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EYE-BALL MovieZone – Oscar Movies 1963…

October 26, 2011
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EYE-BALL MovieZone –
Oscar Movies 1963:
EYE-BALL MovieZone1963 Nominees:

[Oscar Best Picture Winner – highlighted – click Nominee Movie links provided to navigate your way up and down the page – each Movie has additional links to Bit Torrent ‘downloads’ links, Wikipedia Links for all the information about the nominated movie, and the EYE-BALL MovieZone Reviews and ratings. Movie posters appearing at this site have been copied from Wikipedia and other research related source sites.]

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Review – 1963 – no Movie poster available

“Tom Jones”:

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Summary: [Pasted from Wikipedia] –

Tom Jones is a 1963 British adventure comedy film, an adaptation of Henry Fielding’s classic novel The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (1749), starring Albert Finney as the titular hero. It was one of the most critically acclaimed and popular comedies of its time,[1] winning four Academy Awards. The film was directed by Tony Richardson and the screenplay was adapted by playwright John Osborne. The film is notable for its unusual comic style: the opening sequence is performed in the style of a silent movie, and characters sometimes break the fourth wall, often by looking directly into the camera and addressing the audience, and going so far as to have the character of Tom Jones suddenly appearing to notice the camera and covering the lens with his hat

Plot: [Pasted from Wikipedia] –

The story begins with a silent film sequence during which the good Squire Allworthy (George Devine) returns home after a lengthy stay in London and discovers a baby in his bed. Thinking that his barber, Mr. Partridge (Jack MacGowran), and one of his servants, Jenny Jones (Joyce Redman), have “birthed” the infant out of lust, the squire banishes them and chooses to raise little Tom Jones as if he were his own son.

Tom (Albert Finney) grows up to be a lively young man whose good looks and kind heart make him very popular with the opposite sex. However, he truly loves only one woman, the gentle Sophie Western (Susannah York), who returns his passion. Sadly, Tom is stigmatized as a “bastard” and cannot wed a young lady of her high station. Sophie, too, must hide her feelings while her aunt (Edith Evans) and her father, Squire Western (Hugh Griffith) try to coerce her to marry a more suitable man – a man whom she hates.

This young man is Blifil (David Warner, in his film debut), the son of the Squire’s widowed sister Bridget (Rachel Kempson). Although he is of legitimate birth, he is an ill-natured fellow with plenty of hypocritical ‘virtue’ but none of Tom’s warmth, honesty, or high spirits. When Bridget dies unexpectedly, Blifil intercepts a letter which his mother intended for her brother’s eyes only. What this letter contains is not revealed until the end of the movie; however, after his mother’s funeral, Blifil and his two tutors, Mr. Thwackum (Peter Bull) and Mr. Square (John Moffatt), join forces to convince the squire that Tom is a villain. Allworthy gives Tom a small cash legacy and sorrowfully sends him out into the world to seek his fortune.

In his road-traveling odyssey, Tom is knocked unconscious while defending the good name of his beloved Sophie and robbed of his legacy. He also flees from a jealous Irishman who falsely accuses him of having an affair with his wife, engages in deadly swordfights, meets his alleged father and his alleged mother, a certain Mrs. Waters, whom he saves from an evil Redcoat Officer, and later beds the same Mrs. Waters. In a celebrated scene, Tom and Mrs. Waters sit opposite each other in the dining room of the Upton Inn, wordlessly consuming an enormous meal while gazing lustfully at each other.

