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A Patch of Blue - some help please

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charliechaplinfan
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A Patch of Blue - some help please

Postby charliechaplinfan » September 9th, 2011, 10:56 am

Thanks to Nancy my afternoon's ironing was an entertaining task as I watched A Patch of Blue, I think the correct way to describe my ironing was being stood there with an iron in my hand glued to the screen, not much actual ironing got done until afterwards. I'm a sucker for a love story, especially a subtle one, which this most certainly is. What I need help with is the end of the movie, nothing was wrong with Nancy's timing he movie just clicked off. I got to the point where the school bus had pulled up and he had something to tell her but she interrupted and told him how nice and beautiful he was an the she knew he was a negro, he looked really touched and he asked her how she knew, then my screen went blank. Can somebody help me? Did she get on the bus? Did he find out about the beating at the hands of her mother? They do have a future don't they?

I got Robert Osbourne's lovely intro, which said that they got Sidney Poitier signed first and then set about the search and found Elizabeth Hartman, I thought she gave such a winning performance as Selina, it could have easily have turned mawkish but she was spot on. Shelley Winters was the reason I wanted to see this movie but I found her a bit overblown, her cruelty was vocal and loud for everyone to see, she got the Oscar, she's so good at blowsy types. Wallace Ford is grand as the old soak of a granddad.

Sidney Poitier, I really should watch more of his films, I've see The Heat of the Night and bits of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and I like him, he has a quiet, strong presence. Is he like this in all his films? Are all his movies in the 1960s about race, which was so important at the time or did he make any movies where race wasn't an issue? His role in A Patch of Blue was so steadfast, there was a lot of silence to his acting, his chance to study Selina and show his thoughts of his face because she can't see them but she can pick up on his emotions.

I've only watched part of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, I really don't know why I haven't seen it the whole way through yet, it's Hepburn and Tracy's final movie together, yet from what I've seen, it doesn't seem to have the subtlety of A Patch of Blue. This handles the race question so deftly and it might be unfair of me to compare the two movies.To someone watching the movie today the issue isn't his colour, it's her blindness and I hope it was partly so back in 1965. Yet the race question is there, he holds back and she thinks it's because of her, well it is because she doesn't know he's black. When she tells him of her friend Pearl, his reaction is so heart rending. The racism is also present in his brother, or rather the hurt of years of being second to the white man. His concern is more that she is trash, a class below, it's painful to know that men set themselves above and below other men for poverty or race.

So i'm hoping Selina got on the bus with her heart full of hope, knowing that Gordon loved her and that by educating her he was freeing her from her prison and opening her eyes, excuse the pun, to a new world.

I'd love to hear others views of the film, I found it one beautiful love story.
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Re: A Patch of Blue - some help please

Postby kingrat » September 9th, 2011, 12:10 pm

CCFan, there is some further discussion of this film elsewhere, perhaps in the "What Films Have You Seen Recently?" thread. ChiO, who is Stanley Kramer's biggest fan--NOT--drew the comparison between the carefully nuanced A PATCH OF BLUE and the less subtle GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER?

The ending of A PATCH OF BLUE leaves the relationship open. Elizabeth Hartman goes off to school, and Poitier tells her to wait a year and then they'll determine where they are.

If you haven't seen Poitier in THE DEFIANT ONES or SOMETHING OF VALUE, those show his further range. He is excellent in both. In THE DEFIANT ONES he's an escaped convict. SOMETHING OF VALUE deals with the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya. Poitier and Rock Hudson were boyhood friends, but as an adult Poitier is drawn into the Mau Mau, whereas Hudson, an Englishman, tries to protect his family and friends. This was not a hit in the US, where people weren't interested in the subject matter, but it's a good film. ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW is also quite good.

In 1967 Poitier was the No. 1 star, with three smash hits: GUESS WHO, IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, and TO SIR, WITH LOVE. Hollywood, which was collapsing, didn't know what to do with him, and he was rejected by the emerging black power movement because he had played so many upstanding, long-suffering roles. Seeing any of his films now, I find him a first-rate actor whose slightest look or gesture commands reserves of power.

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Re: A Patch of Blue - some help please

Postby Mr. Arkadin » September 9th, 2011, 12:21 pm

charliechaplinfan wrote:So i'm hoping Selina got on the bus with her heart full of hope, knowing that Gordon loved her and that by educating her he was freeing her from her prison and opening her eyes, excuse the pun, to a new world.


This is indeed what happens. Their future is left uncertain, but my impression is that he will never see her again.

charliechaplinfan wrote:Sidney Poitier, I really should watch more of his films, I've see The Heat of the Night and bits of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and I like him, he has a quiet, strong presence. Is he like this in all his films? Are all his movies in the 1960s about race, which was so important at the time or did he make any movies where race wasn't an issue?


