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A Patch of Blue More at IMDbPro »

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54 out of 59 people found the following review useful:

Simply Blows Away the Best Actress Competition

Author: aimless-46 from Kentucky
22 March 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It took me almost 40 years to finally see "A Patch of Blue". It was promoted as the kind of trendy, raise your social consciousness movie that I avoid like the plague. The mid-sixties was full of this kind of moralizing political stuff, as the country finally began to wake up to the embarrassing social inequities and the hypocrisy that hung over everything like a cloud of poison gas. The older half of the baby boomer generation was beginning to question the fear and hate of their parents, and Hollywood was beginning to discover that this had exploitation potential. Most of these things were moronic at the time and have not improved with age.

Ironically, what led to my finally viewing this film was watching Catherine Deneuve in another film from 1965; Polanski's "Repulsion". Writing a review of that film I lamented the failure of the Academy to nominate Deneuve for Best Actress and Polanski for Best Director. Whatever was thought then about the films and performances actually nominated, in retrospect they pale in comparison to "Repulsion". No one even gives a thought anymore to "Darling" or "Ship of Fools", "Doctor Zhivago" is more big that it is good, and Julie Andrews was great in a very weak movie (but decent musical). While "A Thousand Clowns" and "The Collector"-with Samantha Eggar, are good cult films, they are easy to dismiss.

But when I got to Elizabeth Hartman's nomination for "A Patch of Blue" I realized that I knew very little about her or the performance, having dismissed it as just a reprise of Patty Duke's performance in "The Miracle Worker". I became more intrigued when I discovered that Hartman was the actress who blew me away in "The Beguiled", so I picked up a copy of the 2.35x1 aspect ratio DVD of "Patch of Blue". I was surprised to find that a film with the name of a color in its title had been shot in black and white. And for anyone thinking about getting this DVD, it was transferred to DVD from one of the cleanest prints (or maybe from the original MGM negative)I have ever seen-the detail and contrasts are as good as they must have been when it was first printed 40 years ago.

After seeing "Patch of Blue" I still made my case for "Repulsion", but qualified it by saying only Hartman's performance was in the same class as that of Deneuve. Which was quite a concession for me but both performances are truly wonderful.

As for "Patch of Blue", I found it absolutely amazing-close to perfection. There were so many places where Guy Green could have screwed it up and he neatly avoided them all.

The director is presented with a real problem when deciding how to film an actor playing a blind person. Tight shots on the eyes are what makes acting for the camera so special. Unfortunately the unfocused eyes of a blind person cannot convey much emotion, in fact anything but a blank stare betrays the blind illusion. So Guy Green had to get a verbal and body language performance out Hartman that compensated for not being able to use tight shots, and Hartman had to work at not just playing a complex character but also at maintaining the illusion that she was blind. All her scenes are excellent but she has three that are especially memorable.

The first is at the kitchen table where she casually discusses being raped with Gordon. Her matter-of-fact narration plays perfectly with Poitier's horrified reaction (which of course she can't see).

The second is after a stranger has helped her back to the apartment from her terrifying failed attempt to find the park by herself. In a few minutes she ranges from despair so deep it verges on madness, to extreme gratitude toward the boy who brings her a message, to giddy joy at the realization that Gordon cares enough about her to send someone to see what has happened to her. Hartman plays all parts of the scene convincingly-I wonder if they shot it all the same day or if Green shot each sequence separately.

The third scene (and my personal favorite) is when she is alone in the park and it starts to rain. If someone told me of the challenges posed by this scene, I would not have given it much chance of success, yet Green pulls it off and Hartman is absolutely believable. The is the scene where you first really connect to Selena's fear and isolation, because by this time you know and identify with the character. Absolutely amazing.

