23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Sidney Poitier made his mark on this film!,
This review is from: Lilies Of The Field [DVD] (DVD)
I can't get enough of Mr. Poitier. It' was great that he won Best Actor on this film playing Homer Smith, who is an out-of-work construction worker that helps a group of foreign (East European) Catholic nuns build their church and learn to speak English. Lilia Skala was great too. She earned her only Academy Award nomination (Supporting Actress) playing the head Mother Superior Maria. There are a lot of wonderful touching moments and funny interactions between these two main characters that will have you glued to the set.
Sidney Poitier is masterful in this role and is greatly remembered for it. His subtle humor fills the plot, even becoming hilarious at times. In one scene Homer is teaching the German nuns English, and he cannot help himself from modeling for them some Southern black dialect: Instead of "I stand up," he grins as the sisters follow his "Ah stands up, y'all"! Homer is so likable because he is good-natured, but Poitier lends texture to his character mainly through his interaction with his foil, the Mother Superior who will not thank him for all of his labors. Watch for strong musical scenes from Poitier as well, in which he intermingles his own religious background with the nun's East Germany Catholicism.
Lilia Skala is appropriately stern and commanding as Mother Maria. We know the sisters have come a long way, even over the Berlin Wall, to get to this inherited property in the American desert. The broken English spoken by her and her charges serves to endear the nuns to us. They are all humble but fiercely devoted people. As Juan, Stanley Adams does nice work. Although his accent and diction smack of falseness - this man seems to want to revert to a Bronx twang - Adams musters a rascally nonchalance that bonds him with Homer. Juan also functions as a template for the modern age: Catholic-born, this agnostic now serves meals in his restaurant while the traveling priest says mass for the people who have come from far and wide.
Dan Frazer does well as Father Murphy, the priest whose prayers for a massive cathedral were answered with a trailer with bald tires. And director Ralph Nelson ( who made many films beside this one, notably "Requiem for a Heavyweight," "Father Goose" and "Charly) acquits himself well as Mr. Ashton, the slightly racist builder who employs Homer and who is the victim of Mother Maria's constant pleas for donations. If you are looking for a small but thought-provoking work, a film that covers tolerance and faith and friendship through its exploration of a most unlikely relationship, watch "Lilies of the Field."