Lilies of the Field Reviews

Page 1 of 13
Super Reviewer
May 21, 2014
A laborer accepts a group of nuns' requests to build a church.
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.
Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
½ February 13, 2010
Sidney Poitier won an Oscar for his role in this story of the unusual collaboration between a group of german nuns and a traveling construction worker. He plays the unusually named character "Homer Smith" (or as the mother superior called him, 'SCHMIDT!!'), a who's man driving across the south-western United States looking for work when he stumbles upon a small farm that turns out to be a rural convent. When Mother Maria (Lilia Skala) gets ahold of "Schmidt", she convinces him to repair the roof, and leads him to believe he will be paid for his service. She also tells him he has been sent by God to help them, so Schmidt should know what he's gotten himself in for. After a few days of general helping out, Mother Maria lets Schmidt know the real reason she wants him there: she wants him to build a church for them. Homer at first refuses, but soon caves in as he feels something for the women, and a white man's suggestion that he's too inferior to do such a thing lights a fire in him. He takes a job driving a bulldozer in order to make money for food (their spartan, 'one egg an a glass of milk' catholic breakfasts aren't enough to feed a man doing all this work), and soon, with the help of the community, is building the church just as Mother Maria believed he would all along. This film is quite unusual for it's time, in that a black man is playing a role that could've just as easily gone to a white man (apart from a brief scene involving racism, which could've been easily re-written), and race doesn't really play a part in this movie. In fact, this film probably focuses less on race than many of the modern films of today would, given the same subject matter. The nuns, other than Mother Maria, are virtually indistinguishable, (perhaps because they only speak in german) and are underdeveloped as characters. Mother Maria herself is quite a character though, she refuses to give any thanks or credit to Homer for all the work he does (and the fact that she's he one in need and doesn't have a cent to pay him with, makes her arrogance all the more inconsiderate). The fact that the character is being played by a black actor gives the whole relationship an uncomfortable aspect. Poitier does give it his charming all, and a few scenes are especially memorable, such as when Homer teaches english to the nuns. Overall however, this film is incredibly lightweight and in constant danger of running out of developments interesting enough to keep it going. A pleasant diversion, none-the-less.
Super Reviewer
½ November 26, 2013
Poitier does his usual thing..this time giving a grand performance with a bunch of nuns. While the move is good, it does border on poor sentimentality. For this reason alone, I deduct a half star.
Lord Naseby
Super Reviewer
September 25, 2011
Wisenheimer's winning film.

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.
Super Reviewer
½ December 5, 2009
What an endearing movie! A classic movie with great actor Sidney Poitier in this story of hope and faith. Great movie to watch especially around Christmas. :)
Super Reviewer
August 31, 2009
Excellent film with Sidney Poitier in an Oscar winning performance as Homer Smith, an ex-GI now traveling contractor. Homer is making his way through a small town in Arizona when his car overheats. He pulls into a place and encounters a group of East German Catholic nuns led by the strict Mother Superior Maria (Lilia Skala). All Homer wants is some water for his radiator but he ends up staying at the request of Mother Maria to help out around the place. And when Mother Maria asks him to build a chapel cause she thinks God has sent him for that task, Homer reluctantly agrees. Lilies of the Field is a wonderful film mixing drama with some humor and a great performance by Mr. Poitier. I used to think Sidney's best acting work was in Guess Who's Coming To Dinner. I stand corrected, Lilies is by far his best work and he deservedly was named Best Actor for 1963. He makes Homer such an engaging character that most people can identify with. And all the actresses portraying the nuns give worthy performances also. Lilies is a small but immensely enjoyable film. One of the best scenes in the film is when Homer teaches the nuns how to sing an old time church hymn called Amen. It's heavenly, rousing, and funny all at once. A great music score by Jerry Goldsmith is a plus also. Add this Poitier's list of films that he made in the 1960's and you have one of the best stretches of film acting ever delivered. His other films during this period include A Raisin in the Sun (1961); The Bedford Incident (1965); To Sir, With Love (1967); Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967); and In The Heat Of The Night (1967). All equally impressive films during a six year span. And Lilies is right up there with them.
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!
[walks away]
Homer Smith: I'm gonna mix you with tequila!
February 13, 2014
A charming Oscar-winning performance by Sidney Poitier and an equally strong performance by Lilia Skala as Mother Superior tales the small tale about a traveling handyman who helps a group of nuns build a church. It's one of those stories where two people from different worlds collide, yet in the end are changed for the better by the other. It's one of those feel-good films that actually makes you feel good.

Grade: A-
May 22, 2010
A gentle story and character study for which Poitier snagged the 1964 Best Actor Oscar, the first black male to do so. And it would be nearly 40 years before another black male - Denzel Washington, for "Training Day" - followed in his footsteps.

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.
February 15, 2008
Sidney Poitier did an outstanding job in this film.

A lot can be said for black n white movies
½ March 10, 2009
This movie is stuck in my brain for life, I remember from many Easter's past, and it has a special place in my heart. The music is bright, the acting good, Sydney Portier makes the perfect Homer Smith. The nuns are a lot of fun too along with other great characters as they hope to see there chapel built.
March 8, 2009
Talk about dated... I caught this on TCM on a Sunday afternoon. What a surprise Mother Marie was such an ungrateful b*tch - NOT! Oh my, me thinks my catholic roots may be showing. Best get those covered straight away!

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 ~
December 18, 2008
i watched this film with a very good friend of mine a little over a year ago before she moved away... will never forget her or this movie
September 16, 2008
This is a simple, uncomplicated story of a man who encounters a group of nuns in the middle of nowhere and becomes attached.
February 15, 2008
I heard once that this movie was completed in about 8 days. Simplicity at its best! A truly "feel good" movie that lightens the heart and makes everything seem right with the world.
January 6, 2008
Really good movie with the always great Sidney Poitier! A story of dreams, prayers, love and faith-very cool!
August 8, 2007
This movie is so good the begining to the end. Sidney dealing with the nuns and how he just gets swept up in building the Chapel for the Sisters is amazing. His singing and then of course the nuns. I can watch it anytime and love it.
July 11, 2007
This movie is so much fun:
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."
(awesome fun!)
½ April 13, 2007
My favorite scene involves eggs. You know what I mean if you've seen it. I'm not even Christian and I adore this movie.
March 12, 2007
Sidney Poitier is so handsome! I love how the sisters call him Schmidt instead of Smith. My favorite scene is when he teaches them the song "Amen". Too cute!
Page 1 of 13