The Black Kino Fist: Black life as depicted in film history

A Patch of Blue (1965)

"After becoming the first African-American performer to win a Best Actor Oscar®, for his performance in Lilies of the Field (1963), Sidney Poitier had emerged as such a box-office force that MGM's Pandro S. Berman declared he would produce A Patch of Blue (1965) only if Poitier agreed to play the leading role. Based on a novel by Australian novelist Elizabeth Kata, the script told of a friendship between a black man and a young white woman who has been blinded by her sadistic, bigoted mother and is therefore unaware that her new friend is of a different race.
Shelley Winters, cast as the monstrous mother, said in interviews that it was very difficult for her to speak the racial epithets used by her character in A Patch of Blue. "I've always found something to like in the characters I've played, but not this time," she said. "I really hate this woman." Despite her animosity toward the part, Winters won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar® for her shrewish performance. The film also was nominated in the categories of Best Actress (Hartman), Art Direction/Set Decoration, Black and White Cinematography and Original Score. Although neglected this time by Oscar, Poitier won a nomination for a British Academy Award as Best Foreign Actor.
A Patch of Blue proved a box-office winner, even in the South. In Atlanta, its first two weeks' grosses broke a record held by Gone With the Wind (1939). Old taboos still held, though; a modest, eight-second kiss between the leading characters was cut for Southern audiences. Poitier, meanwhile, had become frustrated by the limitations imposed upon his screen romances: "Either there were no women or there was a woman, but she was blind, or the relationship was of a nature that satisfied the taboos. I was at my wit's end when I finished A Patch of Blue.""
- Roger Fristoe for TCM
Status: Available for purchase
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