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Why Sidney Poitier’s ‘Stir Crazy’ Is Still the Most Successful Movie Ever Made By a Black Director

12 May 2017 9:45 AM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

In the history of black filmmaking, “Stir Crazy” is rarely cited as a groundbreaker or an enduring high point. However, Sidney Poitier’s 1980 comedy sold more tickets in North America than “The Fate of the Furious,” or any other film by a black director.

Poitier’s career has included multiple breakout moments. He was the first black lead acting Oscar winner with “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner;” he starred in two blockbuster films in 1967 with “To Sir With Love” (over $300 million, adjusted gross) and “In the Heat of the Night” ($177 million, adjusted gross). He was, more than even Denzel Washington or any other black actor-turned-director, an icon of cinema when he made “Stir Crazy.” And it was this film, more than any other, that found access to all domestic audiences.

That said, it’s a film that doesn’t have the resonance of other historical blockbusters like “Gone With the Wind, »

- Tom Brueggemann

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