|To Sleep with Anger|
|Directed by||Charles Burnett|
|Produced by||Thomas S. Byrnes|
Edward R. Pressman
|Written by||Charles Burnett|
|Music by||Stephen James Taylor|
|Edited by||Nancy Richardson|
|Distributed by||The Samuel Goldwyn Company|
In 2017, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". It had a remastered home media release from the Criterion Collection on February 26, 2019.
Harry (Danny Glover), an enigmatic old friend from the South, comes to visit Gideon (Paul Butler) and his wife Suzie (Mary Alice), who haven't seen him for many years, who are delighted to see him again, and who insist that he stay with them for as long as he would like. Gideon and Suzie live in South Central Los Angeles, though they retain some of their rural southern ways, including raising chickens in the backyard. Harry has a charming, down-home manner, but his presence brings to a crisis the simmering trouble that is already in the family—especially as regards the younger son, Samuel or "Babe Brother" (Richard Brooks), and his relation to his parents, wife, and older brother, Junior (Carl Lumbly).
His disruptive presence is dangerous (his influence threatens to break up Samuel's marriage and seems to be related to the illness that puts Gideon in bed in serious condition for a couple weeks), but ultimately purgative: Gideon's extended family is much more cohesive as a result of Harry's visit. Samuel and Junior struggle over a knife in a climactic fight during a storm, which ends in Suzie sustaining a knife wound. During a long wait in the emergency room, the storm clears, and, similarly, the simmering anger that Harry seemed to bring to a boil is also dissipated. Harry's death just before the end of the film suggests, ambiguously, that he has been to a degree a self-sacrificing savior of the family.
- Danny Glover as Harry
- Paul Butler as Gideon
- DeVaughn Nixon as Sunny
- Mary Alice as Suzie
- Reina King as Rhonda
- Cory Curtis as Skip
- Richard Brooks as Babe Brother
- Sheryl Lee Ralph as Linda
- Carl Lumbly as Junior
- Paula Bellamy as Mrs. Baker
- Vonetta McGee as Pat
- Wonderful Smith as Preacher
- Ethel Ayler as Hattie
- Beverly Mickins as Neighbor
- Jimmy Witherspoon as Percy
- Julius Harris as Herman
The film has received positive acclaim. As of May 2019, To Sleep with Anger holds a rating of 87% from 30 reviews with the consensus: "To Sleep with Anger examines cultural tensions with a deft hand and a potent blend of comedy and drama, stirred skillfully to life by a strong cast led by Danny Glover."
Chuck Bowen of Slant Magazine called it a "neglected masterpiece of African-American cinema." IndieWire's Brandon Wilson has called it Burnett's "other masterpiece," as well as numerous other favorable comparisons to Killer of Sheep, saying "Like all great art, To Sleep With Anger triumphs because it works both on a personal level... and it is provocative enough thematically to fuel hours of discussion about tradition versus modernity and how it has affected African-Americans, for better or worse... [Burnett]'s asking us to think about the generation gap, Christian faith versus backwoods mysticism, the grip of the past versus the pull of the present, African-American yearning for financial prosperity versus our sense of altruism & duty and complications within both sides of each coin."
Roger Ebert, however, called it "too long" in a mixed review (2.5/4). Christopher Null called it "insanely over-rated" and gave it 2/5 stars ("weak"). Entertainment Weekly's Owen Glieberman called it "too ambitious" and said it "never finds a mood".
The film won four Independent Spirit Awards, including Best Director and Best Screenplay for Charles Burnett, Best Male Lead for Danny Glover, and Best Supporting Female for Sheryl Lee Ralph. Burnett also won the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Screenplay and the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
- "2017 National Film Registry Is More Than a 'Field of Dreams'". Retrieved 13 December 2017.
- "To Sleep with Anger". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
- The Front Row: “To Sleep with Anger”|The New Yorker
- "To Sleep With Anger (1990)" – via www.rottentomatoes.com.
- "To Sleep with Anger | Film Review". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
- Wilson, Brandon; Wilson, Brandon (13 August 2014). "Charles Burnett's Other Masterpiece 'To Sleep With Anger'". IndieWire. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
- Ebert, Roger. "To Sleep With Anger Movie Review (1990) | Roger Ebert". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
- "To Sleep with Anger". Contactmusic.com. 1 November 2005. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
- "To Sleep With Anger". EW.com. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
- CHARLES BURNETT|Oscars.org|Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
- New Restoration of Charles Burnett's 'To Sleep with Anger'