Sounder is an outstanding film. The superb production depicts the heart-warming and character-building struggles of a poor black sharecropper family in the Depression era. Martin Ritt’s masterful direction, an excellent adaptation [from William H. Armstrong’s novel], and a uniformly terrific cast make this a film which transcends space, race, age and time. Ritt’s sensitive, gentle and delicate style is mated well with script and cast.
Appearing in his first major theatrical role is Kevin Hooks, excellent as the eldest son who assumes the challenges of manhood when his father (Paul Winfield) is sentenced to a year at hard labor for stealing some food for his family.
Winfield is a smash in combining youth and mature virility into a figure of parental authority and parental love. His scenes with Hooks are magnificent, as are his interactions with Cicely Tyson as his wife.
1972: Nominations: Best Picture, Actor (Paul Winfield), Actress (Cicely Tyson), Adapted Screenplay.