Cry, the Beloved Country
U.S. theatrical release poster
Directed byZoltán Korda
Written byAlan Paton (novel & screenplay)
John Howard Lawson (screenplay) originally uncredited
Produced byZoltan Korda
Alan Paton
CinematographyRobert Krasker
Edited byDavid Eady
Music byRaymond Gallois-Montbrun
Distributed byBritish Lion Films (UK)
Lopert Films (US)[1]
Release dates
23 January 1952 (US)
25 April 1952 (UK)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office£95,433 (UK)[2]

Cry, the Beloved Country is a 1951 British drama film directed by Zoltán Korda and starring Sidney Poitier, Charles Carson and Canada Lee, in his last film role. The film is based on the novel of the same name written by Alan Paton.


From the back country of South Africa, black minister Stephen Kumalo journeys to Johannesburg to help his sister, who has been reported to be ill, and to search for his son, who left home and has not kept in contact. He is also asked to visit the daughter of someone who has not heard from her for some time. With the help of fellow minister Reverend Msimangu, Kumalo discovers that his sister, a prostitute with a young son, left home to find her husband but failed to find him and has been incarcerated in prison. He discovers that his son has impregnated a young girl and is a thief and murderer. Both live in a poverty-stricken urban community. The ministers confront the harsh reality of apartheid and its inimical effects on the country.



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Cry, the Beloved Country was the first major film shot in South Africa, with interiors filmed in the UK at Shepperton Studios.[3] As South Africa was under apartheid, stars Sidney Poitier and Canada Lee and producer/director Zoltan Korda informed the South African immigration authorities that Poitier and Lee were not actors but were Korda's indentured servants. After his work on the film, Lee planned to prepare a full report about life in South Africa. He was called to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee to explain his actions but died of heart failure before he could testify.


The film had its premiere on 23 January 1952 at the Bijou Theatre in New York City.[4]


The film holds an 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[5] Those praising the film included Bosley Crowther in The New York Times, who stated: "It is difficult to do proper justice to the fine qualities of this film or to the courage and skill of Mr. Korda in transmitting such a difficult and sobering theme."[1]




  1. ^ a b Crowther, Bosley (24 January 1952). "Alan Paton's 'Cry, the Beloved Country,' With Canada Lee, Opens at Bijou Theatre". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 May 2022.
  2. ^ Vincent Porter, 'The Robert Clark Account', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol 20 No 4, 2000 p498
  3. ^ Bloom, Harold, ed. (2010). Alan Paton's Cry the Beloved Country. New York, NY: Bloom's Literary Criticism/Infobase. p. 157.
  4. ^ "'Country' Due For U.S. Jan. 23 Among Flock Of New Picture Imports". Variety. 12 December 1951. p. 7. Retrieved 26 February 2024 – via Internet Archive.
  5. ^ "Cry, the Beloved Country". Rotten Tomatoes.
  6. ^ "2nd Berlin International Film Festival: Prize Winners". Retrieved 22 December 2009.
  7. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Cry, the Beloved Country". Retrieved 17 January 2009.