Cry, the Beloved Country (1951): Korda’s British Made Drama about Apartheid, Starring Canada Lee and Sidney Poitier

British director (Hungarian born) Zoltán Korda made Cry, the Beloved Country a drama based on Alan Paton’s novel of the same name,

It stars Sidney Poitier, Charles Carson, and Canada Lee in his final role.

The film was a rarity for its time, due to the fact that all the main characters are black, and the white roles are secondary and played by supporting actors.

However, the film posters illustrated only the white supporting actors.

Cry, the Beloved Country

U.S. theatrical release poster

Black minister Stephen Kumalo (Canada Lee) journeys from the back country of South Africa to Johannesburg to help his sister, who is seemingly ill, and to search for his son, who has left home with no trace.

He is also asked to visit the daughter of someone who has not heard from her for some time.

With the help of the fellow minister Reverend Msimangu (Sidney Poitier), he discovers that his sister, who has a young son, failed to find her missing husband and has been in prison and is a prostitute.

He then finds out that his son has got a young girl pregnant and is a thief and murderer, living in a poverty stricken urban community.

The ministers confront the harsh reality of apartheid and its effects on both white and black inhabitants.

Canada Lee as Stephen Kumalo
Sidney Poitier as Reverend Msimangu
Charles Carson as James Jarvis
Joyce Carey as Mrs. Jarvis
Geoffrey Keen as Father Vincent
Michael Goodliffe as Martens
Edric Connor as John Kumalo
Lionel Ngakane as Absolom
Vivien Clinton as Mary
Albertina Temba as Mrs. Kumalo
Charles McRae as Kumalo’s friend
Ribbon Dhlamini as Gertrude Kumalo

Directed by Zoltán Korda
Produced by Zoltan Korda and Alan Paton
Written by Alan Paton (novel & screenplay) and John Howard Lawson (screenplay) originally uncredited
Music by Raymond Gallois-Montbrun
Cinematography Robert Krasker
Edited by David Eady

Production company: London Films

Distributed by British Lion Films (UK); United Artists (US)

Release date: January 23, 1952 (US); April 25, 1952 (UK)

Running time: 103 minutes