Over the weekend on TCM, I happened across a film, which just happened to be Sidney Poitier’s screen debut. Even this early in his career, his signature acting style is blatatantly evident and marvelous to behold.
“No Way Out” follows two criminal brothers as they are admitted into a hospital for treatment after being shot by the cops. When one of them unexpectedly dies, their doctor (who happens to be a black man) is accused by the living brother of murder. What ensues is a man who has to uphold this oath as a doctor regardless of constantly being verbally abused and judged on his color not his medical abilities.
It goes without saying that if this film were released today, it would be the subject of much controversy. Not just from the vantage point that it’s racially unjust and unfair, but the “n-word” is used so many times that I lost count.
What is worth mentioning is that Poitier holds his own against my Missouri homeboy Richard Widmark, whose character says some downright nasty things and gets right up in Poitier’s face with it. “No Way Out” also marks the film debut of the late Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.
It was this film that made Hollywood stand up and take notice of Poitier and afforded him the opportunity that was not given to people of color at that time. Sidney Poitier is unarguably the most gifted actor to ever grace a screen. He broke down racial barriers, with his screen portrayals of being simply a “man” and not a “black man”.
He then flipped the script and produced comedies with old friend Bill Cosby, as well as, being a founding member of the late 60’s film company- First Aritsts along with Barbra Streisand, Paul Newman and Steve McQueen.
As the Oscars approach this week, Poitier celebrates his 83rd birthday.
Did you know that even though he portrayed Walter Lee in “A Raisin In The Sun” onscreen and onstage. He was not awarded a Tony or Oscar for his performance?
Did you know that he won a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album in 2001 for “Measure of a Man”
Did you know that his Oscar wins were for the Defiant Ones and Lillies of the Field and NOT for A Raisin In The Sun? I know…right??!!
Take a look at these trailers for his Oscar winning performances and for my personal fav… A Raisin In The Sun