|Index||4 reviews in total|
The Lost Man is notable for several things, none of which includes it
being a great example of cinema. Sidney Poitier's future wife, Joanna
Shimkus. co-starred with him in this film. It's notable for being one
of the first films of Poitier where he is trying to buck the system,
rather than fit it. In most of his earlier films, he was always dealing
with the problems of being a black man in a mostly white society, while
living a respectable and useful existence. In this film, he plays a
black revolutionary who is robbing "The Man's" bank in order to finance
his group's activities. This group is a shadowy, seemingly monolithic
entity that remains enigmatic throughout the film.
No one is horrible in this movie. It just doesn't stand up very well. If Poitier's black militant group had been more like the Black Panthers instead of what the Panther would have liked to have been, the movie might seem more of a product of its times. Instead, it comes like a black revolutionary fable. Interesting, but not compelling.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I already saw this film in 1975, when I was only 12 years old. But not entirely, as far as I remember. I was frustrated. I guess that's the movie where Poitier and Shimkus met together. I love this feature, hesitating between crime and social drama. The 1969 period was the best ever to talk about segregation and struggle for black people to get the civic rights. To be on the same scale as the white one. Poitier gives here a very poignant and terrific performance. Yes, it's a touching, heart breaking movie, a real tragedy. I think the director was a black film maker. But I don't consider it as a blaxploitation film, I don't know exactly why. I really can't explain. It looks like a movie made by white producers - Universal Studios - for a black audience.
Continuing to review movies featuring people of color in chronological order for Black History Month, we're now at 1969 when Sidney Poitier-who suffered a backlash from his fans of his race two years before because of his growing popularity among his Caucasian audience-was trying to get with the "black power" movement by making this film about such a group trying to rob a white establishment bank to fund for his "brothers". His performance, among many others of his skin color, isn't bad and the action scenes are pretty exciting. But the story gets a bit muddled when he strikes a romance with a young white social worker named Cathy Ellis (Joanna Shimkus). Knowing him and Ms. Shimkus would eventually get married years later, it's fascinating seeing them being romantic with each other but, really, does she really belong in this picture? As a result, the climax leaves one wondering just who the audience was this picture for. Still, if you're curious enough about Poitier's work in order to watch everything he's been in, The Lost Man is at least worth a look. Among others of color in this film: Al Freeman, Jr. as Dennis Lawrence, Leon Bibb as Eddie Maxie, Beverly Todd as Sally Carter a.k.a Dorothy Starr, Paul Winfield as Orville Turner, Bernie Hamilton as Reggie Page, Dick Anthony Williams as Ronald, Arnold Williams as Terry, Virginia Capers as Theresa, Vonetta McGee as Diane Lawrence, Paulene Myers as Grandma, Lee Weaver as Willie, Doug Johnson as Teddy, and Lincoln Kilpatrick as a minister. By the way, Ms. Todd is from my birthtown of Chicago and she has an interesting throwaway dialogue scene with Poitier about her Dorothy alias when she mentions the late Dorothy Dandridge especially when one knows about Sidney's previous acting stint with her on the film version of Porgy and Bess.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Not that often, it seems, as Beverly Todd's minor character Sally
Carter claims to have named herself after Dorothy Dandridge and asks
Poitier's character if he's a fan. As he starred with Dandridge in
Porgy and Bess, Todd never wonders why the man in her bath tub looks
just like Sidney Poitier, but it's a nice tribute to Dorothy, who had
died just four years previously.
Based on the same source novel as the artistically superior Odd Man Out (1947), this drama sees wholesome Sidney Poitier retooled as conflicted black militant Jason Higgs. Somehow it doesn't quite gel, despite Poitier's considerable thespic skill, as by this stage his general screen persona was too rigidly defined. The upshot is it's a little like watching Lionel Richie sing Fight The Power, or seeing Extremities remade starring Bill - er, well, you get the idea. That said, it's hard to imagine another actor making the character of Higgs so ultimately sympathetic, with his tendency towards reluctant violence.
The film closes the chapter on Poitier's 60s output, just two years on from his commercial peak; only forgettable comedy "For Love Of Ivy" coming between it and him being the biggest draw at the box office. After this, it's largely downhill: patchy Virgil Tibbs sequels, four one-off movies (including the underrated The Wilby Conspiracy), three comedies with Bill Cosby(!) and then retirement. Poitier would of course come back in the 80s for bit parts and then get involved in TV movies... while these comeback films weren't, generally, awful, it's astonishing that both the artistic and commercial appeal of Sidney Poitier could be squandered so drastically.
As a closer to the decade, this isn't a bad one to go out on, possibly scraping in as one of his 15 best movies, if only just. One-time director Robert Alan Aurthur gives a bleak outlook to the exteriors, though the studio work, including the lighting and colour palette, does unfortunately look flat and like the aforementioned TV movies that Sidney would drift into during the 90s. And as excellent a musician as Quincy Jones is, his soundtrack does sometimes seem at odds with the content; or possibly it's just dated in an unappealing way.
Poitier gets some considered lines of dialogue in his lead role, though the near-2 hour runtime is perhaps at least a quarter of an hour overlong, and a romantic subplot with Joanna Shimkus feels artificially grated onto the narrative. Shimkus' involvement is perhaps the most famous element of the picture, as she became Poitier's second wife seven years later. Her input does ultimately lead to a tragic ending, as her love for Poitier's humanised militant elicits an emotional response from the audience, though the more the film turns into a straight thriller, the less vibrant the dialogue.
|External reviews||Plot keywords||Main details|
|Your user reviews||Your vote history|