Sydney Poitier became the first African American to win the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1964 for “Lilies of the Field.” It is one of the gentlest movies I’ve seen in a long time – and I mean that in the best possible way. The film – simple and inspiring – was the perfect one to revisit. Its message of empathy, faith and trust is so needed right now.
Homer Smith (Poitier) is making his way across the West – sleeping in his station wagon. He stops to get some water at a farm from some strangely dressed women who speak German, Hungarian and Austrian. The farm obviously needs some work – and Smith (or ‘Schmidt’ as the nuns call him) is convinced by them to stay and do some minor repairs. The women turn out to be nuns – and Mother Maria Marthe – the abbess of the small convent – wants him to build them a chapel. He plans to collect his wages and get out, fast – but there’s no money nor do they have any materials. Eventually Schmidt builds the chapel. He builds it by turns as a challenge, as a duty, and finally as an act of faith.
The heart of the movie is the interactions between Poitier and the nuns. He is invited to eat with them. He doesn’t like the food and there’s not much of it – but actually their sharing of a meal warms him. The nuns don’t speak English and he embarks on teaching them – which become some delightful exchanges – moments in which Poitier shows impeccable comic timing and charm. It’s as if he were rediscovering his own language. In the evenings the nuns sing sacred music in Latin and Schmidt teaches hymns of his youth – encouraging to sing out loud. Mexican neighbors who at first seemed apprehensive of the nuns start volunteering to build the chapel, and prejudiced people of all kinds slowly overcome their attitudes.
Race is never addressed. The movie is an allegory. We’re presented with the collaboration of Eastern European refugees and an African American who are trying to build a chapel for their Latin American congregation. Schmidt is not measured by the color of his skin – but by his capabilities and intelligence. The collective decency of this group of people – led by Schmidt – builds this chapel.
Lilia Skala is wonderful as Mother Maria Marthe, and was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress, but the film belongs to Poitier who is just splendid.
The film could be dismissed as sentimental nonsense. It believes that there’s a good in all of us – and it’s not cynical about it. We could all use some “Lilies of the Field.”
Mr. Ashton: “Say, where’d you get all the material?”
Juan: “The people give them.”
Mr. Ashton: “What for?”
Juan: “A man, he gives wood… bricks. In time, what does he get? A chapel… a place where his children can receive the sacraments. To these men, for their children to have faith, it is important.”
Mr. Ashton: “Is that why you’re here?”
Juan: “To me, it is insurance. To me, life is here on this earth. I cannot see further, so I cannot believe further. But, if they are right about the hereafter, I have paid my insurance.”
Lilies of the Field
Available to rent on Amazon Prime, Vudu, FandangoNOW, iTunes and Microsoft.
Screenplay by James Poe. Based on the novel by William E. Barrett
Directed by Ralph Nelson
Starring Sidney Poitier, Lilia Skala, Lisa Mann, Isa Crino, Francesca Jarvis
Bringing “Lilies of the Field” to the Screen
“A story written by William Barrett, “Lilies of the Field” was first brought to the attention of Ralph Nelson by his agent, Fred Ingels. Nelson was so inspired by the slim, ninety-two-page book that his intent to bring it to the film screen became unshakeable. When United Artists would only cough up $250,000 for the entire production, Nelson put up his house as collateral in order to ensure the movie could be made. He also struck a deal with Poitier; since he would be unable to pay the actor’s salary in full, they agreed upon a profit-sharing deal with the box office returns. In terms of tenacity, Nelson had a kindred spirit in his production manager, Joe Popkin. Together they designed a shooting schedule so carefully crafted it would enable them to wrap the entire production in fourteen days.” (www.tcm.com)
“On April 13, 1964, Sydney Poitier becomes the first African American to win the Academy Award for Best Actor, for his role as a construction worker who helps build a chapel in “Lilies of the Field” (1963). Poitier was born in 1924, while his parents were visiting the United States from the Bahamas, where his father was a tomato farmer. As a teenager, Poitier dropped out of school and returned to America to enlist in the U.S. Army during World War II. After his military stint, he became interested in theater and applied to the American Negro Theatre in New York City. Rejected initially because of his strong island accent, Poitier trained himself in American enunciation and reapplied, this time successfully. He debuted on Broadway in 1946 in an all-black production of “Lysistrata”, and by 1950 he was appearing in Hollywood films, beginning with “No Way Out.”
