Saturday, February 4, 2012

Film Review: A Patch of Blue (1965)

One of Sidney's greatest; one of film
history's greatest.
Photo Courtesy of
     TCMDb: A blind white girl falls in love with a black man.

     One would probably think that after forty-seven years, this film wouldn't be as powerful as it once was. Yet, it is. Though it is much more common to see interracial couples today, it is still, to some, abhorrent and something that should not be allowed. Even if that wasn't the case, however, this almost entirely forgotten film today would still be powerful. It's power would be the beauty in which the film has a plethora of, the message that true love is indeed blind.
     I first saw this film about three years ago, which is about a year before I got into the classics heavily. I was down at my father's, searching for something to watch, when I came across this. It hadn't yet come on, but I saw what it was about, and it immediately had me. I just had to watch it.
     And so I did. It was my misfortune, however, that it began to storm during about the time I reached the middle of the film, and as storms are apt to do, I lost the signal, and was unable to finish it. God, I was miserable. I had to finish watching it. I had to know what happened. I kept hoping that the storm would quit even if it was just long enough for me to see the last five minutes. I was not so lucky. As soon as the storm ended, and I found that the film was over, I quickly went to youtube. You can find anything on there, and I was hoping that I would be so lucky as to find it. I did.
     This film was my introduction to Sidney Poitier. Oh, I knew who he was, I had seen him once or twice before, but this was my first full length Sidney Poitier film, and I immediately liked him. I liked his soft voice, his easy way on screen, his laugh, and I loved how he was so kind to the girl, Selina D'Arcey, played by the tragic Elizabeth Hartman.
Sidney Poitier & Elizabeth Hartman in A Patch of Blue
Selina and Gordon
Photo Courtesy of
     A Patch of Blue is one of the rare films that, throughout the entirety of the picture, had me aching. I felt the pain and humiliation that Selina had to deal with her mother Rose-Ann, played by the brilliant Shelley Winters. Then when Sidney's character, Gordon Ralfe, was introduced into the film, I felt the connection between the two: First, the camaraderie, the friendship. Second, the love that developed between the two. I felt Gordon's desire to teach, for Selina to learn, and I felt Selina's desire to be taught.
    As much beauty as there is in A Patch of Blue there is also an equal amount of pain, hatred. Shelley Winters, who played Elizabeth Hartman's mother, Rose-Ann, is one of the most despicable human beings ever to be portrayed on screen. The most harrowing part of it all is that as you watch her, you know, if not at the forefront of your mind, in the back of your mind that people such as Rose-Ann actually exist in the world, now more than ever before. Shelley Winters is quoted of saying that she hated playing Rose-Ann. Winters herself wasn't a racist, and so it was hard for her to play such a woman as Rose-Ann, who in all blatant honesty, is nothing more than white trash. Winters would go on to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Rose-Ann D'Arcey.
Sidney Poitier, Shelley Winters & Elizabeth Hartman in A Patch of Blue
Rose-Ann finds out about Gordon.
Photo Courtesy of
    In my personal opinion, while I very much think that Sidney deserved the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Lilies of the Field, I also very much think he should have won for his role as Gordon Ralfe; yet, he wasn't even nominated for Best Actor. I'm not knocking Lee Marvin for Cat Ballou, I can't because I've never seen it, but I think that by not even nominating Poitier was one of the biggest slights ever made by the Academy. I also think that Elizabeth Hartman should have won the Academy for Best Actress instead of Julie Christie for Darling. Again, I'm not knocking Julie Christie, but I mean, really . . . ? (Or, if Hartman couldn't have won straight out, there could have been a tie between she and Julie Andrews for The Sound of Music.)
"Kiss me, Gordon . . ."
Photo Courtesy of
      A Patch of Blue is the first film to show a kiss between a black man and a white woman. Every time I watch this scene, I can't help but go, "Aww . . ." because, really, is one of the most tender, sweetest scenes of all film history. I think the reason why this is made so is because Selina, Hartman's character, is the one to initiate the kiss. Sidney doesn't move until the kiss is over and they are just embracing. The camera pans over Hartman's shoulder and gives a close up of Sidney's face . . . and everything that his character had been growing to feel is there on his face. It's beautiful.
     When I finally was able to watch the whole film, and I got to the ending, I wanted to cry. It didn't end the way I expected it to end, and I was disappointed, but then later, when I had time to think, I realized that it was the perfect ending to a perfect film. I'm not going to give the ending away, but I will tell you that it is one that will give you hope.
     I would recommend this film to anybody and everybody. It's timeless. It's beautiful. It's meaningful. It's heart-rendering. It's a film that you will remember, and it is one that you will want to see again. It's one that you will want to share with that someone that means something to you.
     If you haven't already guessed by now, I give A Patch of Blue a 4/4 overall score. I've made it one of my Sidney Essentials, I'd recommend that you make it one of your essentials period.


Reel Popcorn Junkie said...

A Patch of Blue is an incredible film and deserves to be widely seen. The relationship between Winters and Hartman reminds me of a similar dysfunctional pairing of mother and daughter in Precious. It's horrible. A Patch of Blue shows the importance of helping and not being blind to someone else because of their skin colour or disability.

Greg Winterburn said...

I saw "A Patch of Blue" at a drive in theature in 1965. I was 17 years old. It is simply one of the best movies every made! After fifty years of movies, "A Patch of Blue" is still toward the top of my top ten list of must see, must experience, must share with others! You won't regret buying this movie and if you do, you will watch it over and over again. It is one of the most touching love stories but more than that it is a story of loving someone unselfishly. If you don't cry in this movie you have no heart. There are moments of grief, torment, sadness, and despair. There are also moments of hope, joy, newness, freshness, love, and caring like no other film I have ever seen.