Sidney Poitier: The Man and His Films

by dgranger | created - 11 Mar 2018 | updated - 28 Jun 2018 | Public

Sidney Poitier, who was born in Miami, Florida, but grew up on Cat Island in The Bahamas, was the first male African American to win the Oscar for Best Actor (as Homer Smith in Lillies of the Field (1963)). He went on to become a director of nine films and producer of three. His early films dealt with race, bigotry, anger, and hatred but he always played those roles as a man of intelligence, dignity and humble pride. In 2002, he received an honorary Oscar “for his extraordinary performances and unique presence on the screen and for representing the industry with dignity, style and intelligence.” If you want to see a list of his awards, honors and nominations, click on the quote.

Which one of his films is your favorite?

Discuss his work here.

P.S. I never knew he did a third film as Virgil Tibbs, “The Organization” (1971). You learn something new every day.

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1. Lilies of the Field (1963)

Unrated | 94 min | Drama

A travelling handyman becomes the answer to the prayers of nuns who wish to build a chapel in the desert.

Director: Ralph Nelson | Stars: Sidney Poitier, Lilia Skala, Lisa Mann, Isa Crino

Votes: 8,867

2. No Way Out (1950)

Passed | 106 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

A black doctor is assigned to treat two white racist suspects who are brothers, and when one dies, it causes tension that could start a race riot.

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz | Stars: Richard Widmark, Linda Darnell, Stephen McNally, Sidney Poitier

Votes: 4,321

We are not talking about the Kevin Costner film of the same name. This is a different movie from that one.

3. In the Heat of the Night (1967)

Not Rated | 110 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

75 Metascore

A black police detective is asked to investigate a murder in a racially hostile southern town.

Director: Norman Jewison | Stars: Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Warren Oates, Lee Grant

Votes: 66,179 | Gross: $24.38M

4. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)

Not Rated | 108 min | Comedy, Drama

63 Metascore

A couple's attitudes are challenged when their daughter introduces them to her African-American fiancé.

Director: Stanley Kramer | Stars: Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn, Katharine Houghton

Votes: 38,441 | Gross: $56.70M

5. The Defiant Ones (1958)

Approved | 96 min | Crime, Drama

69 Metascore

Two escaped convicts chained together, white and black, must learn to get along in order to elude capture.

Director: Stanley Kramer | Stars: Tony Curtis, Sidney Poitier, Theodore Bikel, Charles McGraw

Votes: 13,259

6. A Patch of Blue (1965)

Unrated | 105 min | Drama, Romance

73 Metascore

A blind, uneducated white girl is befriended by a black man, who becomes determined to help her escape her impoverished and abusive home life by introducing her to the outside world.

Director: Guy Green | Stars: Sidney Poitier, Shelley Winters, Elizabeth Hartman, Wallace Ford

Votes: 7,182

7. A Raisin in the Sun (1961)

Approved | 128 min | Drama

87 Metascore

A substantial insurance payment could mean either financial salvation or personal ruin for a poor black family.

Director: Daniel Petrie | Stars: Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeil, Ruby Dee, Diana Sands

Votes: 7,006

8. Blackboard Jungle (1955)

Approved | 101 min | Crime, Drama

67 Metascore

A new English teacher at a violent, unruly inner-city school is determined to do his job, despite resistance from both students and faculty.

Director: Richard Brooks | Stars: Glenn Ford, Anne Francis, Louis Calhern, Margaret Hayes

Votes: 8,033

9. To Sir, with Love (1967)

Approved | 105 min | Drama

55 Metascore

Idealistic engineer-trainee and his experiences in teaching a group of rambunctious white high school students from the slums of London's East End.

Director: James Clavell | Stars: Sidney Poitier, Judy Geeson, Christian Roberts, Suzy Kendall

Votes: 15,367 | Gross: $42.43M

10. Porgy and Bess (1959)

Not Rated | 138 min | Drama, Musical, Romance

A woman whose past is scorned by nearly everyone around her meets a man who'd love her regardlessly- if only everyone else would allow them to.

