Analysis: Sidney Poitier leaves behind many landmark roles, but also some smaller gems

A rich film collection compiled by Poitier, he Died Thursday at 94, making it difficult to choose a favorite movie or character. On a different day, that could be “Porgy and Bess”; “Raisins in the Sun,” reprising his role on the show about a struggling Chicago family; or “Rebels” , which earned him his first Best Actor Oscar nomination for his role with Tony Curtis as the Southern Paranoid Runaway. (In a busy year, Curtis and Poitier and Spencer Tracy and Paul Newman were all nominated, but David Niven was nominated for “Independent Tables.”)

These films have only scratched the surface of half a century of screen work, paving the way for other performers of color—a burden the actor shoulders with considerable grace despite the challenges and limitations he faces.

as Tim Gray of Variety points out Decades at the height of Poitier’s career, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on intermarriage law in Loving v. Virginia came a few months before “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” “While the message of tolerance in Guess Who’s Coming may seem dated,” he wrote, “it was an eye-opener for many.”

Still, there are other movies and TV miniseries that can be added to any Poitier watch list, resulting in an absolutely comprehensive list of additional recommendations — in chronological order — that may not have been so in the original memorial and tribute mention prominently.

Chalkboard Jungle (1955): Poitiers played a student in a harsh school full of juvenile delinquents before he stunned audiences in British classrooms as a teacher for more than a dozen years. Here, Glenn Ford plays the teacher trying to break through with the kids, while Vic Morrow is the worst bad apple.

city ​​fringe (1956): Poitiers and John Cassavetes as the two dockworker sidekicks and Jack Worden as a true villain elevate director Martin Ritter’s film. Like many important roles for black actors during this period, Poitiers’ character arc exists largely to expose his co-stars to moral dilemmas.

a piece of blue (1965): Poitiers stars with Elizabeth Hartman as a blind woman with whom he befriends (the title describes her last memory of sight), and Shelley Winters as the world One of the worst mothers ever won an Oscar.

They call me Mr. Tibbs! (1970) and the organization (1971): In In the Heat of the Night.

buck and missionary (1972) and saturday night residential area (1974) and ): Poitiers not only starred but directed both, in Westerns with Harry Belafonte and Bill Cosby in Light Comedy Action Cars Playing opponents, it’s enough to produce a pair of re-collaborations with Cosby, appropriately titled “Let’s Do It Again” and “Part of the Action.” His behind-the-scenes work also includes directing Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor’s prison comedy “Stir Madness.”

separate but equal (1991): Turning to TV, Poitier plays future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in this ABC miniseries Brown v. Board of Education In the 1954 case, Bert Lancaster also played his last role.

sports shoes (1992): A one-off but very entertaining caper movie with an excellent cast that includes Poitier and Robert Redford as part of an elite security team. One of several if not particularly important entertainment films at the end of his career, including “Gunshot” and “Little Nikita.”

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