Here is a little Elizabeth Hartman trivia. After Patty Duke turned down the role because of type-casting concerns and Hayley Mills for financial reasons (what a disaster that would have been), they tested 150 unknowns and choose the 22 year old Hartman. "I believe I was lacking the things they wanted an actress to lack," Hartman told Sidney Skolsky when he made her the subject of one of his "Tintypes" profiles. After meeting her Slolsky said: "She is shy, timid. She sleeps in a normal-size bed in sleeveless nightgowns. She always takes her Raggedy-Ann doll to bed with her." Prior to Oscar night Hartman, who still lived in Youngstown with her mother, commented "I'm just waiting for someone to offer me a part in a picture or a play. I'm climbing the walls, as a matter of fact". MGM did not use her picture in their Oscar ads for her but used a sight gag, a pair of sunglasses in a Price Waterhouse envelope.

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36 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

A Patch of Excellence.

Author: tfrizzell from United States
26 July 2002

One of those genuinely moving and emotional films that toes the line to excellence and almost succeeds. Young Elizabeth Hartman (Oscar-nominated) is blind and has been a part of a household where she has been treated like a second-rate stranger and outcast by her cold mother (Shelley Winters is a smashing Oscar-winning turn). One day Hartman meets professional businessman Sidney Poitier in the local park and they become quick friends as Hartman is treated with love and respect by Poitier while Hartman's handicap means she does not know that Poitier is really African-American. Two pure hearts are able to overcome the cruelty of others in this fine American motion picture that is well worth one's time. It is one of the better films of the 1960s. Sidney Poitier was at the top of his career here. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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38 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

Not Enough Shelley Winters!

Author: bregund from San Francisco
24 October 2004

Shelley Winters's platinum-haired, overweight, foul-mouthed Roseanne D'arcy is as much fun to watch as her pouty, midwestern Charlotte Haze in Lolita. As sharp and horrible as a root canal, she marches around the tiny apartment she shares with her daughter and father, ordering Selina about like an indentured servant: "Where's my dinner?" she bellows like a foghorn. Classic. The fight scene between she and her father is not to be missed, as the one-liners fly back and forth like knives. When the neighbors try to intervene, Shelley launches into them like the assault on Normandy, gleefully turning husband against wife.

Sidney Poitier is wonderful as always, as Gordon. As an actor, Poitier can do no wrong; he glides into the room with that curious mixture of animal magnetism and precise diction, sizing up a situation with the efficiency of an accountant. His Gordon Ralfe is realistic and fatherly toward Selina, even as he tries to ignore the underlying romantic tension between Selina and himself.

Elizabeth Hartman's Selina is so fragile that she looks as though she will break any moment. I have a hunch that much of her excellent performance is mined from her real-life depression, if her IMDb biography is accurate.

This is an excellent film, and highly recommended.

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38 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

A great film...touching and thought provoking

Author: EmAn1213
4 May 2004

"A Patch of Blue" is a wonderful film which works on at least two levels: a romance and a social commentary. Unlike most romances, it manages to be touching without being melodramatic, and unlike most social commentaries, it subtly makes its points without manipulation or a hidden agenda.

It is the story of how Selina, a blind girl who is verbally and sometimes physically abused by her mother, discovers her independence with the help of a young, black professional, Gordon. Selina's entire life has been spent alone and indoors. She has not learned how to read Braille or how to get around on her own. She basically does not know how to live independently. She meets Gordon in the park one day, and he essentially begins to teach her how to live. A warm and trusting friendship develops. The obvious complication from their relationship is the fact that Selina's mother is a racist, and Selina does not know that Gordon is black.

Both characters are wonderful: Gordon is cautious but intrigued, knowing he is walking on dangerous ground. Selina is comically naive and eager with an unbreakable spirit.

If you get a chance, watch this movie! It is inspiring and is one of those rare films that actually makes you think.

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27 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Very emotional

Author: sugar-bear from Anywhere
29 November 2004

I love this movie so much. I bought the DVD and I can't seem to stop watching it. The acting by the superb cast and the plot is what makes this movie stand out from many other good movies. Guy Green did an awesome job picking the cast.

SIDNEY POITIER:Sidney does a great job as Gordon Ralfe. An African-American business man who lives with his brother, Mark and tries to live an ordinary life. He is also a compassionate man who has a giving heart and doesn't judge everyone.

