is ABSOLUTELY one of my favorite actors. Sure, he ends up playing the ultra-likable guy a lot in his movies because, well, he so gorram is
ultra-likable. He's one charismatic dude. The man doesn't get by just on charm either; he's no slouch in the acting department. This box set, more up to quality standards across the board (as opposed to most sets of this type) shows a variety of sides of the actor. While this doesn't have his most renowned films like "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"
, "Lillies of the Field"
(for which he became the first black man to win Best Actor
at the Oscars
) or "In the Heat of the Night"
, everything in here is completely worth the time for his fans. Like me. A white boy. Deal with it.
“Edge of the City”
, a drifter just wheeling into town who shows up at the railroad depot looking for loading work. He gets it through Charlie
) an older worker who more or less runs things out in the yard and siphons a quarter an hour off of Charlie
’s check as a grift payment for him to work there. Then Axel
’s meets T.T.
), a boisterous, educated, fun loving guy who practically insists on Axel
’s friendship. Despite threats from Charlie
, who clearly has it in for T.T.
gives in to his overtures of amiability and they hit it off as fast friends. It’s not long though before it becomes clear that Axel
has something to hide in his past, something that scares him. This fear is a barrier between him, T.T.
, his own family, and finally his own conscience.
Wow. Now THIS is how you make a movie about race relations. Through the first two thirds of the film, you completely forget about it. “Edge of the City”
seems to be about a black man and a white man becoming friends yet race doesn’t enter into it at all. Refreshing for a movie made in 1957. But the third reel...whoohee. Talk about your powerful, emotional stuff. Jack Warden
is magnificent as a gigantic douchebag. Hopefully this won't spoil my copy of "Heaven Can Wait"
A lot of folks have referred to this as a masterpiece despite it’s almost complete unavailability in any format until now. There’s nothing not to love about watching actors this great doing their best work with such an intelligent script for a director like Martin Ritt
at the beginning of an over 30 year career, who would go on to make other important working class dramas like “Norma Rae”
. “Edge of the City”
is a must see for anyone interested at all in films about social conscience. Which means you. No matter what you think. Stop being a slug and go do something helpful. I think Leon
could use a foot massage.
“A Warm December”
stars in and takes the director’s reigns for this somewhat misleading romantic drama. Poitier
plays Dr Matt Younger
, a handsome widower on vacation in London where he competitively races motorcycles for a hobby. He has a meet-cute with Catherine
), a mysterious woman who is clearly hiding from a number of different people who are following her. Matt
’s interest is piqued and he finds himself helping her get away on several occasions. Unfortunately, nothing is as spy-ish as it seems. Matt
quickly form a bond that even her disapproving peers can’t fight. But there’s a dark shadow hanging over their relationship. It’s a romantic DRAMA not comedy, which means there’s always some sort of tragic other shoe getting ready to drop.
As always, Poitier
is wonderful here, charismatic to a fault. He also directs with a sense of style and observance of color, even if he does overuse the zoom a bit, but a lot of folks were obsessed with that little lever in the seventies. The film dives into African culture with some really interesting music sequences that are a bit dated, but are fun to watch and listen to nonetheless. If there’s a complaint here it’s that despite the bright and warm textures of the movie, the story becomes almost entirely predictable by the half way point and plays out more or less like these things do, only without the willpower to see it to its finish. Even with all the quality work on “A Warm December”
it ends up being mostly forgettable.
“A Patch of Blue”
) is a teenage blind girl raised by an abusive alcoholic mother (an Academy Award winning Shelly Winters
) and grandfather who isn’t much better. She does her best to be the unquestioning Cinderella
of the story, cleaning the house, making the meals, never doubting that the abuse she suffers is her wont. One day, she gets to go to the park by herself. While sitting under a tree and making beaded necklaces to earn money, she meets the kind-hearted Gordon
is a well-to-do type with a liberal streak a mile wide. He feels sympathy for the girl and becomes her friend, regularly meeting her in the park, buying her lunch and gradually becoming more attached. Only problem is that this is still 1965 America. Love may be blind and so was Selina
but a lot of other folks weren't including Selina
’s grotesque mother. Her white trash racism (amongst all her other charming qualities) stands in the way of both the couple’s affection for each other and more importantly, Selina
being put somewhere that doesn’t abuse her all day long.
Another gem. This collection rocks. I would
like to see Poitier
play somebody who ISN’T the most evolved amazing guy in the world for once. But never mind that. He’s as affecting and commanding as ever in his performance here. Winters
won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar
for her despicable character and well she should of. I was still angry at this bitch hours after I was done with the movie. The saddest note is that the actress Elizabeth Hartman
suffered from depression and even though the role won her a Golden Globe
and she had a few successful parts after wards , she ended up committing suicide in 1987. Sad. Everything about this is kind of sad. But made of win.
Even though this is the one disc in the set that supposedly has extras, all it’s got to offer is a stills gallery, commentary by the director Guy Green
, a text blurb about Sidney Poitier
’s career, and a list of awards the film garnered. Old school and boring extras from the days of snap cases. What the hell? Such a great little collection of movies and there’s nothing added? Harumph.
“Something of Value”
is a ‘nice’
white guy in Africa. Meaning, he doesn’t want to smack around all the black people, shoot them, have them clean his boots with their tongues, etc. It’s not just his inability to fake (or even attempt) an English accent that sets him apart; his peer English imperialists around him tend to be a bunch of racist jerks. Unfortunately, the black man, Kimani
) he grew up with as a brother of sorts can’t merely look the other way when it’s boot polishing time. When the Mau Mau
uprisings begin against the English, Kimani
ends up joining their cause. After a series of murders of whites (which, honestly, we just won’t stand for, what what?) it’s open war and brother against brother.
Of all the films in this collection, “Something of Value”
offers the most complex questions about racial equality and colonialism. It offers no definitive answers or judgments, even on the acts of terrorism performed by the Mau Mau
but does come down on the side of non-violence. Which, like many films that pursue this route, does it through startling scenes of violence. For the time anyways. It’s no wonder that when this came out in 1957, many theaters wouldn’t screen it due to it’s inherent tensions and depictions of brutality. Racists didn't particularly enjoy thinking about their racism. They never do.
Even with all the good there is to say about this film, with all the thoughtfulness it provokes, it never quite jells as a movie. It’s rather long, or at least it feels that way. It wants to deal with many different aspects of the conflict and perhaps stretches itself a bit too thin at points. The budget appears smallish as well for a film with attempting this much scope. I would have expected something a little more impressive with the scenes involving the Mau Mau
attacks, or at least to see a few more of them. The side characters are almost entirely uninteresting, as is the side story of how Rock
’s relationship with his fiancee is troubled by the horrors of war he’s been exposed to. Maybe it’s because we all know in retrospect that he’d rather be in Sidney
’s loving arms. At the end, I was wrapped back up in the story but it almost lost me in it’s ponderous first half.
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