By consistently refusing to play the stereotypical roles that were offered to him as a black actor, Poitier blazed a trail for himself and the performers who followed him. By the time he earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination for “The Defiant Ones” (1958), his work in such films as “The Blackboard Jungle” (1955) had made him America’s first prominent black film star. With his historic Oscar win for “Lilies of the Field,” Poitier became only the second African American to win an Academy Award. The first was Hattie McDaniel, who won in the Best Supporting Actress category in 1939 for “Gone with the Wind.” (www.history.com)
About Director Ralph Nelson
“As a teenager, Nelson had frequent run-ins with the law. He later developed an interest in acting, and he made his Broadway debut in 1934. While serving as a flight instructor for the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II, he wrote plays that appeared on Broadway: “Army Play-by-Play” (1943) and “The Wind Is Ninety” (1945), with Kirk Douglas and Wendell Corey starring in the latter. In 1948 Nelson broke into the nascent television industry, acting on Kraft Television Theatre. Two years later he began directing, and he eventually helmed hundreds of live TV productions, many of which were critically lauded. In 1956 he directed Rod Serling’s teleplay “Requiem for a Heavyweight” for the Playhouse 90 series; it starred Jack Palance as an over-the-hill boxer who is used and manipulated by his manager. Often cited as one of the best examples of live drama performed on television, it earned Nelson an Emmy Award for his direction. He also received an Emmy nomination for his work on “The Man in the Funny Suit” (1960), which aired on the Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse.
For his first film, Nelson directed a highly acclaimed adaptation of “Requiem for a Heavyweight” (1962). “Lilies of the Field” (1963), a well-observed drama that explored issues of faith, was even more successful. It starred Sidney Poitier as a veteran whose travels around the United States are interrupted when he agrees to help a group of German nuns in Arizona build a chapel. For his performance, Poitier became the first African American to win an Academy Award for best actor, and the film was nominated for best picture. “Soldier in the Rain” (1963), an eccentric but likable military drama, starred Steve McQueen, Gleason, and Tuesday Weld. Next was “Fate Is the Hunter” (1964), a suspense film about a plane-crash investigation with Glenn Ford and Rod Taylor. In the amiable “Father Goose” (1964), Cary Grant appeared against type as a beach bum on a South Seas island during World War II. In 1966 Nelson ventured into westerns with “Duel at Diablo,” which starred James Garner and Poitier. Nelson then guided Cliff Robertson to the best-actor Oscar with “Charly” (1968), a popular expansion of Daniel Keyes’s classic science-fiction story “Flowers for Algernon.”
He also continued to explore race relations with “…tick…tick…tick” (1970), a drama about the tensions that erupt in a rural Southern town after an African American (played by Jim Brown) is elected sheriff. Nelson reteamed with Poitier on “The Wilby Conspiracy” (1975), which was set in South Africa during the apartheid era. His last two films were made-for-television productions: “Christmas Lilies of the Field,” with Billy Dee Williams in the Poitier role, and “You Can’t Go Home Again” (both 1979), an adaptation of Thomas Wolfe’s autobiographical novel.” (www.britannica.com
FAQsWhy was it called lilies of the field? ›
It was produced and directed by Ralph Nelson. The title comes from the Sermon on the Mount in the Bible (Matthew 6:27–33 and its parallel scripture from Luke 12:27–31). It features an early film score by prolific composer Jerry Goldsmith.How does Lilies of the Field End? ›
The book ends with a chapter in which Homer (remembered as “Schmidt,” the nuns' name for him) and his work have become a legendary myth among the townsfolk, in which he is an angel. The painting placed on chapel is of a saint who looks like Homer Schmidt.Is lilies of the field a good movie? ›