There are a lot of great Poitier films, but because of the time period in which Sidney came to prominence he was expected (rather unfairly) to be the Jackie Robinson of the film world and break boundries--which he did, but as you've already discovered, this really limited the type of role he could play. However, you can say that because he played those parts he opened doors to African-Americans everywhere to play all types of roles.

Some good films that don't make race their main theme:

The Slender Thread (1965)
Duel at Diablo (1966)
The Bedford Incident (1965)
Brother John (1970)


Other great movies:

No Way Out (1950)
Edge of the City (1957)
Buck and the Preacher (1972)
A Raisin in the Sun (1961)
Paris Blues (1962)
Cry the Beloved Country (1951)
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Re: A Patch of Blue - some help please

Postby Mr. Arkadin » September 9th, 2011, 12:25 pm

kingrat wrote: ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW is also quite good.


That was Harry Belafonte.

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Re: A Patch of Blue - some help please

Postby moira finnie » September 9th, 2011, 1:28 pm

I am so glad that you had a chance to see A Patch of Blue. I hadn't seen it since it first came out until TCM ran it some time ago, and discovered how nuanced a film it was, which you described so well. Poitier, Hartman and Ford were wonderfully human, subtle and quite moving in each of their roles. I believed that Winters' acting was most unfortunate, playing each scene as though she was doing it for the delectation of the Academy, not the character, the story, or the audience.

Inevitably, I believe that almost all of Poitier's performances in the '60s have a racial element to them--even though the actor's grace and power enabled white audiences to identify immediately with him--I think that it was necessary for someone like him to change audience expectations, though that is still an ongoing struggle for actors of color, he made everyone who has come after him possible. Poitier took considerable heat from his own community and the larger critical culture in the U.S. for being better spoken, more thoughtful, and nearly saintly in his portrayals. I've always felt that he also showed the simmering anger, frustration and sadness generated by injustice almost too well for most people and he deserves to be rediscovered again and again. Still, if you would like to see him play--beautifully--a character who might be any race (but whose anima on-screen was deepened by his race, nevertheless), I'd recommend some of these films in addition to those already mentioned (I'd add The Blackboard Jungle to that list of dramas to see. Poitier is excellent, stealing scenes without lifting a finger in his scenes with Glenn Ford):

Go, Man, Go (1954): a low budget but grittily cheerful account of the Harlem Globetrotters. How often do you get to see James Wong Howe film and direct a movie, as he did here? Poitier is a heartbreakingly young and raw talent with a kind of sweetness in his spirit that was vivid here, (even if it may have later been packaged commercially in order to make him a star and to help other black performers get a toehold in Hollywood). You don't have to be a basketball fan or very knowledgeable about sports to enjoy this movie, which is more about struggling to get by doing something out of the ordinary.
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Sidney (on floor), surrounded by Dane Clark and some actual basketball players.

Virgin Island (1959) aka Our Virgin Island: John Cassavetes and Virginia Maskell are the stars in this heady romantic cocktail about a couple of newlyweds who decide to build a dream house on a patch of beach in the glorious British Virgin Islands. Sidney and a radiant Ruby Dee are their friends, who help them and bring them down to earth occasionally--though they too are infected with the spell that love casts on a lucky few. Lovely looking, full of the warmth of the setting and the youthful and gifted cast, this forgotten movie deserves to be rediscovered, even if in the big scheme of things it is not "an important picture."
Image

The Long Ships (1964): made with Poitier's longtime friend Richard Widmark under the direction of Jack Cardiff, Sidney plays a North African sultan coping with a clutch of unruly Vikings looking for a golden bell in his territory. Simple-minded, yes, but if you like adventure films it has its charms, (Oscar Homolka and Russ Tamblyn for two), including the improbably dignified Poitier's wig, which looks a bit like one of those synthetic ones sold in the back of women's magazines by one of the Gabor sisters. I have a lot of affection for this movie, since it is one of the first films I ever saw in a theater--without my parents, but with the elder siblings. (I really think my parents would have freaked if they knew we'd gone to see this).
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Re: A Patch of Blue - some help please

Postby charliechaplinfan » September 9th, 2011, 2:16 pm

Thank you for all your contributions.

Thanks Kingrat for helping me with his films, I've already added some to my list, I have seen In the Heat of the Night before and liked it, I found it a duel in more ways than one with Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger, I love films were two great actors take opposing parts and act their socks off. I'm looking forward to seeing him in more films.

Mr Arkadin said 'this is indeed what happens. Their future is left uncertain, but my impression is that he will never see her again.'