Meanwhile, Sophie runs away from home soon after Tom’s banishment to escape the attentions of the loathed Blifil. After narrowly missing each other at the Upton Inn, Tom and Sophie arrive separately in London. There, Tom attracts the attention of Lady Bellaston (Joan Greenwood), a promiscuous noblewoman over 40 years of age. She is rich, beautiful, and completely amoral, though it is worth noting that Tom goes to her bed willingly and is generously rewarded for his services. Eventually, Tom ends up at Tyburn Gaol, facing a boisterous hanging crowd after two blackguardly agents of Blifil frame him for robbery and attempted murder. Allworthy learns the contents of the mysterious letter: Tom is not Jenny Jones’s child, but Bridget’s illegitimate son and Allworthy’s nephew. Furthermore, since Blifil knew this, concealed it, and tried to destroy his half-brother, he is now in disgrace and disinherited. Allworthy uses this knowledge to get Tom a pardon, but Tom has already been conveyed to the gallows; his hanging is begun, but is interrupted by Squire Western, who cuts him down and takes him to Sophie. Tom now has permission to court Sophie, and all ends well with Tom embracing Sophie with Squire Western’s blessing.

EYE-BALL MovieZone Review …

I took no enjoyment from watching this movie – the style was a once off – disjointed with dialog and then actors taking to a camera and the like – British humour at its wackiest … and yet it won Best Picture Oscar … what were they on when they made that decision …

Finney can be funny – loved him in “A Good Year” with Russell Crowe – and serious as the mind altering villan in the “Jason Borne” series – but he was still learning his craft when he made this movie and it tells.

Could never see myself wanting to willing watch this movie ever again.

EYE-BALL MovieZone Rating [scale 0-10]: 2.5/10 …

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EYE-BALL MovieZoneReview – 1963

“America America”:

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Summary: [Pasted from Wikipedia] –

America, America (British title The Anatolian Smile) is a 1963 American dramatic film directed, produced and written by Elia Kazan, from his own book.

Plot: [Pasted from Wikipedia] –

In this tale, loosely based upon the life of Kazan’s uncle, the director uses little-known cast members, with the entire storyline revolving around the central performance of Greek actor Stathis Giallelis (born 1941), twenty-two years old at the time of production, who is in virtually every scene of the nearly three-hour movie.

The film begins in the late 1890s, as young Greek Stavros Topouzoglou (Giallelis), living in an impoverished village in Turkish Anatolia witnesses brutal oppression by the Turks of the Greek and Armenian minorities. He is entrusted by his father with the family’s financial resources in a mission of hope to the Turkish capital Constantinople [renamed Istanbul in 1930], where he would work in the carpet business of his father’s cousin (Harry Davis), although his own dream is to reach the faraway land of opportunity, America. His odyssey begins with a long voyage on a donkey and on foot through the impoverished towns and villages on the way to Constantinople. Due to his kind nature and naivete, he allows himself to be deprived of all his money and arrives at the cousin’s home penniless. The older man is deeply disappointed at this turn of events since he was counting on the infusion of funds to rescue his failing enterprise. Nevertheless, he attempts to salvage the situation by proposing that Stavros marry a wealthy merchant’s (Paul Mann) young daughter (Linda Marsh). Stavros realizes that such a marriage would mean the end of his American dream and adamantly refuses, abruptly leaving the angry cousin.

Now homeless on the streets of the capital, Stavros survives by eating discarded food and working at backbreaking and hazardous jobs. After nearly a year of scrimping and self-denial, he has some savings, but an encounter with an enticing beauty (Joanna Frank) leaves him, once again, bereft of income. Sinking even lower, he now finds himself living in an overcrowded subterranean hovel, which becomes a scene of chaos and bloodshed when it is attacked with gunfire by authorities purportedly searching for anarchists and revolutionaries. Severely injured in the mayhem, the unconscious Stavros is thrown among piles of dead bodies slated for disposal into the sea. He subsequently topples from the cart transporting the bodies and painfully makes his way to the cousin’s residence. The relative takes pity on the young man and allows him to recover at his home. Deprived now of all resistance, Stavros agrees to marry his intended bride. Upon being questioned by her regarding his moodiness, however, he admits that he still plans to immigrate to America, using the dowry money to pay for his passage. She then entreats him to take her along, admitting that she feels no hope in her present situation.