Lilies of the Field is a funny, sentimental, charming and uplifting film, in which intelligence, imagination and energy are proved again to be beyond the price of any super-budget.What do lilies symbolize? ›
But the most common meaning is purity and fertility. The sweet and innocent beauty of the lily flower has given it the association of fresh life and rebirth.What is the biblical meaning of the name lily? ›
Lily is a name that people associate with innocence and purity, so it has some ties to biblical girl names. It's not a traditional biblical name, but it has associations due to lilies representing the Virgin Mary's purity and innocence. Other meanings behind the name Lily include “God is abundance” and “rebirth.”What did Jesus mean by Consider the lilies? ›
God sees the smallest creation and He most assuredly sees you and me. He will provide and care for us as we trust Him. All the worry for our basic needs won't add a thing to our lives and, in fact, most often robs the sweetness out of life.What does the lily represent in Christianity? ›
Mentioned many times in the Bible, the white lily symbolizes purity, rebirth, new beginnings and hope and is most often associated with the resurrection of Jesus Christ as observed on Easter. In Pagan traditions, the Easter lily is associated with motherhood and is often gifted to mothers as a symbol of gratitude.What kind of lilies are in the Bible? ›
Anemone (Lily of the Field) - anemone coronaria
These are wild field flowers in Palestine and almost certainly the wild anemones that were referred to by Jesus as the lilies of the field in His sermon on the mount, as they still grow wild near the Lake of Galilee.
Though Lily's Well provides 10+ endings, some overlap with the same structure of ending as well as the same image, which is a shame considering how genuinely interesting most of the endings are only to have a few just be copied and pasted, deflating the effect that ending's run.
The Lilies of the Field is a 1962 novel by William Edmund Barrett, who based his depiction of the sisters, partly upon the Benedictine nuns of the Abbey of St. Walburga, originally located in Boulder Colorado.How does cobra lily announce arrival and end of rainy season? ›
The seeds of the cobra lily are turning red, signifying that the rains are coming to an end.Was Lily actually playing the piano? ›
The piano recital scene in the first episode is hands-down one of the most awe-inspiring scenes from the show. If you're wondering whether Cathy actually played the piece, the answer is yes, and she effectuated it beautifully. Behind that pure perfection of a performance was lots, and lots, and lots of practice.Where in the Bible does it say Consider the Lilies of the Field? ›
A similar passage appears in Luke 12:27, which in the King James Version reads: Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.What state was Lilies of the Field filmed? ›
Filmed on-location in Tucson. The church doors were borrowed from the Chapel in Sasabe, Arizona. Shot on-location in Arizona in only fourteen days.Does lily symbolize love? ›
What Do Lily Flowers Mean? Lilies have long been associated with love, devotion, purity and fertility. The sweet and innocent beauty of the flower has ensured it remains tied to the ideas of fresh new life and rebirth.Which flower means love? ›
The red rose is known as the flower of love. The red rose symbolizes deep emotions and desires. Red roses are traditionally given to symbolize love, but aren't the only ones to earn this title. Other types of love flowers include peonies, sunflowers, or tulips, which symbolize happiness, prosperity and romance.Do lilies mean peace? ›
Symbolism. Unsurprisingly, the peace lily is known as a bringer of peace: the white flower represents the white flag which is recognised internationally as a truce signal.What is lily the God of? ›
Those of you who take an active interest in ancient Greek mythology may already know that the lily symbolises Hera, the Greek Goddess of Love and Marriage.What God is associated with lilies? ›
The lily is the flower above all others and is associated with Hera, the goddess of fertility and protector of women. In Greek mythology, Hera's husband Zeus had a son named Heracles with a mortal woman.
