Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Lilies of the Field

Ralph Nelson's Lilies of the Field from a distance looks like a film about race and religion, two very touchy subjects of the early 1960's. Once one watches it, they learn it's more about one's personal morals.

Sidney Poitier stars as Homer Nelson, a man who is an independent thinker. Poitier has a certain charm that's an advantage in creating Homer's personality. Homer is a friendly person when he's with the right people. With the wrong people, he tends to shut himself out from them.

A few of the elements in Lilies in the Field feel dated by many of today's standards, but they were definitely effective back in 1963. The topic of race is used lightly, religion just a little more. It's more so on the understanding between vastly different people, a common theme in the post-McCarthy era, and one that has been exhausted far too often.

That doesn't mean Lilies of the Field is bad. It's actually a very good film. Nelson makes sure that his film stays afloat throughout, and he succeeds for the most part. It's towards the final third that the film gets weak.

As stated, Lilies of the Field is good but not great. Poitier is very good though I would have given the Oscar that year to Paul Newman for Hud. Still, it's worth a look.

My Rating: ****1/2

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