At this point Stavros becomes reacquainted with Hohannes (Gregory Rozakis), a young Armenian, whom Stavros aided with food and clothing during his original voyage to Istanbul. Hohannes informs him that he is being sponsored to America by an employer seeking labor. The offer is also extended to Stavros and his dream now seemed within reach. He tells his intended that he could not marry her, and subsequently embarks on the voyage. There is, however, another major impediment—an affair with the young wife (Katherine Balfour) of an older businessman (Robert H. Harris), well-known to his former prospective father-in-law. The older man lodges a criminal charge against Stavros, which would result in deportation back to Turkey. As everything looks bleak, however, the tubercular Hohannes exchanges documents with Stavros, allowing him to enter America in Hohannes’ place.

With the climactic image of the Statue of Liberty as the boatload of immigrants docks in New York Harbor, Stavros puts his tribulations behind him, starting out as a shoeshine boy and gathering the pennies and dollars that will eventually bring his family to the land where their descendants, including Elia Kazan, will have the chance to fulfill their potential.

EYE-BALL MovieZone Review …

A tragic telling of Turkish,  Armenian and Greek life during and before the turn on the 19th Century.   It’s an honest movie in its portrayal of the hardships endured by minority populations and the racial profiling and the discrimination issues the Turks displayed to everybody.

After “Lawrence of Arabia” and the portrayal of Turks in that movie – this was a quick follow up from a different angle.  One has to read about history – from both sides to understand events and gain an objective perspective.  We in Australia celebrate Anzac Day every year – about a Gallipoli and how the Turks kept the ANZAC forces at bay … our education during the 60’s was about the ‘evil’ Turks and this movie has some of that perspective about it.

It’s about the American dream for all the worlds lost and dislocated souls … a mammoth undertaking to put that down on film and tell a story at the same time – but this movie tries and through patience and understanding largely succeeds …

Shot in B&W – this movie is a relevant today as it was when it was released – the 50 odd million refugees around the world have this same dream – they are without homes, without a Nation in this modern society.

Recommended viewing.

EYE-BALL MovieZone Rating [scale 0-10]: 5.0/10 …

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EYE-BALL MovieZoneReview – 1963

“Cleopatra”:

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Summary: [Pasted from Wikipedia] –

Cleopatra is a 1963 British-American-Swiss epic drama film directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. The screenplay was adapted by Sidney Buchman, Ben Hecht, Ranald MacDougall, and Mankiewicz from a book by Carlo Maria Franzero. The film starred Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison, Roddy McDowall, and Martin Landau. The music score was by Alex North. It was photographed in 70 mm Todd-AO by Leon Shamroy and an uncredited Jack Hildyard.

Cleopatra chronicles the struggles of Cleopatra VII, the young Queen of Egypt, to resist the imperialist ambitions of Rome.

Despite being a critical failure, it won four Academy Awards. It was the highest grossing film of 1963, earning US $26 million ($57.7 million total), yet made a loss due to its cost of $44 million, the only film ever to be the highest grossing film of the year yet to run at a loss.

Plot: [Pasted from Wikipedia] –

The film opens shortly after the Battle of Pharsalus where Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison) has defeated Pompey. Pompey flees to Egypt, hoping to enlist the support of the young Pharaoh Ptolemy XIII (Richard O’Sullivan) and his sister Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor).

EYE-BALL MovieZoneCaesar pursues and meets the teenage Ptolemy and the boy’s advisers, who seem to do most of the thinking for him. As a gesture of ‘goodwill’, the Egyptians present Caesar with Pompey’s head, but Caesar is not pleased; it is a sorry end for a worthy foe. As Caesar settles in at the palace, Apollodorus (Cesare Danova), disguised as a rug peddler, brings a gift from Cleopatra. When a suspicious Caesar unrolls the rug, he finds Cleopatra herself concealed within and is intrigued. Days later, she warns Caesar that her brother has surrounded the palace with his soldiers and that he is vastly outnumbered. Caesar is unconcerned. He orders the Egyptian fleet burned so he can gain control of the harbor. The fire spreads to the city, burning many buildings, including the famous Library of Alexandria. Cleopatra angrily confronts Caesar, but he refuses to pull troops away from the fight with Ptolemy’s forces to deal with the fire. In the middle of their spat, Caesar begins kissing her.

