Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sidney Poitier and Friends

I was thinking about how big the cast has become on most newer movies, after looking at the cast of National Treasure and Sleepless in Seattle.  I went back to 1963 and looked at Lilies of the Field with Sidney Poitier and Lilia Skala.  What an incredibly good movie, and the cast only includes nine people.  It won an Oscar for best actor and had four other nominations.  It was even filmed in black and white.  Sometimes simplicity is better, and probably a lot less expensive.  The entire filming only took two weeks.

An uncredited bit part went to Ralph Nelson as the construction company owner, Mr. Ashton.  He owned more than the construction company...he directed the picture!

The priest was played by Dan Frazer who you will recognize instantly in so many TV and movie roles.  Most notably as Capt. Frank McNeil on "Kojak."  I can still hear Telly Savalas yelling, "Oh c'mon, Frank!"  He was also in Deconstructing Harry (1997) with Woody Allen.  Now in his eighties, he appears to be still acting as of 2009.

Of course, everybody loved Juan the short order cook.  Juan was played by Stanley Adams who has 189 roles to his credit on IMBD.  Stanley played in all of my favorite TV shows as a guest star.  He was in "Cheyenne," "Maverick," "Peter Gunn," "The Rifleman," "Have Gun Will Travel," "The Red Skelton Show," "Bonanza," "The Addams Family," "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "Gunsmoke," and the most popular episode on the original "Star Trek" series, "The Trouble with Tribbles," where he played Cyrano Jones.  I told you I watched a lot of TV!

Adams played Rusty Trawler in Breakfast at Tiffany's with Audrey Hepburn.  I thought that was a good movie, but a lot is missing from the short story.  He also appeared in "Death of a Salesman" on TV with Lee J. Cobb.

It is funny that the four nuns never amounted to much in their acting careers.  Three of them only had 3 or 4 roles, and Francesca Jarvis had about 20.  Only Mother Maria, played by Lilia Scala, had a successful acting life.

When a simple movie like this can be so inspiring and enjoyable, I sometimes wonder if we have lost the ability  to make them like this.  Maybe there is too much reliance on computers now.  But then again, blockbusters like Avatar and the Star Wars series will always be hits.

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