Lilies of the Field

( 4 )

Overview

Sidney Poitier plays Homer Smith, an aimless ex-GI who takes a temporary handyman job at a Southwestern farm maintained by five German nuns. It is the cherished dream of the Mother Superior Lilia Skala to build a chapel or, as she says, a "shapel". She is convinced that the personable Homer has been sent from Above to help her realize her dream. He protests loudly and rudely, but she will not be dissuaded. How Homer accomplishes her goal, endears himself to the surrounding townsfolk, and avoids an arrest for a ...
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Overview

Sidney Poitier plays Homer Smith, an aimless ex-GI who takes a temporary handyman job at a Southwestern farm maintained by five German nuns. It is the cherished dream of the Mother Superior Lilia Skala to build a chapel or, as she says, a "shapel". She is convinced that the personable Homer has been sent from Above to help her realize her dream. He protests loudly and rudely, but she will not be dissuaded. How Homer accomplishes her goal, endears himself to the surrounding townsfolk, and avoids an arrest for a previous crime, comprises the heart of Lilies of the Field. The film, adapted by James Poe from a novel by William E. Barrett, was later remade for television, and it won Poitier an Academy Award for Best Actor, the first time that award was given to an African-American.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Richard Gilliam
Lilies of the Field was more important historically than it may seem when viewed today. What works about the film is the interplay between Sidney Poitier and Lilia Skala, and the recurrent theme of faith that evolves from their friendship. While it may have been cutting-edge in 1964 for the Academy to give its Best Actor Oscar to an African-American actor (the only time in the 20th century that this award was given to an African-American), the story is only superficially about racial issues. This is the sort of safe depiction of a black protagonist that was considered palatable for white audiences in the 1960s. Not until black directors went behind the camera later in the decade would more challenging films (and less safe roles for black performers) evolve. The film has considerable dramatic power, like The Sound of Music without music. The primary themes are the importance of religious life, and the transformation of those who accept it. Formulaic storytelling notwithstanding, Poitier's performance is outstanding, and the film has a charm that overcomes its several weaknesses.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/13/1997
  • UPC: 027616618238
  • Original Release: 1963
  • Rating:

  • Source: Mgm (Video & Dvd)
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Sidney Poitier Homer Smith
Lilia Skala Mother Maria
Lisa Mann Sister Gertrude
Stanley Adams Juan
Isa Crino Sister Agnes
Dan Frazer Father Murphy
Francesca Jarvis Sister Albertine
Pamela Branch Sister Elizabeth
Ralph Nelson Ashton, the Contractor
Technical Credits
Ralph Nelson Director, Producer
Jerry Goldsmith Score Composer
Ernest Haller Cinematographer
John McCafferty Editor
James Poe Screenwriter
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

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1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Can't Get Enough. Amen!

    This is a classic old film that everyone who enjoys movies should see. The plot is a moving masterpiece of love, spirit, and morality. Sidney Poiter makes the entire movie. He is so wonderful in this part it is like it was written for him. It is difficult to imagine another person playing this role with such grace and purpose. The main song in the movie is played over and over again throughout the film. With the majority of movies that kind of repition gets annoying. However, the song "Amen" is so graceful that you can't get enough of it. This movie is great! AMEN!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Sidney Poitier made his mark on this film!

    I can’t get enough of Mr. Poitier. It’ was great that he won Best Actor on this film playing Homer Smith, who is an out-of-work construction worker that helps a group of foreign (East European) Catholic nuns build their church and learn to speak English. Lilia Skala was great too. She earned her only Academy Award nomination (Supporting Actress) playing the head Mother Superior Maria. There are a lot of wonderful touching moments and funny interactions between these two main characters that will have you glued to the set. Sidney Poitier is masterful in this role and is greatly remembered for it. His subtle humor fills the plot, even becoming hilarious at times. In one scene Homer is teaching the German nuns English, and he cannot help himself from modeling for them some Southern black dialect: Instead of "I stand up," he grins as the sisters follow his "Ah stands up, y'all"! Homer is so likable because he is good-natured, but Poitier lends texture to his character mainly through his interaction with his foil, the Mother Superior who will not thank him for all of his labors. Watch for strong musical scenes from Poitier as well, in which he intermingles his own religious background with the nun's East Germany Catholicism. Lilia Skala is appropriately stern and commanding as Mother Maria. We know the sisters have come a long way, even over the Berlin Wall, to get to this inherited property in the American desert. The broken English spoken by her and her charges serves to endear the nuns to us. They are all humble but fiercely devoted people. As Juan, Stanley Adams does nice work. Although his accent and diction smack of falseness - this man seems to want to revert to a Bronx twang - Adams musters a rascally nonchalance that bonds him with Homer. Juan also functions as a template for the modern age: Catholic-born, this agnostic now serves meals in his restaurant while the traveling priest says mass for the people who have come from far and wide. Dan Frazer does well as Father Murphy, the priest whose prayers for a massive cathedral were answered with a trailer with bald tires. And director Ralph Nelson ( who made many films beside this one, notably "Requiem for a Heavyweight," "Father Goose" and "Charly) acquits himself well as Mr. Ashton, the slightly racist builder who employs Homer and who is the victim of Mother Maria's constant pleas for donations. If you are looking for a small but thought-provoking work, a film that covers tolerance and faith and friendship through its exploration of a most unlikely relationship, watch "Lilies of the Field."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews