|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.
Gideon (Paul Butler) and his wife, Suzie (Mary Alice), live in South Central Los Angeles, though they retain some of their rural southern ways, including raising chickens in the backyard. Harry (Danny Glover), a longstanding friend from the South who they have not seen for many years, makes a surprise visit. The couple are delighted to see him and insist that he stay with them for as long as he wishes. Harry has a charming, down-home manner, but his enigmatic and somewhat amoral presence brings to a crisis trouble simmering in the family—especially as regards the younger son, Samuel or "Babe Brother" (Richard Brooks), and his relationships with his parents, wife, and older brother, Junior (Carl Lumbly).
Harry's disruptive and even corrupting presence threatens to break up Samuel's marriage and seems to be related to the illness that puts Gideon in bed for a couple of weeks, but is ultimately purgative: Gideon's extended family is 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 wound. During a long wait in the emergency room, the storm clears, and 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 August 2020, To Sleep with Anger holds a rating of 88% from 32 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: 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 (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'