizabeth McGovern
Geraldine Page
Music by James Mtume
Cinematography Thomas Burstyn
Edited by Aaron Stell
Distributed by Cinecom Pictures
Release date
  • December 12, 1986 (1986-12-12) (US)
Running time
111 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2,000,000
Box office $1,301,121[1]

Native Son is a 1986 American drama film, directed by Jerrold Freeman, and starring Carroll Baker, Victor Love, Matt Dillon, and Oprah Winfrey. The film is based on the 1940 novel Native Son, written by Richard Wright.


Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Bigger Thomas, an African American who lives in an impoverished neighborhood, is employed by a prosperous white family who live in the suburbs of a major city. The money Bigger makes at his new job will be used to supplement his mother's income. As a chauffeur, he is directed by the father of the family to take Mary, the daughter, to the university. Instead, Mary decides to pick up her Socialist boyfriend, Jan, and to spend the time drinking and partying.

Jan and Mary portray a young liberal couple who venture into a black neighborhood with Bigger for the sole purpose of being entertained at Ernie's, a black nightclub. On the way home, Mary becomes inebriated and Bigger must get her to her bedroom without being detected. Mary's mother, who is blind, enters the room and Bigger panics at the thought of being caught with a white woman. He accidentally kills Mary by placing a pillow over her head to keep her quiet. Still frightened, Bigger disposes of the body in the furnace, possibly because he feels he would not get a fair trial for the accidental death of a white woman. Meanwhile, Jan is wanted by the police for Mary's murder and Bigger plays a role in the accusations against him.



Rotten Tomatoes gave the film 56% on the tomatometer, with a rating of 6/10 based on 9 reviews.[2]


  1. ^ "Native Son (1986)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2013-06-02. 
  2. ^ "Native Son". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-06-02. 

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