I think I'm the born optomist, despite not seeing the end I'd like to think they do, perhaps I take Selina's part as this is obviously how she wants to see it. Perhaps you see Gordon's view, he predicts life with her will be difficult for her. One thing that played on my mind whilst watching it was if it was a love because she had nothing good and kind in her life and Gordon was and if his love was ignited by her neediness and his compassionate nature. I'm not saying it wasn't a love between them but as he tells her, there are all kinds of love, I just hope their's was the romantic type that lasted.

I've read Cry Beloved Country but never watched it, I'll add this along with the others to my rental list.

Moira, I'm so glad I'm not the only one who thought Shelley Winters attacked the part with gusto, I like Shelley Winters a lot, it's just here I thought she was too over the top.

What you've all said about Sidney Poitier about his acting style and his screen presence is what I've instinctively felt from what I've seen. Looking at his film career he took a break, I've not read a biography about him, perhaps he suffered a backlash from the sixties films. I can see how the style of films and characters he portrayed helped the progression and self esteem of blacks.

My mum can have the final word, when I mentioned him to her she said he was lovely and she wasn't commenting on his acting style here.
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Re: A Patch of Blue - some help please

Postby Gary J. » September 9th, 2011, 3:23 pm

Although Poitier realized that as his star ascended he would be thrust into the 'Jackie Robinson' role, he looked at the situation with a more clinical eye. He never wanted to be known as one of the great Black actors of his generation. He wanted to known as one of the great actors who happened to be Black. So he took his share of overtly race roles (which became some of his greatest movies - DEFIANT ONES, LILLIES, HEAT OF THE NIGHT......etc) but in between he was always looking to appear in mainstream Hollywood fare that would treat him as just a regular mainstream Hollywood Superstar of the 60's (try that sometime). In that era he made westerns (DUEL AT DIABLO), romances (PARIS BLUES) and a very silly Viking saga (THE LONG SHIPS). I like the intense cold-war thriller THE BEDFORD INCIDENT (65), where Poitier plays a reporter aboard a U.S. nuclear sub captained by Richard Widmark. Even though the movie ends on a very bleak note, it had nothing to do with Sidney's skin color (which I believe is what appealed to him about the film).

After losing his way in the 70's (and his audience) with a series of dismal comedies with Bill Cosby, Poitier disappeared from the screen for a decade (anyone know what he kept busy with at that time?) but came roaring back in the excellent thriller SHOOT TO KILL (88), playing an FBI agent hunting a crazed killer with the aid of Tom Berenger (remember when he was a headliner?). Poitier gets a chance to channel the rage and angst of Det. Virgil Tibbs in this film and he's a lot of fun in it. I've also always had a soft spot for SNEAKERS (92) where Poitier is back in his sane, nice guy personae.
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Re: A Patch of Blue - some help please

Postby charliechaplinfan » September 10th, 2011, 12:48 pm

I don't understand the Jackie Robinson reference, sorry for my ignorance. I think what you say about Sidney Poitier not wanting to be the greatest black actor of his generation but a great actor who is black, the two things are very different and I think he's achieved what he set out to be.

I was thinking more about this film last night and one of the pivotal scenes to me is when Roseanne tries to 'rescue' Selina from Gordon she seems to expect someone to come to her aid, in fact she expects everyone to be on her side, yet no one helps and look at her in disdain and disgust. Is this showing that attitudes were changing, that Roseanne is clinging on to her prejudices when others are realising the error of their ways. I do realise to that I'm possibly painting with too broad a brush, I can't remember if the town where this drama takes place is ever mentioned, is it in a hotbed of racial prejudice? My thoughts were that it was just in an ordinary town/city where there would be a lot of different opinions. I also saw that when they were together at the supermarket it was the women of Roseanne's age that were giving them dissapproving looks.
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Re: A Patch of Blue - some help please

Postby CineMaven » September 11th, 2011, 1:37 am

"Silly" "simple-minded"??? Naaaaah. Too harsh adjectives for "THE LONG SHIP" (1964) which I found to be just rousing good fun when I was a girl, and now as an old Baby Boomer. I'm glad you're discovering Sidney Poitier, Charlie. James Edwards was the Serious Young Actor before Sidney Poitier but he never seemed to break through like Poitier.