Origin:Hebrew. Meaning:lily or rose. Shoshana is a girl's name of Hebrew origin.Why is lilies of the field important? ›
Thanks to its uplifting themes, and the star power of Sidney Poitier, Lilies of the Field was a surprise critical and box office success. It also garnered Sidney an Oscar for Best Actor, making him the first black man to win the award.Why is Mary's symbol a lily? ›
The Roman Catholic Church, never one to scrimp on symbolism, adopted the white lily (later known as the Madonna lily) as a symbol for the Virgin Mary—its whiteness symbolizing Mary's purity, innocence, fertility, and connection to the divine.How God clothes the lilies of the field? ›
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?Which flower is known for Faith & hope? ›
Iris. All colors of Iris represent eloquence. Different hues have different specific meanings too. Faith and hope both are expressed with the blue iris.What is lilies in Psalms? ›
Shoshannim (Hebrew ששנים, 'lilies') is mentioned in Psalm 45 and Psalm 69. Its meaning in these Psalms is uncertain. Some believe it to be a kind of lily-shaped straight trumpet, a six-stringed instrument, a word commencing a song or the melody to which these psalms were to be sung.What flower represents the Bible? ›
Lily of the Valley in the Bible
The Lily of the Valley also symbolizes Christian Living. We ask, seek, and knock for the beauty, fruitfulness, and fragrance of Christ in our everyday lives. Christians represent a flower among the thorns of the world.
Lilies most commonly mean devotion or purity, though meaning can vary by type of lily, culture, and color. Because of the Greek myth of Hera and Zeus, lilies are associated with rebirth and motherhood. In China, lilies are used in weddings because they are tied to 100 years of love. They are also tied to good luck.What flower symbolizes heaven? ›
Meaning & Symbolism of Irises
The iris's mythology dates back to Ancient Greece, when the goddess Iris, who personified the rainbow (the Greek word for iris), acted as the link between heaven and earth.
The flower of god is Dianthus caryophyllus or Carnation . The name is a fusion of the Greek words "dios" and "anthos." The Greek god Zeus is depicted by "dios," and "anthos" means flower. That's why the Carnation is recognized as “God's Flower.”
Earn Your Happy Ending: The only real happy ending can only be obtained by getting all of the rope endings (and killing Lily multiple times) and calling the complete phone number obtained from these endings.What is the code in Lily's well? ›
In the cave, there's a birthday card celebrating Lily's first birthday. From that, work out what Lily's actual birthdate was. The combination is this date in MMDDYY format.What is the highest level in Lilys garden? ›
This is no definate numbers of levels right now the highest is 4252 .. and will move upward.What do lilies of the field look like? ›
Flowers are crimson red with a black center, and leaves are finely dissected and close to the ground. In some populations, the color of the flower may be purple or pink and rarely white. During the dry summer leaves are dried.Who is Mr Ashton in Lilies of the Field? ›
Lilies of the Field (1963) - Ralph Nelson as Mr. Ashton - IMDb.Where are the lilies in we happy few? ›
The Lilies of the Field quest is one of the Side Encounters in We Happy Few. It is located in St. George's Holm - also known as Hamlyn Village. You can often find this encounter near the safehouse in a small corner garden area, where a dumpy woman is crying - something people on Joy should not be doing.Why did the author not see Bijju? ›
The author could not see Bijju because of the mist that concealed the hills. He could only hear his voice but could not see him.Why does the writer call the mist melancholy? ›
The author calls the mist melancholy because not only does it conceal the hills, it blankets them in silence too. On June 25, there was some genuine early monsoon rain. It was warm and humid, contrary to the cold high-altitude weather that the author had been experiencing all year.What was the significance of cobra lily? ›
The cobra lily signifies both the beginning and end of the monsoon. At the beginning of the monsoon season, it is the cobra lilies that rear first and it is in late June. During the end of the monsoon season, its seeds start to turn red.Was Lily a hallucination? ›
Around the midpoint of Black Swan, a movie that I love because it's pants-crappingly amazing and off-kilter, it's clearly established that Nina (Natalie Portman) is able to hallucinate several hours' worth of false memories that heavily involve Mila Kunis's character, Lily—as well as various other graphic and violent ...