ELIZABETH HARTMAN:I think Elizabeth Hartman's performance is what makes me want to keep watching it over and over again. Hartman plays soft spoken Selina D'Arcy. Accidentally blinded as a child, Selina learns how to deal with life despite having not been taught very much. Selina only knows how to do the house chores and is used to the constant abuse by her mother and grandfather which whom she lives with. Selina is as fragile and naive as a small child. Although blind, Selina doesn't let that get in the way. Visits to the park and her small job of beading necklaces are how she and Gordon(Poitier)actually meet. Hartman's performance is the rare gem of it all.

SHELLY WINTERS:I didn't really like Winters in this role. But because she played it so well....I can say that I liked it. Winters plays Rose-Ann D'Arcy, a middle aged, foul mouthed prostitute who's also Selina's mother. It is her fault that Selina is blind. Her fault that Selina was raped and her fault that life is the way it is for Selina. But Rose-Ann doesn't care about anyone but herself. She bad mouths her own father and physically abuses Selina. She has a short temper and makes money the best way she knows how. She apparently makes life a living hell for almost everyone.

The love Selina has for Gordon is as pure and heart warming as true love can get. I don't normally like romance movies but this movie is far from that. It's a story of the love two people from different worlds have for each other and let nothing get in the way. I LOVE IT!!!

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20 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Color blind

Author: jotix100 from New York
26 January 2006

"A Patch of Blue" was perhaps the best film in which Elizabeth Hartman appeared. In fact, this was the movie in which the young actress made her movie debut. Guy Green, the director, took quite a chance when he entrusted Ms. Hartman to play such an important role. Unfortunately, her career didn't do much for her as it appears Hollywood forgot her and she was relegated to do television work. In fact, Ms. Hartman only made six full length movies, when she deserved to have been seen more.

The story of "A Patch of Blue" is about how blind we humans are. Yes, Selina is blind, but she sees people as they really are. This abused young woman is more intelligent than she is given credit for. She might not have the use of her eyesight, yet she recognizes kindness when it comes her way without making judgment on the only true friend she encounters in her life.

Gordon, the nice black man who stumbles upon Selina in the park, is amazed how no one has ever paid attention to her. Clearly, he sees the potential the young woman possesses and he is determined to help her in whatever way he can. Selina, on the other hand, couldn't care less what color Gordon is because she has seen beauty in the way he tries to give her the chance in life her own mother didn't bother to get.

Rose-Ann, the mother is only interested in her own needs. She is a sad woman who is saddled by a daughter that she sees as a burden, yet, she is the one that caused the blindness because of her careless actions. Rose-Ann is a prejudiced woman who judges Gordon too quickly without even investigating how he is trying to help Selina.

The film will not disappoint. Ms. Hartman did an excellent contribution to a film despite her inexperience. Sidney Poitier made a sympathetic Gordon real. Shelley Winters, who won the Oscar for this film doesn't have much to do, and even though she does good work, one has to be leery of those Academy members that voted her the best supporting actress of that year when she deserved accolades for many other excellent contributions to films she did before this one.

"A Patch of Blue" owes a great deal to its director, Guy Green, who fought to make the film and for having Elizabeth Hartman in it.

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18 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

A beautiful heartbreaker

Author: lauraeileen894 from United States
13 August 2002

I recently saw "A Patch of Blue" and simply had to comment on it. This beautiful, intelligent, heartbreaking film tells the story of Selina (Elizabeth Hartman), a young blind woman who is isolated from the outside world by her vulgar, abusive mother (Shelley Winters, who won her second Oscar for this role). Selina is naive and rather complacent about her dark, lonely world, until she meets a compassionate businessman named Gordon (the always magnificent Sidney Poitier). Gordon shows Selina exciting experiences in the real world which we normally take for granted, such as pineapple juice and a fun trip to the supermarket. Selina sees Gordon as smart, kind, caring, and tolerant (an important word in the movie), but sadly, all others can see is the fact that Gordon is black. Can love conquer all, or will cold, hard reality plummet these two back to earth? I don't think I've ever seen actors so effortlessly handle material that is normally seen as sentimental and sappy, even though it can and WILL make you cry. What makes the film more tragic today is that Elizabeth Hartman took her own life at the age of just 43. The ending is a true heartbreaker, but it also leaves you with an optimistic feeling for Selina and Gordon's futures. In his autobiography, Sidney Poitier admits that of all his films, "A Patch of Blue" holds a unique and special place in his heart. It touched him that much, and it will do the same for you. Please have some Kleenex handy and let yourself see "A Patch of Blue".

