Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Films to see

Is it that I am necessarily a big fan of old movies? No. It is more a that I am not a fan of new movies. There are some old films that I love. There are some old films that I find interesting. Thinking that you may love or find them interesting as well, I want to bring some films to your attention so that you may catch them some time and hopefully enjoy them as much as I do.

This is the first.

If you were to ask me what I kind of film I enjoy, It would answer this way: I enjoy films where people find themselves in situations that may not be of their own choosing; they meet the challenge head on and come out better on the other side.

If you were to ask me my favorite film of all time, I would probably answer the film with Sidney Poitier's Oscar winning performance in 1963: Lilies of the Field.

Mother Maria (Lilia Skala) and Homer Smith (Sidney Poitier)
This is a film about people. Good people. They just may not know it yet.

Poitier play Homer Smith, an itinerant handyman traveling around the country. Needing water for his car, he finds his way to property inhabited by a group of nuns. He gets water from their well. Mother Maria (Lilia Skala) says to herself, "God has sent me a big strong man."

Poitier replies, "He didn't say anything to me about sending me anyplace."

Smith agrees to fix the roof of the nun's house. At that point, Homer and Mother Maria become inexorably tied to one another. Two strong willed people, both with unfulfilled dreams. The two are at loggerheads with one another, each not willing to admit that the other is probably one of the most positively life-changing people they would ever meet.

Other important characters in the film:
Juan Accolito (Stanley Adams), the agnostic owner of the diner/gas station whose parking lot plays host to the traveling road show Mass. Adams was a great enough actor to overcome his playing an Hispanic with an accent while making you think he came from Brooklyn -- I can't imagine anyone else playing the part.
Juan Accolito (Stanley Adams), Father Murphy (Dan Frazer), Mother Maria (Lilia Skala), and Homer Smith (Sidney Poitier)
Father Murphy (Dan Frazer), the priest whose dream was to be sent to a grand cathedral in a rich diocese.
Father Murphy (Dan Frazer) and his traveling road show
Mr. Ashton (director Ralph Nelson), the arrogant local contractor and big man about town who is constantly pestered for donations by Mother Maria.

By the end of the film all of them learn compassion, humility, and to be grateful for the good people they meet.

Homer learns that his power was not to build something by himself, but to bring people together.

Mother Maria learns that the power of God comes from people -- not from divine intervention.

Juan learns that there is more to life than life itself.

Father Murphy learns that he was truly blessed to be where he is.

Mr. Aston learns to appreciate people for their character, not by skin color (where have we heard that before?) -- To Ashton, Homer goes from "Boy" to "Mr. Smith."

I remember the times in which this film was made. The bad news is that young people today may not fully appreciate the situations of the people in the film. The good news is that young people today may not fully appreciate the situations of the people in the film. Someone twenty-five years old today would have been born after the fall of the Berlin Wall, over which the nuns escaped. The so called racism of today pales in comparison to what Homer Smith would have faced. As he observed at one point, "Gringo? I don't know if that is a step up or a step down from some other things I've been called."

I could watch this film anytime. It is a guaranteed mood-lifter.


  1. Lovely post Matt. I know you love that film.

    And I love Sidney...

  2. I love Sidney too. I haven't seen this film in decades; it may be time to watch it again. I wonder if it's on Netflix or Amazon?

    Thanks for the post Matt. You and Fay bring culture and sophistication to our blog; it balances my contribution of redneck overalls, chicken coops, and political foot-stamping. :)

  3. Very nice post, Matt.

    I've probably seen this film 3 times but it's been awhile so I'll add it to my watch list. When I think of it, I think of Poitier's character singing "Amen" with the nuns :-)

    I am a movie buff. One of the many nice things about being retired (and a night owl) is that I can watch a movie nearly every night. Lately I've been watching classic war movies, dramas and older Disney films. But I enjoy all genres. When news and politics start to overwhelm, it's wonderful to watch a film like "Lilies of the Field" to renew our faith in mankind...and just to feel good.

  4. Matt, thank you - what a fabulous post!

    I would like to say I will watch this because you gave it such a fabulous review.

    That's bs, though. I can tell already that it is way too uplifting and I can stand "uplifting".

    Instead I will watch it for the glimpse into the world of 1963, which is the year I was born. Seems relevant, and you've given me ample reason to understand how and why.

    Gringo? I don't know if that is a step up or a step down from some other things I've been called.

    Oh there's a whole branch of the Academy dedicated to that shit. You're covered, Sid. 😎

    1. Don't like uplifting, lewy? Try Under the Skin. I think it's one you will enjoy.

  5. So I was watching a movie on my list tonight and the opening scene was so horrifying that I shut it off. I decided that this was a good time to watch Lilies of the Field and just finished it. Then I had to come back and read your review, Matt. I think you absolutely nailed it and I probably wouldn't have thought to add it to my watch list if not for your post. There was so much to the movie that I had forgotten. Anyway, I can now retire for the evening in a much better frame of mind...

    1. Thank you Florie. Lilies Of The Field is certainly good for what ails you.

      What was that other film you were watching? I have a wild guess. It would be something if I was right.

  6. Ah. Not what I thought. I don't know that one.

    Once I get back to work I will have a better idea of newer films because I work right next to the TV section and they show trailers all day long.

  7. "I work right next to the TV section and they show trailers all day long."

    Oh gosh, well at least you get a good idea of what films you'd like to see.

    On another note, my deep condolences to the victims and their family members of tonight's terrorist attack in Manchester.

    1. 1. Yes, that is how I found out about The Book Thief.

      2. Definitely. The question is how long will it be before officials start to sugarcoat the affair.