‘Sydney’ justifies Sidney Poitier’s remarkable life and pioneering career CNN


In theory, there’s only so much you can do with a celebrity biography, but when the subject is Sidney Poitier, it’s a very target-rich environment. ‘ does the actor justice, providing context, depth and considerable warmth in chronicling his remarkable life and history. pioneering career.

By counting the actor’s widow, Joanna Simkus Poitier, and her daughter, Annika, as executive producers, the project appropriately celebrates Poitier’s achievements, but strays far enough to cover the more complex aspects of his story. I keep For example, in the late 1960s the defiance of actors conveyed in a New York Times headline with the question, “White America Sidney Why He Loves Poitiers?” Including long-term affairs. Layer on their searing chemistry with the clip for “Blues in Paris.”

Still, Poitier’s rise from humble beginnings in the Bahamas saw him relocate to Florida and then New York to become Hollywood’s first black leading man, needing little embellishment, and performing in one not-two-hour movie. The movie hardly feels enough.

Poitier stumbled into acting, where his striking looks and dignified demeanor allowed him to escape the pitfalls associated with black actors who had been relegated to clown and peripheral roles before him. As Morgan Freeman puts it (just one of the talents who came in to discuss him), Poitier “never played a sleazy role.” His wife was about to give birth.

From his role as a young doctor in 1950’s “No Way Out,” Poitier headlined a string of films that peaked in the ’60s, winning an Academy Award for “Lilies of the Field,” and starring in the 1967 series starred in a memorable movie. The picture winners are “In the Heat of the Night”, “To Sir With Love” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”.

A look back at the life of Oscar-winner Sidney Poitier

It is noted that in the first film, Poitier presses for a change in which his character, Detective Virgil Tibbs, slaps a white plantation owner after assaulting him. I recall that moment as “the loudest silence I’ve ever heard in a theater.”

Poitiers died earlier this yearand he has been extensively interviewed narrating his biography while discussing things like his relationship with his close friend Harry Belafonte, who was active in the civil rights movement. He acknowledges the criticism of his character during that era, which came to be called the “Magical Negro”, and how it affected him.

“He was given big shoulders, but he had to carry a lot of weight,” says Denzel Washington. Robert Redford (who co-starred with Poitier in “Sneakers”) said he was “inspired by his work.”

‘Sydney’ is, by definition, so rich and dense with material from the 1950s and ’60s that it competed for Poitier’s contributions in the ’70s and ’80s and made a successful transition to directing (mainly in comedies, such as “Star Crazy”). and his film trio with Bill Cosby) help create opportunities for black people behind the camera.

Perhaps first and foremost, Hudlin (primarily a narrative filmmaker, whose forays into documentary include The Black Godfather) understands the price paid by being the first black lead actor and how Freeman It beautifully conveys how Poitiers functioned as a ‘lighthouse’, as they say. who followed in his footsteps.

‘Sydney’ takes on a warm glow of its own in the way it sheds light not only on Poitiers road, but also on the decades in which he pioneered it.

“Sydney” premieres September 23 in select theaters and Apple TV+. (Disclosure: My wife works for a division of Apple.)

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