The nickname "Big" refers to his status as a "major tycoon, major dreamboat, and majorly out of [Carrie's] league," according to the show's dialogue. (His real name is not revealed to viewers until the final episode of the series; in a running joke, whenever Carrie is about to introduce Mr.What did big do to Carrie? ›
Big bumps into Carrie and her new boyfriend Aidan Shaw at a furniture show. He begins to pine for Carrie and initiates an affair with her. Carrie feels guilty about having sex with Mr. Big, but she continues the affair.Why is it called lilies of the field? ›
It was produced and directed by Ralph Nelson. The title comes from the Sermon on the Mount in the Bible (Matthew 6:27–33 and its parallel scripture from Luke 12:27–31). It features an early film score by prolific composer Jerry Goldsmith.How does God dress a flower? ›
They don't work or make clothes for themselves. But I tell you that even Solomon with his riches was not dressed as beautifully as one of these flowers. God clothes the grass in the field like that. The grass is living today, but tomorrow it is thrown into the fire to be burned.What does the field represent in Matthew 13? ›
The field represents the world. The good seeds represent God's true people, the sons of the kingdom. The tares represent false believers in the world, the sons of the wicked one, who (like tares among wheat) may superficially look like God's true people.Did Lilies of the Field win any Oscars? ›
Lilies of the FieldWhere is the actual field in the movie the field? ›
The film is set in the early 1930s and was shot almost entirely in the Connemara village of Leenaun.What's the meaning of lily of the valley? ›
Lily of the valley blooms were taken to the gates of heaven to measure the purity of the heart and soul. It's also believed that the blooms symbolize the tears of Eve after God expelled her from the Garden of Eden. Many also use the lily of the valley to represent humility and the purity of Jesus Christ.What is lily's Garden storyline? ›
The premise is that Lily's great-aunt Mary has just passed away, tasking Lily with fixing up her property in 30 days in order to inherit the property outright. By completing match-three levels, the player earns resources that they can use to upgrade Lily's new property and unlock the next part of the serialized story.Why does Montag say lilies of the field? ›
He thinks, 'Consider the lilies of the field, shut up, shut up. ' This allusion illustrates the shift in Montag as he loses interest in the shallow material things that his society is so focused on.
The novel Lilies of the Field is semi-fictional: based on the true story of the Sisters of Walburga, a group of east German Catholic nuns who up rooted to start a nunnery in Arizona.What is the movie the field based on? ›
A film adaptation was released in 1990, directed by Jim Sheridan with Richard Harris in the lead role. John B. Keane based the story on the 1958 murder of Moss Moore, a bachelor farmer living in Reamore, County Kerry.Was Lily pregnant in Lily's garden? ›
Turns out, Lily faked the positive pregnancy test to get rid of Blaine.What happens after 30 days in Lily's garden? ›
Afterward, Philip reveals that the 30-day condition was only a ploy he and Mary concocted to ensure Lily would be invested in keeping the estate. He apologizes for the deception, and Lily happily takes ownership of the estate.How many endings does Lily's well have? ›
Though Lily's Well provides 10+ endings, some overlap with the same structure of ending as well as the same image, which is a shame considering how genuinely interesting most of the endings are only to have a few just be copied and pasted, deflating the effect that ending's run.What book is Montag trying to read understand when he keeps repeating the lilies of the field? ›
Consider the lilies of the field. They toil not, neither do they In his surreal dash on the subway toward Faber's house, Montag tries to read a line from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount from the Gospel of St. Matthew.What is lilies of the field in the Bible? ›
Consider the lilies of the field is used by people who are earnestly or jokingly telling others not to worry about minor things.Who are the nuns in Lilies of the Field? ›
The nuns—Mother Maria Marthe, and sisters Gertrud, Albertine, Elizabeth and Agnes—have no money, subsist on little food and have no materials to build their church. Nevertheless, Smith—a Baptist—agrees to stay to help them with other small jobs, though he realizes he is unlikely to be paid for his labor.Is the chapel from lilies of the field still standing? ›
The actual building was real and could have stood for decades, but because it was built on rented property, it had to be demolished immediately after the filming was completed.Is there a real Field of Dreams? ›
Field of Dreams is a baseball field and pop-culture tourist attraction built for the 1989 movie of the same name. It is located in Dyersville, Iowa, within Dubuque County.
5 The Field (1990)
Most of the movie was shot around Leenane in Co Galway. The pub scenes were shot in Gaynor's Bar, on the town's main street.
Jenny Conroy: Katie - The Tinker Girl