Saturday, August 22, 2015

Lilies of the Field starring Sidney Poitier, the First Black Man to Win the Best Acting Oscar

Paul Newman was spectacular in Hud but while his costars Patricia Neal and Melvyn Douglas took home Academy Awards (neither one actually attended the ceremony), Newman himself, lost out to Sidney Poitier in 1963's Lilies of the Field. Poitier won for playing Homer Smith, a traveling handyman enlisted by a group of German nuns in Arizona to help rebuild their convent when they come to believe he has been sent to them by God. It was the first time a black man won a Best Acting Oscar; it would take another 38 years for the feat to be repeated when Denzel Washington won for Training Day in 2001. It's hard to believe that Poitier wasn't even nominated for his work in To Sir with Love, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and In the Heat of the Night, all of which came out in 1967. Three classic films and not one nomination? That my friends is indicative of the sad state of the ongoing civil rights struggle in our country.

Lilies of the Field was nominated for 5 Oscars: in addition to Sidney Poitier's Best Actor win—he also won the Silver Bear for best actor at the Berlin Film Festival that year—the film got noms for Best Picture, Cinematography, and for Lilia Skala's portrayal of Mother Maria, one of the few feature film roles this mainly television actress played.



The screenplay adaptation by James Poe for the script based on William E. Barrett's novel was also nominated. 



Poe was the writer who penned the Oscar nominated adaptations of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, They Shoot Horses Don't They and Around the World in 80 Days



just love rediscovering these classic films. They're rarely available to stream on Netflix but if you don't mind spending a couple of bucks you can find them on Amazon, iTunes, YouTube and GooglePlay. That's the case with Lilies of the Field, my recommendation for today's Saturday Matinee.

Here's the trailer 



Have you seen Lilies of the Field? Have you seen it lately?

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