Thursday, January 18, 2024

Thursday Film Picks- Racism


Since it was Martin Luther King’s birthday and a holiday, I thought about what he was fighting for and against. The sad thing is that racism still exists and quite strongly…sadly so. I decided to choose 3 films that incorporates the issues of racism in one form or another and here are my 3 picks…


This is an action film about prison escapees starring Tony Curtis and Sydney Poitier as 2 escaped convicts who are handcuffed together to give the sheriff a laugh. At first, they hate each other’s guts mainly due to colour of their skins. It’s the Deep South so, naturally, black people are looked at as no better than slaves ( I don’t think a lot has changed…sadly) but, over time, they begin to respect one another and actually form a friendship while dealing with an angry, lynching mob or other nasty people including swamps, heat and insects. It’s really a well written film and finely acted by not only Poitier but Tony Curtis.


Can I say I love Chief Dan George who was an excellent actor and was in some good films in the 70s including this film that stars Dustin Hoffman as a 121 year old man who says he is the sole survivor of the Massacre at Little Big Horn. A reporter wants to know about this old man’s life and you follow him from being a foster son to a husband and wife with the wife a bit lusty after the 16 yr old to him being taken in by the Cheyenne with Chief Dan George as the elder who takes Dustin under his wing. This is a funny movie but also a very, very sad film especially when his Cheyenne wife, child and her sisters are massacred by Custer and his troops at the Washita River. This scene really got to me and, when I found out it was a true story, it hit home for some reason. I really like this film and the way it depicted the Native American people.


I need to see this film again since I haven’t seen it in so long. This is based on a true story about a group of Jewish people on a German cruise ship, in 1939, bound for Cuba to escape the Nazi persecution.  Little do they realize they are pawns in the propaganda that nobody will want them. Unfortunately, they are proven right when the United States refuses them entry as does Canada. The German captain must turn back but not before wanting to ground the ship near Britain so the people will have to be taken off as refugees. Thankfully, Britain, France, Holland and Belgium decide to take on the refugees. It’s just very sad to know that North America did not want to get involved and threw these people back to almost certain death which many ended up  in the camps. It is well worth seeing.

Which films would you choose? 


  1. Hi, Birgit!

    You picked a timely theme for this week's movie review feature, dear friend! The Defiant Ones is another great film that I studied in my college course on the history of cinema. It featured distinguished actor Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis as I had never seen him before. Imagine going from that tense dramatic role to playing "Josephine" in Some Like It Hot a year later! One of my other all-time favorites, Lon Chaney, Jr, was also in the cast, along with Cara Williams, an actress I enjoyed when paired with Harry Morgan in the TV sitcom Pete And Gladys in the early 60s. Cara had a long life, reaching 96 before The Reaper came calling.

    Mrs. Shady (#2) and I love Dustin Hoffman's acting, and Little Big Man was one of the first films we watched together as a couple (along with Dances With Wolves). It left an indelible mark on us. I have not yet watched Voyage Of The Damned, but agree that it is well worth seeing.

    For my selections, I'm going with three more important Sidney Poitier films that dealt with racism: A Patch Of Blue (1965), In The Heat Of The Night (1967) and Guess Who's Coming To Dinner? (1967). In the film A Patch Of Blue, a kissing scene between Poitier's character and a blind 18-year-old white girl played by Elizabeth Hartman was deleted for screenings in the South.

    Enjoy the rest of your week and weekend, dear friend BB, and please give my buddy Harley extra hugs and smooches for me!

  2. Thunderheart with Val Kilmer and Graham Greene involved racism against Native Americans.

  3. BIRGIT ~

    Perhaps I should see 'Little Big Man' again. I only saw it once, circa 1989. I recall one complaint I wrote about it: "The title appeared in April and the final credits appeared in June."

    The first movie that came to my mind was 'In The Heat Of The Night'. However, that was one of several movies I thought was great when I saw it in my youth, and then seeing it many decades later I felt it didn't hold up well at all.

    Another movie that came to mind was 'Giant', with James Dean, Rock Hudson, and Elizabeth Taylor. (Another really long film!) It addressed quite a number of different topics, including racism.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    [Link> BOTB's Battle Of The Booze

    POSTSCRIPT: Incidentally, Birgit, in that music Battle linked above, YOU are one of the "3 voters" I alluded to whom I believed would be able to name the movie that the photo included in the blog bit had come from. Is you up to that challenge?

  4. Hi Birgit!

    A terrific trio of films about a dark facet of human behavior.

    The Defiant Ones is a gripping film, it's just so odd that while it's glorious reputation followed Poitier throughout his career it didn't do the same for Tony Curtis. This came in the period where Curtis was really branching out and showing his talent for both drama and comedy and for a while he was venerated but then he hit the skids hard and ended up in total junk like Lobster Man from Mars and it seems to have sundered his deserved reputation for quality work.

    I respected more than loved Little Big Man and haven't seen it in years. Both Chief Dan George and Dustin Hoffman are outstanding in it though.

    After seeing Voyage of the Damned I read the book and it was just heartbreaking to see how these poor people were used as pawns in international politics and ultimately abandoned. The film isn't perfect but has a great cast and is often compelling.

    You would think with all the films about racism more progress would have come about by now but sadly it seems for every two steps forward there is always one back, if not more.

    The three that come to mind for me are these:

    No Way Out (1950)-Poitier made his screen bow in this incisive drama that was Joe Mankiewicz's lead up to All About Eve. He's good if still a bit uncertain and overemphatic but the picture belongs to Richard Widmark's frighteningly venal portrait of an evil bigot (odd that he was so good at that particular role since he was famously liberal and he and Sidney became lifelong deep friends during filming) and Linda Darnell in one of her best roles and performances as Edie who literally changes as a person during the course of the film.

    Next would be another Sidney Poitier film 1961's Paris Blues with Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward and Diahann Carroll which not only contrasts American racism against the more open French society but includes a lot of great music.

    I'm going to cheat a little with my last and pick the 1970 TV movie My Sweet Charlie wherein Al Freeman, Jr. plays a falsely accused black man on the run who takes refuge in an abandoned house only to find pregnant teen Patty Duke hiding there as well. At first she is wildly racist and frightened but comes to see him as the good man he is and they forge a friendship until outside forces intrude. The film was showered with awards including an Emmy win for Patty as Best Actress.

  5. There are so many films that can be included in this theme. I've seen all your picks and they are good ones.

    Some that came to mind for me: Mississippi Burning with a great cast headed by Gene Hackman & Willem Dafoe. Green Book about a tour of the south taken by pianist Don Shirley in the early sixties. Selma Oscar nominee from a few years back.

    So many more!


  6. A good topic to shine the light on. Hope you are well.

  7. I have not seen any of these. I'll have to check them out.

  8. I've seen all three, but remember Little Big Man the most. Excellent choices for a timely topic! One of my favourites is A Time To Kill from 1996.

  9. Strangely, I’ve just come from another blog where there was a lot of discussion of To Kill A Mockingbird (mostly about the book, but the film was mentioned). I guess that fits?

  10. It is sad that racism is still a problem. I don't believe it'll ever go away in this life time. We are all equal, same to the core just different on the outside. It doesn't make one better than the other but sometimes people think it does. Your movie selections are new to me and they do sound like good choices. Thanks for telling us about them. :)

  11. Hi Birgit - so interesting to have these and your commenters' suggestions listed ... I'd love to see some of them. I hope someone mentioned Killers of the Flower Moon - I've got the book here. Cheers - Hilary