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Having finished a tour of duty in the army, Homer returns to the chapel which, years before, he helped to build. Once again, he is inspired by the nuns' faith and selfless devotion, and ... See full summary »
Billy Dee Williams,
Homer Smith, an unemployed construction worker, heading out west stops at a remote farm in the desert to get water when his car overheats. The farm is being worked by a group of East European Catholic nuns, headed by the strict Mother Maria, who believes that Homer has been sent by God to build a much needed church in the desert... Written by
Christopher J. Thompson <email@example.com>
The film was shot on Linda Ronstadt's father's small ranch. There was no art director, but the Property Master, Robert Eaton, actually supervised the construction of the chapel, adjacent to existing ranch buildings. The interiors of the Nun's abode were filmed in these buildings. Robert Eaton rented a prop organ, furniture, and other set dressing and hand props from the Hollywood Cinema Mercantile Property House, located on Santa Monica Blvd near Paramount Studios. Eaton drove a rental truck carrying all the props to Arizona for the shoot, returning all the props after the film's completion. Watching the main Nun's interior abode, the prop organ stands against one wall, with a painting hanging on an adjacent wall. There is absolutely no continuity in where the prop table and chairs, related organ and hanging picture belong. The props are choreographed to the actors' motivation or movement in each scene. In the summer of 1979, Ralph Nelson was the principle motivation in directing a NBC TV MOW "Christmas Lillies of the Field" featuring Billy De Williams (Homer Smith) and Maria Schell (Mother Maria). The film was planned as a pilot for a mid-season 1979-1980 series replacement which was to be based at the Provo, Utah, Osmond Family Television Studio Production facility. The Chapel and Nun's quarters were built on State owned land 75 miles from the studio. The production planned to use this location for the series, filming additional locations in the Salt Lake area. Ralph Nelson would produce and direct the TV series "Lillies of the Field". The December 29th, 1979, MOW's slim viewer ratings resulted in cancellation of any further series development. See more »
After Homer Smith leaves the nuns the first time, they have to walk to Mass - apparently a fair distance. When he returns, he picks them up in his car as they are walking to Mass but they still arrive just as Mass is beginning. They should have arrived much earlier as they thought they were walking the entire distance. See more »
I cannot see further and I cannot believe further.
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At the end of the film, the word "Amen" is seen, rather than "The End". See more »
If someone were to ask me for the 'perfect' movie, this is the one I would choose. Not 'greatest', not 'best', but something better... an utterly flawless film. It's lean and spare, set in the desert and filmed in B&W. Both the humor and the drama are low-key, but are all the more moving for that, presented without clutter. It uses a small cast to create a rich diversity of characters from different religions, races, and cultures. But these differences aren't what creates the drama, they are simply a wonderful part of the background texture. The conflict lies purely in the clash of personalities between two good people, Homer Smith (Sidney Poitier) and Mother Maria (Lilia Skala), both with their own personal flaws and virtues.
I really can't begin to describe how much I like "Lilies of the Field". It could have been one of those awful preachy 'message' films, but it isn't. It is purely fine story telling. Which isn't to say you can't find meaning in it. Far from it. For me, I've always been taken by how the common human goodness of all the characters is brought out without being dependent on, or sacrificing, their many differences of religion or culture. They remain the same people at the end of the movie as at the beginning, except they're all a bit better, a bit less flawed. And that's pretty close to perfection.
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