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 Posted:   Dec 19, 2023 - 4:13 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Sidney Poitier had last appeared in a television dramatic role on “Philco Television Playhouse” in 1955. He returned to the small screen in his first made-for-television film, the two-part SEPARATE BUT EQUAL. Poitier played civil rights attorney (and later Supreme Court Justice) Thurgood Marshall. The film told the story of the legal battles that led to the Supreme Court’s historic 1964 Brown vs. the Board of Education decision, which struck down segregation in American schools. Marshall, who worked for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, spearheaded the movement, and argued the case before the Court.

Sidney Poitier and Gloria Foster in SEPARATE BUT EQUAL

The three-and-a-quarter-hour film was written and directed by George Stevens, Jr. Burt Lancaster played opposing attorney John W. Davis. It was Lancaster's final performance. On 30 November 1990, shortly after filming ended, he suffered a massive stroke and remained incapacitated for the final four years of his life.

The film aired on ABC on 7&8 April 1991 and later won an Emmy for Outstanding Drama/Comedy Special or Miniseries. Sidney Poitier was nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries. He lost the Emmy to John Gielgud for the PBS film SUMMER’S LEASE and lost the Golden Globe to Beau Bridges for WITHOUT WARNING: THE JAMES BRADY STORY. Carl Davis’s score for SEPARATE BUT EQUAL has not had a release.

 Posted:   Dec 27, 2023 - 6:50 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In SNEAKERS, “Martin Bishop” (Robert Redford) is the leader of a group of ex-hackers and otherwise legally compromised individuals—ex-CIA agent “Crease” (Sidney Poitier), conspiracy nut “Mother” (Dan Aykroyd), “Whistler” (David Strathairn) who is blind but has excellent hearing, and young “Carl” (River Phoenix)—who now put their skills toward testing bank security systems. When two National Security Agents (Timothy Busfield and Eddie Jones) show up with a job, Bishop is persuaded partly by the money, and partly because they’ve got an arrest warrant with his real name on it, and his cooperation or lack thereof will decide what they do with it. The mission is to steal a “black box” from a mathematician (Donal Logue).

River Phoenix, Dan Aykroyd, Sidney Poitier, Robert Redford, and David Strathairn in SNEAKERS

Writer-producers Lawrence Lasker and Walter F. Parkes came across the term “sneakers” while researching WAR GAMES (1983). They first understood the term as a reference to young computer programmers, but they met a man at a Chicago convention who informed them that “sneakers” also referred to high-tech security people who were paid to break into businesses in order to identify weaknesses in security systems.

Lasker and Parkes developed a concept based on “sneakers” and pitched it to Twentieth Century Fox as a “high tech ‘Dirty Dozen.’” Fox executives teamed them with writer-director Phil Alden Robinson, and the three worked on the script for the next nine years. The project eventually went into turnaround at Fox and was picked up by Paramount Pictures in the mid-1980s. However, the project lapsed there as well, and reverted to Fox. In summer 1990, Robinson signed “an overall deal” with Universal Pictures, which acquired SNEAKERS from Fox. Robinson did not initially intend to direct the picture; however, he decided to do so when Universal was able to cast Robert Redford in the leading role.

The storyline had changed frequently over the years, often due to shifting political climates. In summer 1991, the film received a green-light from Universal. The production budget was cited as roughly $23 million.

Universal partnered with on-line service Compu-Serve to promote the film. In the months leading up to the release, Phil Alden Robinson, a longtime Compu-Serve user himself, discussed the film with other users on a daily basis. An hour-long on-line “convention” was set to take place on 14 September 1992, with Robinson and other filmmakers answering questions in real time. The cross-promotion was described as groundbreaking: the “first time a large PC information network and studio” had teamed for a “high-tech send-off to a movie.” As part of the promotion, Compu-Serve’s 1.3 million users were offered a chance to “crack a set of anagrams” to qualify for 600 potential prizes, including a trip to Hollywood, and a jacket worn by Robert Redford in the film. Universal also arranged a tie-in with CompUSA computer stores, sent out 4,000 computerized press kits on floppy disk, and scheduled special screenings for computer enthusiasts in twenty-five cities.

Critical reception was positive. The Hollywood Reporter review called SNEAKERS “a big movie with brains,” and the Daily Variety review deemed it “a breezy good time.” The film was number one at the U.S. box-office in its opening weekend, and the film’s cumulative worldwide box-office gross was $105 million.

James Horner’s score was released on a Columbia CD. An expanded version was released by La-La Land in December 2023.

 Posted:   Dec 28, 2023 - 11:17 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In the two-part made-for-television film CHILDREN OF THE DUST, a bearded Sidney Poitier plays a half black, half Cherokee frontier gunslinger named “Gypsy Smith.” He leads a group of former slaves from Tennessee into the Oklahoma Territory of the 1880s to find a new life. It was a story, as network press materials called it, of “romance, racism, and revenge.” Michael Moriarty played the Indian agent “John Maxwell,” and Farah Fawcett was his wife “Nora.”

