Lilies of the Field

1963

Lilies of the Field

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

90%

TOMATOMETER

Reviews Counted: 21

85%
liked it

Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,118

TOMATOMETER

N/A
All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0

AUDIENCE SCORE

85%
Average Rating: 4/5

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Movie Info

In this film, a traveling laborer meets five nuns in the Arizona desert. The appearance of Homer Smith convinces the Mother Superior he is an answer to her prayers. He wins the hearts of the nuns and the thanks of the town, as initial reluctance turns into public acceptance.

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Cast

Sidney Poitier
as Homer Smith
Lilia Skala
as Mother Maria
Lisa Mann
as Sister Gertrude
Isa Crino
as Sister Agnes
Francesca Jarvis
as Sister Albertine
Pamela Branch
as Sister Elizabeth
Dan Frazer
as Priest
Ralph Nelson
as Mr. Ashton
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News & Interviews for Lilies of the Field

Critic Reviews for Lilies of the Field

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (4)

  • Lilies of the Field is a funny, sentimental, charming and uplifting film, in which intelligence, imagination and energy are proved again to be beyond the price of any super-budget.

    Oct 1, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Well-meaning rot.

    Jan 8, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Many factors combine in the overall success of the film, notably the restrained direction by Ralph Nelson, a thoroughly competent screenplay by James Poe, and, of course, Poitier's own standout performance.

    Mar 26, 2009 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • It might be significant as an early independent movie made good, but Poitier got better when he got angrier for In the Heat of the Night four years later.

    Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…
  • One of the most gentle and affecting stories about faith and generosity ever committed to film.

    Dec 28, 2018 | Rating: 9/10 | Full Review…
  • This was a small, low-budget picture that went straight for the heart and succeeded critically as well as financially.

    Jan 8, 2018 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Lilies of the Field

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.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

½

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.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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.

Lord Naseby
Lord Naseby

Super Reviewer

½

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.

Devon Bott
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

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