Remembering Cicely Tyson’s Performance in “Sounder”

An indelible role in the 1972 movie of hardship and the human-canine bond
By Jonathan Wood, January 2021, Updated June 2021
Cicely Tyson in Sounder

Cicely Tyson and Eric Hooks in SOUNDER, 1972

The magnificent actress Cicely Tyson shall be remembered for many outstanding roles—The Diary of Miss Jane Pittman, her performance in Roots, as well as dramatic turns on Broadway, in particular for her Tony-winning master class in The Trip to Bountiful. One of our favorites remains her portrayal of Rebecca, the tower-of-strength mother in the film Sounder. The movie is based on the Newberry-award winning novel for young readers by William H. Armstrong. Both the book and the movie present an honest portrait of the rural south—the story follows the oldest son of a loving and strong family of black sharecroppers coming of age in the Depression-era South after his father is imprisoned for stealing food. Sounder is the family’s beloved dog, who helps them hunt, thus enabling them to keep food on the table. Sounder is a constant companion to the film’s principal characters and a comforting presence that gives his family strength in the face of inhumanity. Do yourself a favor and watch Sounder and marvel at Ms. Tyson’s performance.

Streaming online at Amazon Prime.

For other worthy canine-themed films, see our list of favorite dog movies.