LILIES OF THE FIELD is a "feel-good" movie that blazed new trails in the motion picture world. Not that it had any particular special effects or innovations in movies. It had no spectacular action or dance sequences and surely no violence. But it was a trendsetter in that it marked the
first time that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ever awarded an Oscar to a black actor, Poitier. Poitier is an ex-GI roaming around the Southwest, taking odd jobs and seeing what there is to see when he stops at a small farm to refill his car radiator. The farm is run by five
German nuns who immediately set upon him to help them with their manual labors. They are new to these shores and don't speak much English but the Mother Superior, Skala, convinces Poitier to stay a while and help work the farm that was willed to them. He fixes their leaky roof and they send up
prayers in honor of the man whom "God has sent." Now, Skala asks if he will stay on to help with some other chores. Poitier is a little tired of his aimless wanderings and not much convincing is necessary, even though they prevail on him to do a major project--the building of a chapel. Poitier
agrees, as long as they will supply the needed materials. He teams up with Nelson (doing double chores as director and actor), a contractor, and they start to build the chapel. Meanwhile, he donates his small salary back to the nuns to buy food and spends his spare time teaching them how to speak
English. When building materials for the chapel run out, Poitier disappears and the nuns think he's abandoned them, but he returns a few weeks later to complete the job he started for the nuns he has come to love. Now, however, he is finally assisted by the local townspeople who refused to help
him the first time around. On the night before the sanctification of the chapel, Poitier leaves with as little fanfare as when he first arrived. This was a small, low-budget picture that went straight for the heart and succeeded critically as well as financially.
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