The film was based on a novel by Clancy Carlile. David Greene directed the film, which aired on CBS on 26 & 28 February 1995. The film was nominated for an Emmy as Outstanding Miniseries, losing to TNT’s Biblical story JOSEPH. Mark Snow received an Emmy nomination for his score, losing to Laurence Rosenthal for THE ADVENTURES OF YOUNG INDIANA JONES: HOLLYWOOD FOLLIES.

When the film was released to video later in the year, it was cut down from its original 2 hours and 55 minutes to just two hours, losing a good chunk of the narrative. Probably for that reason, its title was changed to A GOOD DAY TO DIE

 Posted:   Dec 29, 2023 - 4:00 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Singer Lulu (“Barbara Pegg”) and Judy Geeson (“Pamela Dare”) both turn up to say goodbye to teacher “Mark Thackeray” (Sidney Poitier), who retires from his classroom job in London and takes a new assignment in a southside Chicago school in TO SIR, WITH LOVE II. The lessons come hard and fast — on guns, drugs, and sexuality — both inside and outside the classroom.

Sidney Poitier in TO SIR, WITH LOVE II

The film marked the television movie directorial debut of Peter Bogdanovich. CBS aired the film on 7 April 1996. Trevor Lawrence provided the unreleased score. Bogdanovich and Poitier would die on the same day, 6 January 2022.

 Posted:   Dec 30, 2023 - 3:13 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

On 12 June 1964, Nelson Mandela (Sidney Poitier), along with numerous political detainees, was sentenced to life imprisonment in what remains the most sensational treason trial in the history of South Africa. The incarceration of Mandela and other political prisoners on Robben Island would become a symbol of the struggle to end apartheid and win freedom for the black majority in South Africa. On 2 February 1990, President F.W. De Klerk (Michael Caine) stood before Parliament and announced the legalization of the African National Congress and a host of other banned political organizations. At the same time, he announced that Nelson Mandela, having served twenty-seven years in prison, would be released within seven days. Yet the world, and indeed most South Africans, knew little about how this momentous occasion came to pass. The inside story is revealed in MANDELA AND DE KLERK.

Joseph Sargent directed this made-for-cable film, which was shot in South Africa. Most of the locations are those where the actual events took place, and the dramatized sequences are augmented with newsreel footage to ensure the most accurate portrayal possible of historical events. Showtime aired the film on 16 February 1997. The score by Cedric Gradus Samson was released by Rhino Movie Music.

Sidney Poitier and Michael Caine had previously co-starred in the South African story THE WILBY CONSPIRACY in 1975. For MANDELA AND DE KLERK, Sidney Poitier was nominated for an Emmy Award as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Special. He lost the Emmy to Armand Assante for GOTTI. Poitier was also nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries, and for a CableACE Award as Best Actor in a Movie or Miniseries. He lost both awards to Gary Sinise for GEORGE WALLACE.

 Posted:   Dec 30, 2023 - 1:07 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Assassin THE JACKAL (Bruce Willis) is contacted by an exiled Russian Mafia boss (David Heyman) to kill an American VIP in revenge for his brother's death at a botched FBI sting in Moscow. The Jackal asks for a huge fee and gets it. Meanwhile U.S. intelligence agents are on to the fact that The Jackal is on the prowl and heading Stateside. “Preston” (Sidney Poitier) is head of the intelligence team. He does a deal with “Declan Mulqueen” (Richard Gere), a sympathetic IRA terrorist incarcerated in an American jail. In the past, Mulqueen encountered The Jackal and might have insight into the way his mind works. In order to join Poitier's crack corps of undercover agents, he is temporarily released and allowed to practice his dodgy accent at top level meetings.

Richard Gere and Sidney Poitier in THE JACKAL

Michael Caton-Jones directed this 1997 thriller. None of Carter Burwell’s score appeared on the song-track CD released by MCA Records. The $60 million production was a box office success, grossing $159 million worldwide. THE JACKAL was Sidney Poitier’s final theatrical feature.

 Posted:   Dec 30, 2023 - 11:55 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

DAVID AND LISA was a made-for-television remake of the 1962 Frank Perry indie film of the same name. Lukas Haas portrays “David” (Keir Dullea in the original film), a withdrawn but apparent near genius, who fears being touched. Brittney Murphy plays “Lisa” (Janet Margolin in the original), a young woman seemingly suffering from split personalities, who speaks only in rhymes and withdraws from anyone who doesn't speak to her likewise. Meeting in the psychiatric ward, the two's eyes lock and an obvious attraction is indicated. First, each must learn to approach the other in their own sphere. Enter Sidney Poitier as a caring psychologist (Howard Da Silva in the original), who helps David to come to terms with his emotional failure to deal with his father's death at an early age. Debi Mazar appears as Lisa's case worker, and Allison Janney plays David’s mother.