The Romans hold, and the armies of Mithridates arrive on Egyptian soil. The following day, Caesar passes judgment. He sentences Ptolemy’s lord chamberlain to death for arranging an assassination attempt on Cleopatra, and rules that Ptolemy and his tutor be sent to join Ptolemy’s now greatly outnumbered troops, a sentence of death as the Egyptian army faces off against Mithridates. Cleopatra is crowned Queen of Egypt. She dreams of ruling the world with Caesar. When their son Caesarion is born, Caesar accepts him publicly, which becomes the talk of Rome and the Senate.

Caesar returns to Rome for his triumph, while Cleopatra remains in Egypt. Two years pass before the two see each other again. After he is made dictator for life, Caesar sends for Cleopatra. She arrives in Rome in a lavish procession and wins the adulation of the Roman people. The Senate grows increasingly discontented amid rumors that Caesar wishes to be made king, which is anathema to the Romans. On the Ides of March 44 B.C., the Senate is preparing to vote on whether to award Caesar additional powers. Despite warnings from his wife Calpurnia (Gwen Watford) and Cleopatra, he is confident of victory. However, he is stabbed to death by various senators.

EYE-BALL MovieZoneOctavian (Roddy McDowall), Caesar’s nephew, is named as his heir, not Caesarion. Realizing she has no future in Rome, Cleopatra returns home to Egypt. Two years later, Caesar’s assassins, among them Cassius (John Hoyt) and Brutus (Kenneth Haigh), are killed at the Battle of Philippi. Mark Antony (Richard Burton) establishes a second triumvirate with Octavian and Lepidus. They split up the empire: Lepidus receives Africa, Octavian Spain and Gaul, while Antony will take control of the eastern provinces. However, the rivalry between Octavian and Antony is becoming apparent.

While planning a campaign against Parthia in the east, Antony realizes he needs money and supplies, and cannot get enough from anywhere but Egypt. After refusing several times to leave Egypt, Cleopatra gives in and meets him in Tarsus. Antony becomes drunk during a lavish feast. Cleopatra sneaks away, leaving a slave dressed as her, but Antony discovers the trick and confronts the queen. They soon become lovers. Octavian uses their affair in his smear campaign against Antony. When Antony returns to Rome to address the situation brewing there, Octavian traps him into a marriage of state to Octavian’s sister, Octavia (Jean Marsh). Cleopatra flies into a rage when she learns the news.

A year or so later, when Antony next sees Cleopatra, he is forced to humble himself publicly. She demands a third of the empire in return for her aid. Antony acquiesces and divorces Octavia. Octavian clamors for war against Antony and his “Egyptian whore”. The Senate is unmoved by his demands until Octavian reveals that Antony has left a will stating that he is to be buried in Egypt; shocked and insulted, the Senators who had previously stood by Antony abandon their hero and vote for war. Octavian murders the Egyptian ambassador, Cleopatra’s tutor Sosigenes (Hume Cronyn), on the Senate steps.

The war is decided at the naval Battle of Actium. Seeing Antony’s ship burning, Cleopatra assumes he is dead and orders the Egyptian forces home. Antony follows, leaving his fleet leaderless and soon defeated. After a while, Cleopatra manages to convince Antony to retake command of his troops and fight Octavian’s advancing army. However, Antony’s soldiers have lost faith in him and abandon him during the night; Rufio (Martin Landau), the last man loyal to Antony, is killed. Antony tries to goad Octavian into single combat, but is finally forced to flee into the city.

