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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Patch of Blue (1965)





















Starring:
  • Sidney Poitier
  • Shelley Winters
  • Elizabeth Hartman
IMDB.com
Accidentally blinded by her prostitute mother Rose-Ann at the age of five, Selina D'Arcey spends the next 13 years confined in the tiny Los Angeles apartment that they share with "Ole Pa", Selina's grandfather. One afternoon at the local park, Selina meets Gordon Ralfe, a thoughtful young office worker whose kind-hearted treatment of her results in her falling in love with him, unaware that he is black. They continue to meet in the park every afternoon and he teaches her how to get along in the city. But when the cruel, domineering Rose-Ann learns of their relationship, she forbids her to have anything more to do with him because he is black. Selina continues to meet Gordon despite Rose-Ann's fury, who is determined to end the relationship for good.

Shelley Winters's platinum-haired, overweight, foul-mouthed Roseanne D'arcy is as much fun to watch as her pouty, midwestern Charlotte Haze in Lolita. As sharp and horrible as a root canal, she marches around the tiny apartment she shares with her daughter and father, ordering Selina about like an indentured servant: "Where's my dinner?" she bellows like a foghorn. Classic. The fight scene between she and her father is not to be missed, as the one-liners fly back and forth like knives. When the neighbors try to intervene, Shelley launches into them like the assault on Normandy, gleefully turning husband against wife.

Sidney Poitier is wonderful as always, as Gordon. As an actor, Poitier can do no wrong; he glides into the room with that curious mixture of animal magnetism and precise diction, sizing up a situation with the efficiency of an accountant. His Gordon Ralfe is realistic and fatherly toward Selina, even as he tries to ignore the underlying romantic tension between Selina and himself.

Elizabeth Hartman's Selina is so fragile that she looks as though she will break any moment. I have a hunch that much of her excellent performance is mined from her real-life depression, if her IMDb biography is accurate.

This is an excellent film, and highly recommended

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