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18 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Sensitive portrayal by Elizabeth Hartman

Author: spompermayer from San Francisco
31 October 2000

A very well-cast film version of Elizabeth Kata's novel. Jerry Goldsmith's score blends beautifully with the film's poignancy. Outstanding debut by the late Elizabeth Hartman; she is unforgettable as the blind Selina D'Arcy. Poitier is terrific as the insightful Gordon, and Shelley Winters gives a blistering portrayal as Selina's abusive, bigoted mother (Winters won Best Supporting Oscar).

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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful, wonderful performances

Author: mark-506 from LA, CA
13 September 1999

What a surprise. It had been a long time since I saw such an honest, sensitively-made film, and it really brings to mind that old statement "They don't make 'em like they used to." How refreshing to see a film that handles potentially mawkish, TV movie-of-the-week style material (blind white girl falls in love with sighted black man) with sophistication, grace and lack of sentimentality. These are real humans that emerge out of the script, and the central performances of Sidney Poitier and the sadly forgotten Elizabeth Hartman take the tender screenplay and deliver beautiful, deeply touching performances. It is, simply put, a joy to watch them perform together.

Credit must also be given to a young Jerry Goldsmith's sweet, delicate score, and Robert Burks' (Hitchcock's favorite DP) rich black and white cinematography. Almost impossible to find in its original widescreen format, still very worthwhile rental material.

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Excellent Movie... One of My Favorites

Author: vs661966 from Scranton, PA
23 January 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I just saw this again on TCM tonight. It's one of my favorite movies (if not THE favorite) and I never tire of watching it.

Elizabeth Hartman should have won the Oscar for her role as Selina D'Arcy. Sidney Poitier is excellent, as usual, in the role of Gordon Ralfe. Shelley Winters portrays Rose-Ann D'Arcy, Selina's mother, who is such a white-trash evil slut. Ms. Winters' portrayal makes you HATE Rose-Ann... you just want to smack her! Wallace Ford plays Ole Pa, Rose-Ann's drunken father. Ivan Dixon plays Mark Ralfe, Gordon's brother. Elisabeth Frasier plays Sadie, Rose-Ann's white-trash slut friend.

It's great to see the friendship and love develop between Selina and Gordon as well as Selina's growing strength and independence due to Gordon's involvement in her life.

***Movie Ending Spoiler***

Gordon helps locate a school for the blind for Selina. They are in his apartment when the driver comes to take Selina to the school. Gordon asks Selina if she wants him to escort her and the driver to the awaiting bus, but she says no because she doesn't want to have to say goodbye again. After she leaves he notices the music box he gave to her (it belonged to Gordon's mother) and he tries to reach her before the bus pulls away, but he's too late. He then goes back into his apartment building with the music box. The ending is bittersweet in that the viewer knows that Selina will now have the chance at a better life. There's also the hope that Gordon will visit Selina and give her the music box and, more important, that perhaps they will continue to see each other and possibly marry someday. The ending is realistic and not a true "happy ending" where everything is neatly tied up.

For me, this movie also has such a special place in my heart because actress Elizabeth Hartman herself apparently was a tortured, sensitive soul (having dealt with depression and then committing suicide in 1987). It's so sad and tragic, especially since she was such a gifted actress. She could have made many more movies. I think her performances, but especially this role, always touch viewers in a special way. Her sensitive, naive and endearing portrayal of Selina make this movie special.

A Patch of Blue is a true gem. There's no other movie like it! 10/10 Stars.

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