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A Patch of Blue
A Patch of Blue
Actors: Sidney Poitier, Shelley Winters, Elizabeth Hartman, Wallace Ford, Ivan Dixon
Director: Guy Green
Genres: Drama
NR     2003     1hr 45min

A black man's burgeoning love affair with a blind white girl is complicated by her racist, controlling mother.


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Movie Details

Actors: Sidney Poitier, Shelley Winters, Elizabeth Hartman, Wallace Ford, Ivan Dixon
Director: Guy Green
Creators: Robert Burks, Guy Green, Rita Roland, Kathryn Hereford, Pandro S. Berman, Elizabeth Kata
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Classics
Studio: Warner Home Video
Format: DVD - Black and White,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/04/2003
Original Release Date: 12/10/1965
Theatrical Release Date: 12/10/1965
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 45min
Screens: Black and White,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 18
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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Movie Reviews

Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 01/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a wonderful low-budget, black and white film starring a great cast of actors: Sidney Poitier, Shelley Winters, Wallace Ford, and then newcomer, Elizabeth Hartman. It was filmed in 1965, at the height of the civil rights movement, and was then notable for its budding inter-racial romance. While this aspect may seem rather tame today, at the time the movie was filmed, this was still a somewhat controversial theme in many parts of America.Elizabeth Hartman, in an exquisitely poignant performance for which she was nominated for an Academy Award, plays the part of Selina D'Arcy, an eighteen year old blind girl who lives an isolated and impoverished, almost Dickensian, existence. She lives with her abusive mother, Rose-Ann (Shelley Winters), who moonlights as a prostitute, and her drunken, though somewhat well-meaning, grandfather, whom she calls Ole Pa (Wallace Ford). Uneducated, having never gone to school, Selina spends her time stringing beads to earn some money for the family, cleaning up after her mother and grandfather, and being at the receiving end of constant physical abuse and verbal invectives heaped upon her by her mother. Hers is, indeed, a draconian existence. One day, she prevails upon her grandfather to drop her off in the park, where she proceeds to sit under a tree, stringing her beads. There, she meets a kindly, well-educated business man, Gordon Ralphe (Sidney Poitier), who takes an interest in her and her quick appreciation for any kindness done to her. She responds to Gordon's kindness as if she were a flower turning its face to the sun for continued warmth. He, in turn, is touched by her eager interest in even the most mundane of matters. They continue to meet under that tree as often as possible, and a relationship develops. Under Gordon's tutelage, Selina begins to blossom. Some of her disclosures to him about her life fill him with horror and a determination to do something constructive about it. While he goes about trying to improve her quality of life, their relationship deepens, despite the warnings of Gordon's brother. After all, Selina is white, uneducated, and comes from a trashy, dysfunctional family, while Gordon is black, well-educated, and from a good family. Selina, sure that what she feels is love, is less restrained than Gordon about her feelings, though their budding romance culminates in nothing more than a chaste kiss. When Rose-Ann finds out whom Selina has been meeting, however, matters come to a head, and Gordon comes to the rescue. A modern day knight in shining armor, however, Gordon does the selfless thing in the end. This is a wonderful movie in which the two main protagonists, Gordon and Selina, judge each other by the content of their respective character and not by the color of their skin. Though controversial at the time, this film may seem a little dated by today's standards. Yet, some of its themes are as fresh today as when it was filmed. The notion of selflessness and putting the needs of another before one's own remains timeless. This is a concept, however, rarely seen in today's films.Although this was Ms. Hartman's debut film, she deservedly received an Academy Award nomination for her sensitive portrayal of Selina. Unfortunately, her career never really took off after this film the way one would have expected after a performance of this caliber. She appeared only in a few notable films, such as, "The Group", "You're a Big Boy Now", and "Beguiled", before descending into virtual obscurity. I was saddened to hear that she committed suicide in the late nineteen eighties at the age of forty-five, a tragic figure in the end, leaving behind this beautiful performance for posterity."
Great DVD-Great Movie
Only-A-Child | 03/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"They did an outstanding job of transferring this film to DVD and the 2.35x1 aspect ratio is how you want to see this; especially for the scenes in the apartment. They must have found an almost perfect print (or the original MGM negative) because the DVD is as crisp and clean as any I have ever seen. Because B&W relies so much on contrast and shadows there is often a problem with the old prints, but this well shot feature looks as good as it did in 1965.
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.

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.

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.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
Simply perfect
Lawyeraau | 03/24/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The key to the success of this film is its simplicity, including that it's in black and white. There is nothing to distract you from being enfolded in its beauty, and so your emotional involvement in characters, setting and plot is complete. It is a perfect period piece belonging to 1965, but its appeal is timeless. It's personal appealto me was as strong as if I were dreaming, and had the role of the blind girl! I dangled in emotional suspense until the very last scene, which shouldn't be revealed to those who haven't seen it! As an allegory of the civil rights movement, it spins the tale of gross injustice that could've continued were it not for one individual intervening for right (as in a small number of courageous people's protests bringing an end to the darkness of Jim Crow injustice). This is also a wonderful modern-day Cinderella story, complete with a prince (Poitier) who breaks the spell of the wicked mother (Winters). However the film is viewed the quality shines! The most important point in this film is the juxtaposition of characters, in which Poitier's character represents the voice of reason and responsibility, a ground-breaking role for a black man in 1965."
Only-A-Child | 08/11/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Hollywood would never make a movie like this today. IT would have to be made on a modest budget and Hollywood doesn't think any movie is good unless it costs $100 million, like Wild, Wild West. The acting is superb, as is the beautiful film score by Jerry Goldsmith. Watching it today is sad, though, since the superb young actress, Elizabeth Hartman, killed herself a few years ago by jumping from her apartment. She was living in poverty,after suffering mental problems from the HOllywood "rat race." Shelly Winters is so vicious you want to strangle her. She's written in her memoirs how difficult it was to play the fight scenes with her blind daughter. A wonderful movie--Elizabeth Hartman's triumph. She was also starred in "The Group" and "Walking Tall.""