W: James Poe [based on the novel by William E.
DP: Ernest Haller
Ed: John McCafferty
Mus: Jerry Goldsmith
Sidney Poitier (Homer Smith), Lilia Skala
(Mother Maria), Lisa Mann (Sister Gertrude), Isa Crino (Sister Agnes), Francesca Jarvis (Sister Albertine), Stanley Adams (Juan Acalito), Dan Frazer (Father Murphy)
Sidney Poitier became the first African-American to win the
Best Actor Oscar for his performance in this low-key drama, adapted from the novel by William E. Barrett.
Poitier plays Homer Smith, an itinerant handyman travelling
across rural Arizona, stopping at a small farm run by a convent of nuns where he performs some odd jobs believing he will be paid the next day.
He learns that the nuns escaped the hardships of post-war
Germany to come to America and is convinced by them to build a chapel in the desert.
It's a simple story, wonderfully told and impeccably acted,
particularly by Poitier who brings a lot of life to a character that is very simply written.
Made on a very small budget of less $250,000 (impressive even
for the mid-60's), the film went on to earn many plaudits, not only for its lead actor, and was nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture (losing to Tom Jones). An incredibly pleasant piece of
work, followed by a made-for-TV sequel little over a decade later (Christmas Lilies Of The Field), although the original cast did not return.