I just saw Sydney Poitier's film Lilies of the Field. I honestly can't figure out how it survived the studio system in 1963, the year in which I was born. It's got none of the typical requisites. It's a rather thin plot. There's no romance ... and I suspect there was when the screenplay was first written.
Perhaps my ability to read subtext is subpar, but I cannot understand why Poitier's character takes the actions he does. He stays to help the nuns build a chapel ... for WHAT reason? He tolerates the unkind actions of the Prioress ... for what reason? Because he's a masochist at heart?
The only thing I really liked about the film was the faith theme: that carried a real payoff. Unfortunately, the lack of complexity in the music (an a cappella version of the black spiritual, "Amen") was annoyingeven to me.
But hey, Poitier got an Oscar nom because of the role, so it must be a good film, right?
Am I angry? Hmm. Am I? I don't know. I'll figure it out and let you know what I eventually think. Do I feel betrayed by the Oscar stamp of approval? Yes, I think so.
Perhaps what makes me so mad is the politics behind the film: no, we can't let Sydney fall in love with a white girl, so we'll do the film without the necessary love motivation.
The racism in the film is fairly obvious now, but back then, I suppose, it was a real feather in the cap of Poitier. Did the racism in society prevent the writers from telling the real story? Maybe that's what annoys me.
And I know people who would love this film. That's scary.