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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Lilies Of The Field (1963)

An itinerant handyman (Sidney Poitier in his Oscar winning role) is passing through the Arizona desert when he comes across a group of East German nuns. The Mother Superior (Lilia Skala) sees him as a gift from God sent to help them build their chapel. He has other ideas. Based on the book by William Edmund Barrett and directed by Ralph Nelson (REQUIEM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT). This is a lovely film. Heartwarming in the best sense of the word. On paper, a movie about a black man helping a group of nuns build a church sounds hopelessly saccharine. But James Poe's screenplay never crosses over into sentimentality. For instance, Skala's mother superior is a martinet for who even saying "Thank you" seems an act of weakness while Poitier's handyman is no Uncle Remus but a kind hearted man who won't be disrespected. A discerning and thoughtful film. The exquisite B&W cinematography is by Ernest Haller (GONE WITH THE WIND) with a marvelous Jerry Goldsmith underscore. With Stanley Adams, Dan Frazer and Ralph Nelson himself as a building contractor.   

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