When Antony returns to the palace, Apollodorus, not believing that Antony is worthy of his queen, convinces him that she is dead, whereupon Antony falls on his own sword. Apollodorus then takes Antony to Cleopatra, and he dies in her arms. Octavian captures the city without a battle and Cleopatra is brought before him. He wants to return to Rome in triumph, with her as his prisoner. However, realizing that her son is also dead, she arranges to be bitten by a poisonous asp.

EYE-BALL MovieZone Review …

An epic tale and an epic endeavour to put this story on screen – the Taylor/Burton chemistry like so much of their lives hot and cold – runs in tandum with the Mark Antony/Cleopatra love story – tragic and beautiful – the costumes and sets were outrageous and you can see where the money was spent.  But alas it failed on so many levels

Harrison as Caesar does a fine job – but when it comes down to McDowell (Octavius) and Antony (Burton) the lights went out – Burton was never an action actor – yet his role in the Alister McLean tale “Where Eagles Dare” – he was brilliant in a gallant hero type role …

If you love Elizabeth Taylor – be it a little plumpish – then this is a must have/watch movie purely for her costumes and makeup –

EYE-BALL MovieZone Rating [scale 0-10]: 4.5/10 …

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EYE-BALL MovieZoneReview – 1963

“How The West was Won”

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Summary: [Pasted from Wikipedia] –

How the West Was Won is a 1962 American epic Western film.[5] The picture was one of the last “old-fashioned” epic films made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to enjoy great success. It follows four generations of a family (starting as the Prescotts) as they move ever westward, from western New York state to the Pacific Ocean. Filmed using pre-existing Cinerama curving widescreen process stock footage, the movie is set between 1839 and 1889.

The fundamental idea behind the film was to provide an episodic retelling of the progress of westward migration and development of America. It was inspired by a much longer and more complex series of historical narratives that appeared as a photo essay series, by the same name, three years earlier in Life magazine, which is acknowledged in the film’s credits.

The all-star cast includes Carroll Baker, Walter Brennan, Lee J. Cobb, Andy Devine, Henry Fonda, Carolyn Jones, Karl Malden, Harry Morgan, Gregory Peck, George Peppard, Robert Preston, Debbie Reynolds, James Stewart, Eli Wallach, John Wayne, and Richard Widmark. The film is narrated by Spencer Tracy.

The movie consists of five segments, three directed by Henry Hathaway (“The Rivers”, “The Plains” and “The Outlaws”), and one each by John Ford (“The Civil War”) and George Marshall (“The Railroad”), with transitional sequences by the uncredited Richard Thorpe. The screenplay was written by John Gay (uncredited) and James R. Webb. Popular western author Louis L’Amour wrote a novelization of the screenplay.[6]

In 1997, How the West Was Won was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. The score was listed at #25 on AFI’s 100 Years of Film Scores.

Plot: [Pasted from Wikipedia] –

A family led by Zebulon Prescott (Karl Malden) sets out for the frontier west via the Erie Canal, the “west” at this time being the Illinois country. On the journey, they meet mountain man Linus Rawlings (James Stewart) who is traveling east to Pittsburgh to trade his furs. He and Zebulon’s daughter Eve (Carroll Baker) are attracted to each other, but Linus is not ready to settle down.

Linus stops at an isolated trading post run by a murderous clan of river pirates headed by “Colonel” Hawkins (Walter Brennan). Linus is betrayed when he accompanies pretty Dora Hawkins (Brigid Bazlen) into a cave to see a “varmint”. She stabs him in the back and pushes him into a deep hole. Fortunately, he is not seriously wounded, and is able to rescue the Prescott party from a similar fate. The bushwhacking thieves (Lee Van Cleef plays one), including Dora, are dispatched with rough frontier justice.

The settlers continue down the river, but their raft is caught in rapids and Zebulon and his wife Rebecca (Agnes Moorehead) drown. Linus, finding that he cannot live without Eve, reappears and marries her, even though she insists on homesteading at the spot where her parents died.

