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Lilies of the Field (1963)

Unrated | | Drama | 5 July 1963 (West Germany)
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A travelling handyman becomes the answer to the prayers of nuns who wish to build a chapel in the desert.

Director:

Ralph Nelson

Writers:

James Poe (screenplay), William E. Barrett (novel)
Reviews
Won 1 Oscar. Another 10 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Sidney Poitier ... Homer Smith
Lilia Skala ... Mother Maria
Lisa Mann Lisa Mann ... Sister Gertrude
Isa Crino Isa Crino ... Sister Agnes
Francesca Jarvis ... Sister Albertine
Pamela Branch Pamela Branch ... Sister Elizabeth
Stanley Adams ... Juan
Dan Frazer ... Father Murphy
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Storyline

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 <thompson@amath.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Sidney Poitier as the life-loving ex-GI who one day encounters five nuns escaped from beyond the Berlin Wall... See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German | Spanish

Release Date:

5 July 1963 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Piety in the Sky See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$240,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Rainbow Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Shot on-location in Arizona in only fourteen days. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Man donating chandelier: Senor...
Homer Smith: [turns to see a Mexican couple with a beautiful chandelier] Yes? Oh my. Well, we're going to have to find someplace special for this. Thank you.
Homer Smith: [wife takes his hand in gratitude] Well, take this to Mother Maria.
[turns to Ashton]
Homer Smith: Everybody wants to give.
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the end of the film, the word "Amen" is seen, rather than "The End". See more »

Connections

Featured in The 70th Annual Academy Awards (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Amen
(uncredited)
By Jester Hairston
Sung by Sidney Poitier dubbed by Jester Hairston
See more »

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User Reviews

My 'perfect' movie.
8 July 2000 | by roarshockSee all my reviews

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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