Allison Janney, Lukas Haas, and Sidney Poitier in DAVID AND LISA

Lloyd Kramer directed the film. Eleanor Perry, who wrote the original film, wrote this version as well, getting support from director Kramer and Dr. Theodore Isaac Rubin, upon whose book both films are based. Oprah Winfrey was the executive producer for the film, which aired on ABC on 1 November 1998. Marco Beltrami’s unreleased score was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries or a Movie (Dramatic Underscore). He lost the award to Richard Hartley for ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

 Posted:   Dec 31, 2023 - 3:52 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In FREE OF EDEN, “Will Cleamons” (Sidney Poitier), a teacher-turned-businessman who has forgotten his own past, reluctantly finds himself mentoring “Nicole Turner” (played by Poitier’s own daughter, Sydney Tamiia Poitier). Nicole dreams of leaving the Brooklyn projects (Eden Gardens) for a better life, and a Pygmalion-like student/teacher relationship begins. A secondary plot involves Cleamons’ ex-wife (Phylicia Rashad), who is in prison for killing her subsequent abusive husband.

Leon Ichaso directed the made-for-cable film, which aired on Showtime on 21 February 1999. Terence Blanchard’s score has not had a release. The film marked the only time that father and daughter Sidney Poitier and Sydney Tamiia Poitier acted together on screen.

 Posted:   Jan 1, 2024 - 1:02 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In THE SIMPLE LIFE OF NOAH DEARBORN, Sidney Poitier plays the title character, a master craftsman who lives alone in the tiny town of Twin Pines, Georgia. A cherished resource in the community, he tends to his farmhouse, volunteers to fix up his neighbors’ homes, and keeps to himself in a big way; his human interaction is limited to the locals, especially restaurateur “Sarah McClellan” (Dianne Wiest). He also is untouched and unaffected by modern comforts and social progress. (He hasn’t even heard of the Beatles.)

Noah’s solitary existence is placed in jeopardy after developer “Christian Nelson” (George Newbern) offers him a substantial sum of money for his property to build a shopping mall. When Noah declines, Christian asks his psychiatrist girlfriend “Valerie Crane” (Mary-Louise Parker) to examine him, hoping he will be certified incompetent.

Sidney Poitier and Mary-Louise Parker in THE SIMPLE LIFE OF NOAH DEARBORN

Greg Champion directed the made-for-television film, which aired on CBS on 9 May 1999. Joseph Conlan provided the unreleased score. Sidney Poitier won an NAACP Image Award as Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie/Miniseries/Dramatic Special.

 Posted:   Jan 2, 2024 - 10:03 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

“Henry Cobb” (Sidney Poitier) must cope with the loss of his wife and the obsolescence of his job as THE LAST BRICKMAKER IN AMERICA before finding redemption by becoming a role model to equally lost, thirteen-year-old “Danny Potter” (Cody Newton).


Greg Champion directed this fact-based drama, which aired on CBS on 23 September 2001. Joseph Conlan provided the unreleased score. The made-for-television picture marked Sidney Poitiers last film appearance.

 Posted:   Jan 3, 2024 - 1:00 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Sidney Poitier was awarded the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award in 1992. He received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7065 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 1, 1994. In 1995, he received the Kennedy Center Honor and in 2009, Poitier was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama.

Following his retirement from acting in 2001, Sidney Poitier won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album in 2001, for an album called “Life Beyond Measure.” In 2002, Poitier received an Honorary Academy Award for his overall contribution to American cinema. Later in the ceremony, Denzel Washington won the award for Best Actor for his performance in TRAINING DAY, becoming the second Black actor to win the award. In his acceptance speech, Washington saluted Poitier by saying "I'll always be chasing you, Sidney. I'll always be following in your footsteps. There's nothing I would rather do, sir." In 2021, the Academy dedicated the lobby of the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles as the "Sidney Poitier Grand Lobby" in his honor.

Following Poitier’s death in January 2022, Oprah Winfrey produced a documentary on his life, entitled SIDNEY, which was released on 23 September 2022. The footage of Poitier telling his life story came from nearly eight hours of unaired footage of interviews conducted by Winfrey, in 2012.

Sidney Poitier once said, “I decided in my life that I would do nothing that did not reflect positively on my father's life.” Poitier certainly honored his father and his chosen craft all his life, and we are the better for it. Farewell, Sidney.

with James Garner

with Elizabeth Hartman

with Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby

with wife Joanna Shimkus and Nelson Mandel

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