The Plains (1850s)

The wagon train is attacked by Cheyenne Indians.

EYE-BALL MovieZoneEve’s sister Lily (Debbie Reynolds) chooses to go to St. Louis, where she finds work performing in a dance hall. She attracts the attention of professional gambler Cleve Van Valen (Gregory Peck). After overhearing that she has just inherited a California gold mine, and to avoid paying his debts to another gambler (John Larch), Cleve joins the wagon train taking her there. He and wagonmaster Roger Morgan (Robert Preston) court her along the way, but she turns them both down, much to the dismay of her new friend and fellow traveler Agatha Clegg (Thelma Ritter), who is searching for a husband.

Surviving an attack by Cheyenne Indians, Lily and Cleve arrive at the mine, only to find that it is now worthless. Cleve leaves. Lily returns to work in a dance hall in a literal “Camp Town,” living out of a covered wagon. Morgan finds her and again proposes marriage in a rather unromantic way. She tells him, “No, not ever.”

Later, Lily is singing in the music salon of a riverboat. By chance, Cleve is a passenger. When he hears Lily’s voice, he leaves the poker table (and a winning hand) to propose to her, telling her of the opportunities waiting in the rapidly growing city of San Francisco. She accepts.

The Civil War (1861–1865)

EYE-BALL MovieZoneLinus joins the Union army as a captain in the American Civil War. Despite Eve’s wishes, their son Zeb (George Peppard) eagerly enlists as well, looking for glory and an escape from farming. Corporal Peterson (Andy Devine) assures them the conflict won’t last very long. The bloody Battle of Shiloh shows Zeb that war is nothing like he imagined and, unknown to him, his father Linus dies there. He encounters a similarly disillusioned Confederate (Russ Tamblyn) who suggests deserting, to which Zeb agrees.

However, by chance, they overhear a private conversation between Generals Ulysses S. Grant (Harry Morgan) and William Tecumseh Sherman (John Wayne). The rebel realizes he has the opportunity to rid the South of two of its greatest enemies and tries to shoot them, leaving Zeb no choice but to stab and kill him. Afterwards, Zeb rejoins the army.

When the war finally ends, he returns home, only to find his mother has died. She had lost the will to live after learning that Linus had been killed. Zeb gives his share of the family farm to his brother, who is more tied to the land, and leaves in search of a more interesting life.

The Railroad (1868)

The construction of railroad.

EYE-BALL MovieZoneFollowing the daring riders from the Pony Express and the construction of the transcontinental telegraph line in the late 1860s, two ferociously competing railroad lines, the Central Pacific Railroad and the Union Pacific Railroad, one building west and the other east, open up new territory to eager settlers.

Zeb becomes a lieutenant in the U.S. cavalry, trying to maintain peace with the Indians with the help of grizzled buffalo hunter Jethro Stuart (Henry Fonda), an old friend of Linus. When ruthless railroad man Mike King (Richard Widmark) violates a treaty by building on Indian territory, the Arapaho Indians retaliate by stampeding buffalo through his camp, killing many, including women and children. Disgusted, Zeb resigns and heads to Arizona.

The Outlaws (1880s)

EYE-BALL MovieZoneIn San Francisco, widowed Lily auctions off her possessions (she and Cleve had made and spent several fortunes) to pay her debts. She travels to Arizona, inviting Zeb and his family to oversee her remaining asset, a ranch.

Zeb (now a marshal), his wife Julie (Carolyn Jones) and their children meet Lily at Gold City’s train station. However, Zeb also runs into an old enemy there, outlaw Charlie Gant (Eli Wallach). It is revealed that Zeb killed Gant’s brother in a gunfight. When Gant makes veiled threats against Zeb and his family, Zeb turns to his friend and Gold City’s marshal, Lou Ramsey (Lee J. Cobb), but Gant is not wanted for anything in that territory, so there is little Ramsey can do.

