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Remembering Sidney Poitier

January 19, 2022, 7:00 PM

|Recurring Event (See all)

One event on February 9, 2022 at 7:00 PM

One event on February 16, 2022 at 7:00 PM

Three beloved films starring the late, great Sidney Poitier: the first Black winner of the Academy Award for Best Actor. All three screenings are on Wednesdays, January 19 and February 9 & 16, at 7:00 p.m. Regular admission prices apply.

In the Heat of the Night

Best Picture Oscar-winner (as well as winner of four other Oscars—one questionably to co-lead Rod Steiger rather than Poitier—in the times-they-were-a-changin' year of 1967). In the Heat of the Night has a charged premise that director Norman Jewison and his fabulous cast and crew, including Poitier, in arguably his most memorable role, takes and runs with. "Norman Jewison's mystery, in which a bigoted white Mississippi police chief (Steiger) and a fish-out-of-water black Philadelphia cop (Poitier) find their way toward tentative mutual respect during a murder investigation, first opened in a summer that had been largely defined by explosive race riots in Newark and Detroit. IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT is a very fine movie, in part because it doesn’t try too hard to be a great one. The groan heard from many critics when Jewison’s movie unexpectedly grabbed the best picture Oscar from the more innovative, popular, and game-changing Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate wasn’t unreasonable. The film's implication that America's racial divide can be healed by two men setting aside their differences to solve a crime does seem a bit pat. But watch the film now and you can't help but wonder whether the movie's detractors were so busy attacking it for being insufficiently down with the revolution that they missed the many smart, specific pleasures that have made this unassuming piece of popular entertainment endure so well”—Mark Harris, Slate.

Wednesday, January 19

Not rated. 1 hour 50 minutes.


Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

"A Love Story of Today" said the poster for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner in 1967. And while it may be considerably less of the moment in THIS day, this Oscar winner has a cast for the ages—casting Sidney Poitier with beloved stars from the '30s through '60s Kathryn Hepburn and Spencer Tracy (this was their ninth and final screen pairing) in what Roger Ebert called, at the time, "a joy to see, an evening of superb entertainment." "Interracial marriage," as it was called, was seen as new and controversial, and against this backdrop, the setup for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is simple: the daughter of a "liberal," well-heeled family returns to introduce them to the man she's recently met and wants to marry. They are White; the man is Black. Will they give their consent? The choice needs to be made immediately, and his parents and others are also there…

Wednesday, February 9

Not rated. 1 hour 48 minutes.


The Defiant Ones

Perhaps Poitier’s first real knockout role and performance, from the '50s, is a prototype for the films that would find their full force in the more open '60s. When a prisoner transport crashes during a night-time storm, John 'Joker' Jackson (Tony Curtis) and Noah Cullen (Poitier) make their escape, chained together by the wrist. The director’s third feature, The Defiant Ones, combines Stanley Kramer’s trademark liberal politics with a picaresque adventure that is deftly entertaining, tense and heartfelt. Poitier's most famous collaboration with Kramer was in the social comedy-drama Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, but it was The Defiant Ones where the pair first worked together. Kramer was in many ways the definition of a Hollywood liberal – privileged, white and concerned with social justice. Historically, his films have been somewhat undervalued, but in the era of McCarthy and Hollywood blacklisting, there was an admirable directness to the filmmaker's approach to political messages. As a jailbreak romp, The Defiant Ones weaves its social commentary through what is essentially an odd-couple comedy, throwing together a white racist and a black man to force them to work together.

Wednesday, February 16

Not rated. 1 hour 36 minutes.



January 19, 2022
7:00 PM


Maine Film Center
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Railroad Square Cinema
Schupf Art Center, 93 Main St
Waterville, ME
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