I think what Gary J. is referring to when he mentions: "Although Poitier realized that as his star ascended he would be thrust into the 'Jackie Robinson' role, he looked at the situation with a more clinical eye..." is that Poitier would be the first Black actor to do this...or the first Black actor to do that. Breaking the color barrier. Back in 1974, I was coming back on a flight from the Bahamas, and sitting in the first-class section was Poitier and wife Joanna Shimkus and their children. (Yes, I was in Coach). I had some big 200-page Hollywood book that I don't recall its title, and in the book was a shot of Shelley Winters beating Sidney with her purse from "A Patch of Blue." As the plane was landing (and no, I did not wear my seatbelt) I was determined to get Mr. Poitier's autograph in my book. When we finally landed, I bolted out the door (as quick as I could but was impeded by a bunch of passengers in front of me) and made my way in the crowd that surrounded him. I did get an autograph right on that picture and he said Winters was really hitting him. As the crowd swallowed him I saw his wife standing outside the circle with these two little girls. I went over and told her I was a big fan of her in the film "The Virgin and the Gypsy" and to make her feel good, I asked for her autograph as well.

I hope you continue to seek out Poitier's films. His hey-dey was the 50's and 60's and I'm sure Harry Belafonte would have loved to have had Poitier's career but he wasn't as talented...and besides, Harry was just too darned good-looking.

By the by...your mum has good taste. :)
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Re: A Patch of Blue - some help please

Postby charliechaplinfan » September 11th, 2011, 1:58 pm

I love your story Cinemaven, I wolud have bolted out of the plane as soon as I could to acost him for an autograph, how nice of him to tell you that Shelley really was hitting him, I think he must have appreciated your interest.

I'm definetly going to look for his other films. Harry Belafonte, I think I've only seen him in Carmen Jones, he sure was nice in that.
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Re: A Patch of Blue - some help please

Postby CineMaven » September 11th, 2011, 6:10 pm

That book of films is somewhere amongst my souvenirs. Poitier and Belafonte are good close friends.

You should watch Belafonte as a rural school principal in "BRIGHT ROAD." Then he tangles with Robert Ryan in "ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW." He's also in "ISLAND IN THE SUN" paired with Joan Fontaine and finally may I add another film of Belafonte's for your queue? "THE WORLD, THE FLESH and THE DEVIL." Belafonte, Inger Stevens and Mel Ferrer are the last three people on earth. Now, what red-blooded woman would pass up this for Mel Ferrer.

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Now reallly...
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Re: A Patch of Blue - some help please

Postby charliechaplinfan » September 12th, 2011, 12:20 pm

I like Mel Ferrer too, admitedly I haven't seen him in much, actually I'm only going off his role in Lili but then I did like Harry in Carmen Jones, it'll be worth it just to make my mind up.
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Re: A Patch of Blue - some help please

Postby RedRiver » September 12th, 2011, 2:26 pm

I bolted out the door (as quick as I could but was impeded by a bunch of passengers in front of me) and made my way in the crowd that surrounded him.

Try that today, you'll be detained, waterboarded, and never heard from again!

A PATCH OF BLUE is a soft, sensitive, thought provoking story. Well played by all, especially the superb Ms. Hartman. A film that touches the heart in unforgettable ways. I lean toward the "never see each other again" theory. But, as stated, Gordon opens all kinds of doors for her. Introduces her to a new world. It's the best gift he could give her.

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Re: A Patch of Blue - some help please

Postby CineMaven » September 12th, 2011, 8:10 pm

Awww man...that happened to me at LAX when I left the TCM Film Festival for home. I was "never going to be heard of again..." but then I started talking about old movies, and the authorities let me go. So here I am.

I'll vote for Gordon and Selina "never to see each other again." A lot of movies back then would give their characters very "noble" reasons why their interractial coupling could never be seen comfortably in the world at large. I scratched my head at Hedy Lamarr and Robert Taylor in "LADY OF THE TROPICS." Her character couldn't even get to France with Robert Taylor.
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Re: A Patch of Blue - some help please

Postby Mr. Arkadin » September 12th, 2011, 10:57 pm

CineMaven wrote:I'll vote for Gordon and Selina "never to see each other again." A lot of movies back then would give their characters very "noble" reasons why their interractial coupling could never be seen comfortably in the world at large.


Although the main theme of the film is race, I find the barriers between Gordon and Selina largely internal, stemming from her own issues. Selina has never had any real affection and falls upon Gordon as one who is starving, because he is providing the love and care which was always denied her. Gordon, who never intended to become romantically involved, finds himself stirred, but knows that only by broadening and enriching Selina's life can she be free to choose him. She is too dependent on him right now and needs to stand on her own two feet and make her own decisions. In short, she's still a child, and an abused one at that. While I definitely understand the"noble" aspect, I think a lot of care was taken with this film to make people see Gordon and Selina not just as an interracial couple, but two individuals who are drawn together by the basic need to give and receive love. Will she return to him? My gut instinct says no. Like The Remains of the Day (1993) (also showing this month), which also features a doomed pair in desperate need of affection, perhaps the truest realization of love is freedom, as symbolized by the pigeon Stevens and Lewis release from Darlington Hall.
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