Zeb decides he has to act rather than wait for Gant to make good his threat to show up someday. Suspecting Gant of planning to rob an unusually large gold shipment being transported by train, he prepares an ambush with Ramsey’s reluctant help. Gant and his entire gang (one member played by Harry Dean Stanton) are killed in the shootout. In the end, Lily and the Rawlingses travel to their new home.

A short epilogue shows Los Angeles and San Francisco in the early 1960s, including the famous four-level downtown freeway interchange and Golden Gate Bridge, indicating the growth of the West in 80 years.

EYE-BALL MovieZone Review …

A rambling tale with a super cast that fails to connect the dots for movie goers.  From Karl Malden to the George Peppard and Debbie Reynolds ending – the story of a wild west adventure bound family has far to many gaps to engage the audience – you get to know a character and then their written out …

Watchable but nothing that grabs me …

EYE-BALL MovieZone Rating [scale 0-10]: 4.0/10 …

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EYE-BALL MovieZoneReview – 1963

“Lilies of the Fields”:

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Summary: [Pasted from Wikipedia] –

Lilies of the Field, a 1963 film adapted from the 1962 novel with the same name by William Edmund Barrett, starring Sidney Poitier, Lilia Skala, Stanley Adams, and Dan Frazer, was adapted by James Poe from the novel. It was produced and directed by Ralph Nelson. The title comes from Matthew 6:27-33 a portion of the Sermon on the Mount in the New Testament and its parallel scripture from Luke 12:27-30. It also features an early film score by prolific composer Jerry Goldsmith.

It tells the story of an African American itinerant worker who encounters a group of East German nuns who believe he has been sent to them by God to build them a new chapel.

Plot: [Pasted from Wikipedia] –

Homer Smith (Sidney Poitier) is an itinerant handyman/jack-of-all-trades who stops at a farm in the Arizona desert to obtain some water for his car. There he sees several women working on a fence, very ineptly. The women, who speak very little English, introduce themselves as German, Austrian and Hungarian nuns. The mother superior, the leader of the nuns, persuades him to do a small roofing repair. He stays overnight, assuming that he will be paid in the morning. Next day, Smith tries to persuade the mother superior to pay him by quoting Luke 10:7, “The laborer is worthy of his hire.” Mother Maria Marthe (Lilia Skala, called “Mother Maria”), responds by asking him to read another Bible verse from the Sermon on the Mount: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

Mother Maria likes things done her way. The nuns have essentially no money and subsist by living off the land, on what vegetables the arid climate provides, and some milk and eggs. Even after being stonewalled when asking for payment, and after being persuaded to stay for a meal, and against his better judgment, Smith agrees to stay another day to help them with other small jobs, always with the faint hope that Mother Maria will pay him for his work.

As Smith’s skills and strengths become apparent to the nuns, they come to believe that he has been sent by God to fulfill their dream of building a chapel for the townsfolk–who are Hispanic and impoverished–as the nearest church is miles away.

When Sunday comes, Mother Maria informs Smith that he will be driving the sisters to Mass in his station wagon. (The nuns have no vehicle and thus ordinarily would walk the long distance to church.) Smith is invited to attend the Catholic Mass, but he declines because he is a Baptist. Instead, he takes the opportunity to a get proper breakfast from the trading post next door. In talking to the proprietor, Juan (Stanley Adams), Smith learns about the hardships that the nuns, led by the unyielding Mother Maria, overcame to emigrate from Eastern Europe — over the Berlin Wall — only to barely scratch out a meager living on the farm that was willed to their order.

Though he has come to realize how unlikely it is that he will be paid, and partly out of respect for all the women have overcome, Smith stays longer and finds himself driven to work on at least clearing the construction site for the chapel. He rationalizes that it would be too hard for the sisters to move the heavy beams. After losing another duel of Bible quotes with Mother Maria, Smith acknowledges that he has always wanted to be an architect, but couldn’t afford the schooling. His unfulfilled dream impels him to agree to undertake the (unpaid) job of building the sisters a chapel.