Directors: Otto Preminger, Rouben Mamoulian | Stars: Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis Jr., Pearl Bailey

Votes: 1,493

11. Sneakers (1992)

PG-13 | 126 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

65 Metascore

A security pro finds his past coming back to haunt him, when he and his unique team are tasked with retrieving a particularly important item.

Director: Phil Alden Robinson | Stars: Robert Redford, Dan Aykroyd, Sidney Poitier, Jo Marr

Votes: 51,355 | Gross: $51.43M

12. Pressure Point (1962)

Not Rated | 91 min | Drama

A black prison psychiatrist is assigned the distasteful task of helping a paranoid American Nazi charged with sedition.

Directors: Hubert Cornfield, Stanley Kramer | Stars: Sidney Poitier, Bobby Darin, Peter Falk, Carl Benton Reid

Votes: 1,292

13. The Slender Thread (1965)

Not Rated | 98 min | Drama

A college volunteer at the crisis phone gets a call from a suicide caller.

Director: Sydney Pollack | Stars: Sidney Poitier, Anne Bancroft, Telly Savalas, Steven Hill

Votes: 1,877

14. Cry, the Beloved Country (1951)

103 min | Drama

In the back country of South Africa, black minister Stephen Kumalo (Canada Lee) journeys to the city to search for his missing son, only to find his people living in squalor and his son a ... See full summary »

Director: Zoltan Korda | Stars: Canada Lee, Sidney Poitier, Charles Carson, Joyce Carey

Votes: 614

15. Edge of the City (1957)

Approved | 85 min | Drama

Two New York City longshoremen Axel Nordmann, an Army deserter and Tommy Tyler, an easy-going freight car loader whose growing friendship is threatened by Charles Malik, a notably repellent punk.

Director: Martin Ritt | Stars: John Cassavetes, Sidney Poitier, Jack Warden, Kathleen Maguire

Votes: 2,461

16. Separate But Equal (1991)

PG | 190 min | Drama, History

A dramatization of the American court case that destroyed the legal validity of racial segregation.

Stars: Sidney Poitier, Burt Lancaster, Richard Kiley, Cleavon Little

Votes: 628

17. Go Man Go (1954)

82 min | Drama, Sport

The story of Abe Saperstein and the creation of the Harlem Globetrotters.

Director: James Wong Howe | Stars: Dane Clark, Patricia Breslin, Sidney Poitier, Anatol Winogradoff

Votes: 107

18. Good-bye, My Lady (1956)

G | 94 min | Drama

An old man and a young boy who live in the southeastern Mississippi swamps are brought together by the love of a dog.

Director: William A. Wellman | Stars: Walter Brennan, Phil Harris, Brandon De Wilde, Sidney Poitier

Votes: 733

19. The Bedford Incident (1965)

Approved | 102 min | Drama, Thriller

An American destroyer Captain is determined to confront a Soviet submarine caught violating territorial waters. Perhaps too determined.

Director: James B. Harris | Stars: Richard Widmark, Sidney Poitier, James MacArthur, Martin Balsam

Votes: 4,588

20. Duel at Diablo (1966)

Approved | 103 min | Drama, Thriller, Western

In Apache territory, a supply Army column heads for the next fort, an ex-scout searches for the killer of his Indian wife, and a housewife abandons her husband in order to rejoin her Apache lover's tribe.

Director: Ralph Nelson | Stars: James Garner, Sidney Poitier, Bibi Andersson, Dennis Weaver

Votes: 2,888

(So shoot me for putting this one in here, but I like westerns.)

21. Buck and the Preacher (1972)

GP | 102 min | Adventure, Drama, Western

A wagon master and a con-man preacher help freed slaves dogged by cheap-labor agents out West.

Directors: Sidney Poitier, Joseph Sargent | Stars: Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Ruby Dee, Cameron Mitchell

Votes: 1,518 | Gross: $3.03M

Starred, directed and was an uncredited producer.

