Academy Awards 2001 -
Honorary Awards: Sidney Poitier
Description by OLDIES.com:
Featuring an Academy Award-winning performance by Poitier, and nominated for four additional Oscars including Best Picture, Lillies of the Field is "a funny, sentimental, charming and uplifting film" (The Hollywood Reporter).
Homer Smith (Sidney Poitier), an itinerant handyman, is driving through the Arizona desert when he meets five impoverished nuns. Stopping to fix their leaky farmhouse roof, Homer discovers that not only will the Mother Superior not pay him for the job, but she also wants him to build their chapel - for free! Hesitant at first, Homer soon finds himself single-handedly raising the chapel and the financing. But although he will not receive a monetary reward, Homer knows that when his work is done, he'll leave that dusty desert town a much better place than when he found it.
Sidney Poitier--who would later star in such unforgettable films as TO SIR, WITH LOVE; GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER and IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT--won an Academy Award for best actor for his standout performance in this modest, beautiful 1963 film. LILIES OF THE FIELD is directed tenderly and with restraint by Ralph Nelson from a light-handed yet deeply effective screenplay by James Poe, based on a novel by William E. Barrett. Poitier plays the role of Homer Smith, a journeyman laborer, who is roaming the countryside, drifting and working. One day he stops at a farm and meets up with five nuns. Lilia Skala is formidable and endearing as Mother Maria, the highest-ranking sister, who is convinced that God has answered her prayers and sent Homer to fix the roof. Staying and working in the peaceful calm of the Arizona desert, Homer learns more from the nuns than he ever could have anticipated.
Director Ralph Nelson appears in a cameo as Mr. Ashton.
In addition to Sidney Poitier's win for Best Actor in a Leading Role, the film garnered Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Lilia Skala (Best Actress in a Supporting Role), Ernest Haller (Best Cinematography, Black & White), and James Poe (Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium).
Ralph Nelson directed a made-for-television sequel called CHRISTMAS LILIES OF THE FIELD, which aired on December 16, 1979, and featured Billy Dee Williams in Poitier's role.