Lilies of the Field Reviews
Is it possible for a film to be both evangelical and light-hearted? They seem like a contradictory adjectives, but somehow the delightful exuberance of Sidney Poitier make the film work. He has an easy charm that contrasts nicely with the nuns' severity. The film's themes, include faith and stewardship, aren't heavy-handed or explored in any depth, but they're there, and the film is as catchy as the gospel tune that Poitier repeatedly sings.
Overall, this isn't a canonical, except for the fact that Poitier became the first African-American to win Best Actor, but it's a fine time and entertaining couple of hours.
Now, let's get one thing perfectly clear before we start. THIS MOVIE IS AWESOME AND A MUST SEE FOR EVERYONE!!!! this film probably has the most heart and charm of any film I have ever seen.
And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. Matthew 6:28. King James Version.
Acting/characters: As I'm sure most, if not all of you know, Sidney Poitier became the first African American actor to win Best Actor at the Oscars. Now, I haven't seen any of the other contenders (except for Tom Jones and that movie was garbage) but from what I have seen, Poitier definitely deserved the award. Lilia Skala, who played the commanding Mother Superior did an excellent job as well and it was really fun to see their two head-strong personalities clash. But the real joy of this movie is watching Poitier interact with the other four nuns especially the scenes where he is teaching them English, particularly the first time. The performances were overall very very good and Poitier and Skala did excellent jobs as the lead characters. 10/10
Plot: it is one of the best, most heartwarming films I have ever seen. Once you get a good idea of what it is about, you generally know how it is going to end and where it is going to go. For a different kind of film, that can hurt it but not this one. I found myself laughing because I was so...touched by how the characters interacted with each other. even the moments where Homer Smith and Mother Maria are butting heads, I still get the feeling that they have a mutual respect for each other even if they don't know how to show it. The driving point of the plot is definitely character relationships and boy are they really well done here. It was a highly well done and very entertaining plot that kept my interest the entire time. 10/10
Screenplay: I got the feeling that this one took a backseat to the character aspect of the film but I think that it doesn't hurt the film at all. I think it was a perfectly fine screenplay and it was very well done. It was mostly in English but it also had bits and pieces of German in there too which I think worked very well as the four other nuns who weren't Mother Maria only spoke German. Them turning to Mother Maria eagerly waiting for her to translate the last thing Homer smith said to them was just awesome and it just made them more...lovable. I think the writer did a fine job writing this film. Behind good characters and performances there is a great screenplay. 10/10
Likableness: I highly enjoyed this one and it is one of the best films I have seen in a long time. I am glad that I watched it. for those of you out there who haven't seen this film, GO SEE IT SOON!! You will enjoy it very much. I promise you. The performances are stellar, the story is highly enjoyable and positively heartwarming. I highly enjoyed it and I would have no reservations about seeing it again. Poitier definitely deserved his Oscar for this one. It is just an all around very good film. 10/10
Final Score: 40/40 100% (P)
Tomatometer rating: 100%
Tomatometer rating if my review was added: 100%
TRIVIA TIME: 1. Since the story's action was tied to the chapel's construction, crew had to work through the night to keep up with it "progress" in the film. The actual building was real and could have stood for decades, but because it was built on rented property, it had to be demolished immediately after the filming was completed.
2. Actor Sidney Poitier gave up his usual salary and agreed to do the film for a smaller amount and a percentage of the profits. He won the Best Actor Oscar for his efforts.
3. Director Ralph Nelson had to put up his house as collateral.
Mother Maria: [the morning after a fiesta] Well, you are awake?
Homer Smith: Yeah, I guess so.
Mother Maria: Good.
[throws a cup of cold water in his face]
Homer Smith: Why'd you go and do that?
Mother Maria: The women last night, they say that is the only thing when a man has been mixing wine with tequila!
Homer Smith: I'm gonna mix you with tequila!
Poitier drifts into a cache of East German nuns who scampered over the Berlin Wall to lay claim to their inherited scrap of Arizona scrub-brush and to build a church there.
Mother Superior (Skala) insists Poitier is sent by God to help them build it and to take no payment for his work just as the lilies of the field that bloom merely to honor God (Matthew 6:28). And perhaps he HAS been sent by God, since Skala's domineering cleverness captures Poitier's better spirit and inspires him to snatch up a shovel.
Very good B&W cinematography makes for the appetizer toward the main course, the interactions between Poitier and Skala. Poitier delivers well, enigmatic at first, for his taking on of the task; by fin Poitier's left the viewer with the subtle impression that it is he - as much as anyone else - who has been changed for the better through his own charity.
Grade-A sanitary family viewing.
RECOMMENDATION: A milestone accomplishment in the history of people of color in cinema. A bit saccharine, but still well spent viewing.
A lot can be said for black n white movies
I had a hard time understanding what character flaw in Homer Smith made it so easy to bulldoze him and strongarm him into doing her personal bidding then endure her giving ALL the credit to God. I related better to the owner of the little cafe (Stanley Adams) who said, "God's not going to come in and work my counter so I can go to church. I have to put the money in my wallet."
In the end, I understand that the comparison they were making (IMHO) was to Jesus Christ. His life, his existance was based almost entirely on service to his fellow man and the lesson was for this hungry baptist, Homer Smith, to learn what Jesus had to teach. It's about serving your family - your HUMAN family. The family of man. A tall order for a motion picture but it DID win an oscar for Poitier AND Lilia Skala (Mother Marie) so maybe they are far more adept than I give them credit for.
Sidney Poitier IS wonderful in this but I like him better in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner or To Sir With Love or They Call Me Mr. Tibbs. I kind of resented the religious bullying that took place in this movie so I didn't really like it all that much. I gave it three stars for Sidney's performance alone ~
Watch and see! It is about a dude who is changed for the better by a group of nuns!
I don't know how many times I remember saying this to Crystal!
"Please send the valet up to my room."