Lilies of the Field (1963)

Lilies of the Field
Directed by Ralph Nelson
Written by James Poe from a novel by William E. Barret
1963/USA
Rainbow Productions
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental

 

Mother Maria: [upon first meeting Homer] God is good. He has sent me a big strong man.

Here’s another one I saw in my youth.  I still love the humor and Sidney Portier’s performance.

Homer Smith (Portier) is driving through the desert when his car overheats.  The nearest civilization is a small convent run with an iron hand by Mother Maria (Lilia Scala).  The nuns escaped East Germany in order to reach America and this dry property that had been left to them.  Mother Maria’s dream has been to build a chapel – the parish is currently served by a priest who conducts mass from the back of a trailer.  She sees Homer as the answer to her prayers.  He wants to keep moving on, then agrees to work for hire for a few days.  Mother Maria has no money to pay him but is not about to get let him get away.

Bit by bit the Baptist Homer is lured into building the chapel and a community of workers forms around him.  His affability wins him friends with everyone except Mother Maria.  She insists on seeing everything he does as the will of God.

This is a simple story, full of heart  If you are looking for a feel good movie look no farther.

Sidney Portier won the Oscar for Best Actor.  The film was nominated for Academy Awards in the categories of Best Picture; Best Actress (Lilia Scala); Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium; and Best Cinematography, Black-and-White.