To earn money to buy some “real food” to supplement the spartan diet the nuns are able to provide him, Smith gets a part-time job with the nearby construction contractor, Ashton (director Ralph Nelson, uncredited), who is impressed that Smith can handle nearly every piece of heavy equipment he owns. Smith supplements the nuns’ diet as well, shopping for groceries to stock up their kitchen and delighting them with treats such as lollipops.

To pass the evenings, Smith (whom the nuns call “Schmidt”) helps the sisters improve their rudimentary English (only Mother Maria speaks the language well enough to converse with him) and joins them in singing. They share their different musical traditions with one another: their Catholic chants and his Baptist hymns. He teaches them to join him in the call-and-response song “Amen” by Jester Hairston (dubbed by Hairston in the film).

Smith, determined that the building will be constructed to the highest standards, insists that the work be done by him and only him. Meanwhile, the nuns write letters to various philanthropic organizations and charities asking for money for supplies, but all their requests are denied. As word spreads about the endeavor, locals begin to show up to contribute materials and to help in construction, but Smith rebuffs all offers of assistance in the labor. As he gains a larger and larger audience for his efforts, the locals, impressed with his determination, but no less dogged than he, will content themselves no longer with just watching. They find ways to lend a hand that Smith cannot easily turn down— the lifting of a bucket or brick, for example. Once the process is in motion, they end up doing as they intended, assisting in every aspect of the construction, as well as contributing materials. This greatly accelerates the progress, much to the delight of everyone but Smith.

Even Ashton, who has long ignored Mother Maria’s pleas, finds an excuse to deliver some more materials. Almost overnight, Smith finds that he’s become a building foreman and contractor. Enduring the hassles of coordinating the work of so many, the constant disputes with Mother Maria, and the trial of getting enough materials for the building, Smith brings the chapel to completion, placing the cross on the spire himself and signing his work where only he and God will know.

It is the evening before the Sunday when the chapel is to be dedicated. All the work has been done and Smith is exhausted. Now that there is nothing more to keep Smith among them, Mother Maria, too proud to ask him outright to stay, insists that he attend the opening Mass next day to receive proper recognition from the congregation. She speaks enthusiastically of all that “Schmidt” still can do to aid the town, such as building a school. Making no reply to any of this, Smith tricks Mother Maria, as part of the night’s English lesson, into saying “thank you” to him. Until then, she stubbornly had thanked only God for the work, assistance, and gifts that Smith had provided to the nuns. It is a touching moment between two strong personalities.

Later that evening, as he leads the nuns in singing “Amen” once again, Smith slips out the door and, still singing the lead, the nuns’ voices chiming softly behind him, he takes one last look at the chapel he built. Mother Maria hears him start up his station wagon, but sits stoically, singing along with the rest of the sisters, as Smith drives quietly off into the night.

EYE-BALL MovieZone Review …

Poitier won Best Actor for his role in this movie.  An intriguing and engaging tale – Nuns always make a movie interesting and the good-natured European ‘penguins’ in this movie give Poitier a lot of scope to contrast with.

The uneasy silences and limited music score make the movie real and different in so many ways – very enjoyable even today – how “Tom Jones” won Best Picture Oscar defies all movie goers senses …  both this movie and “America America” were compelling tales at opposite ends of the divide.

This movie makes the heart glow and teaches how easy it ts to give – it makes a statement we could all learn from in this selfish day and age.

This was a weak year for movies is all I can say.

EYE-BALL MovieZone Rating [scale 0-10]: 5.5/10 …

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The EYE-BALL MovieZone …

  1. Missy Homrich
    March 8, 2012 at 9:23 am

    I want to to thank you for this great read!! I definitely loved every bit of it. I have you book-marked to check out new stuff you post…

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