Lilies of the Field [1963]

Sidney Poitier won an Oscar for this endearing movie about a handyman who thinks he's just passing through a little town in New Mexico, and ends up staying awhile to build a chapel for a cluster of German-speaking nuns. The renowned actor is highly entertaining in his combative exchanges with Lilia Skala, playing a Mother Superior who survived Hitler and makes no bones about bullying the goodhearted, itinerant worker into doing more and more for her. The film has an ambling, easygoing style with several memorable moments, not least of all is Poitier leading his holy hostesses through verses of the gospel song "Amen." Lilies is directed by the late Ralph Nelson, a pioneering director of live television who also made a number of popular feature films with notable performances (Jackie Gleason in Requiem for a Heavyweight, Cary Grant in Father Goose, Cliff Robertson in Charly) in the 1960s and 1970s. --Tom Keogh

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