22. A Warm December (1973)

PG | 99 min | Drama, Romance

Dr. Matt Younger and his daughter arrive for a month-long visit to London for dirt-bike racing and unexpectedly, a new romance for the widowed Dr. Younger. His new love interest is the ... See full summary »

Director: Sidney Poitier | Stars: Sidney Poitier, Ester Anderson, Yvette Curtis, George Baker

Votes: 449 | Gross: $0.37M

Starred and directed

23. Brother John (1971)

PG-13 | 95 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

A man who returns to his hometown for a funeral may have a much larger purpose in life than those around him can see.

Director: James Goldstone | Stars: Sidney Poitier, Will Geer, Bradford Dillman, Beverly Todd

Votes: 642

Starred, and produced

24. Uptown Saturday Night (1974)

PG | 104 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

At Madame Zenobia's illegal nightclub, when Steve Jackson and Wardell Franklin get robbed of their wallets containing a winning lottery ticket, they set out to recover it.

Director: Sidney Poitier | Stars: Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, Harry Belafonte, Flip Wilson

Votes: 1,960

Starred, directed, and produced

25. Let's Do It Again (1975)

PG | 110 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

Two Atlanta men raise funds for their charity by rigging boxing matches in New Orleans, but their tricks attract the mob's attention.

Director: Sidney Poitier | Stars: Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, Calvin Lockhart, John Amos

Votes: 2,718

Starred and directed

26. A Piece of the Action (1977)

PG | 135 min | Crime, Comedy

Dave Anderson and Manny Durrell are two high-class sneak thieves who have never been caught. Joshua Burke is a retired detective who has enough evidence on the both of them to put them ... See full summary »

Director: Sidney Poitier | Stars: Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, James Earl Jones, Denise Nicholas

Votes: 1,035

Starred and directed

27. The Jackal (1997)

R | 124 min | Action, Crime, Drama

36 Metascore

An imprisoned I.R.A. fighter is freed to help stop a brutal, seemingly "faceless" assassin from completing his next job.

Director: Michael Caton-Jones | Stars: Bruce Willis, Richard Gere, Sidney Poitier, Diane Venora

Votes: 104,859 | Gross: $54.93M

28. Shoot to Kill (1988)

R | 110 min | Action, Adventure, Crime

An F.B.I. Agent teams up with a tracker to pursue a murderer after he vanishes into the mountains and infiltrates a hiking group.

Director: Roger Spottiswoode | Stars: Sidney Poitier, Tom Berenger, Kirstie Alley, Clancy Brown

Votes: 11,441 | Gross: $29.30M

29. Stir Crazy (1980)

R | 111 min | Comedy, Crime

56 Metascore

Set up and wrongfully accused, two best friends will be sent to prison for a crime they didn't commit. However, no prison cell could keep them locked in.

Director: Sidney Poitier | Stars: Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor, Georg Stanford Brown, JoBeth Williams

Votes: 24,815 | Gross: $101.30M

Directed only

30. Free of Eden (1998 TV Movie)

TV-MA | 98 min | Drama

A black girl seeks a tutor, hoping a good education will help her escape from poor housing projects.

Director: Leon Ichaso | Stars: Sidney Poitier, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Phylicia Rashad, Robert Hooks

Votes: 265

Starred and produced

31. The Last Brickmaker in America (2001 TV Movie)

PG | 85 min | Drama

A man must cope with the loss of his wife and the obsolescence of his job before finding redemption by becoming a role model to an equally lost thirteen-year-old.

Director: Gregg Champion | Stars: Sidney Poitier, Cody Newton, Piper Laurie, Jay O. Sanders

Votes: 482

32. Paris Blues (1961)

Approved | 98 min | Drama, Music, Romance

61 Metascore

During the 1960s, two American expatriate jazz musicians living in Paris meet and fall in love with two American tourist girls.

Director: Martin Ritt | Stars: Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Sidney Poitier, Louis Armstrong

Votes: 2,651



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