A Patch of Blue (1965)
“Love is color blind.”
Director: Guy Green
Cast: Sidney Poitier, Shelley Winters, Elizabeth Hartman
Synopsis: A blind, uneducated white girl is befriended by a black man, who becomes determined to help her escape her impoverished and abusive home life.
Guy Green’s A Patch of Blue is a sensitive film that tells the bittersweet tale of a relationship between a young blind girl and a black man she meets in the park one day. The catch is, she doesn’t realise he is black, and her slovenly mother is deeply racist.
By the mid-sixties, Sidney Poitier must have been wondering whether he would ever get a movie part in which the colour of his skin wasn’t a major issue in the film (After 15 years in movies, The Bedford Incident, released in the same year as this flick, was to be his first in which his colour wasn’t an issue). However, if he was getting tired of this it certainly doesn’t show, as he gives a truly excellent performance as the object of blind girl Selina’s affections. The manner in which their increasingly serious relationship develops is believably handled without ever veering towards overt melodrama or sentimentality, and serves to make the rather downbeat ending all the more poignant.
All the major parts in this movie are a joy to watch, from Elizabeth Hartman in her debut role as Selina, to veteran character actor Wallace Ford (for whom this would be one of his final roles) as her drunken grandfather. Shelley Winters is also superb as Selina’s mother, a role for which she received a well-deserved Academy Award.
(Reviewed 2nd May 2002)