Case Number 15790: Small Claims Court

THE SIDNEY POITIER COLLECTION

Edge Of The City
Warner Bros. // 1957 // 85 Minutes // Not Rated
Something Of Value
Warner Bros. // 1957 // 114 Minutes // Not Rated
A Patch Of Blue
Warner Bros. // 1965 // 105 Minutes // Not Rated
A Warm December
Warner Bros. // 1972 // 101 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // February 25th, 2009

The Charge

Power. Prestige. Presence. POITIER!

The Case

The timing is perfect for the release of The Sidney Poitier Collection. The first African American President has been sworn in, most Academy Award racial barriers have been broken, and here's a man who started fighting half a century ago to make it all happen. Sidney Poitier helped break these barriers by showing the world the unique brand of quiet dignity he brought to every role. This is an actor who did nothing less than changed the world by altering how so many of us looked at it. Poitier is mainly known for Lilies of the Field, To Sir, With Love, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, and In the Heat of the Night. So what's up with this collection which includes none of these titles? Well, this is a Warner Bros. release and they didn't own the rights to those films. Instead we get four lesser known Poitier titles: Edge of the City, Something of Value, A Patch of Blue, and Warm December. It's interesting to see Sidney in the films most people wouldn't recall, and witness his grace even when the scripts don't quite live up to his presence.

Edge of the City is a story about two longshoremen -- Axel Nordmann (John Cassavetes, Rosemary's Baby) and Tommy Tyler (Poitier). It's a black and white film from 1957 which marked the feature debut of celebrated socially conscious director Martin Ritt (Norma Rae, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold). At the core is a tense melodrama about labor exploitation, with all the political leanings you would expect from a film by Ritt starring Poitier. But you almost have to set aside the social aspirations, because the drama works mainly due to the friendship between Axel and Tommy. It paints a nice moment where color doesn't matter at all, because Poitier and Cassavetes have chemistry.

Another unlikely friendship is at the center of Something of Value (also from 1957) which finds Poitier teamed up with Rock Hudson (Giant) in a story set in colonial Kenya. The whole thing plays out as a fictionalized version of the Mau Mau uprising from the early '50s, and it's meant to use the East African history to explore war and why men go into it. It certainly could have been more over the top than it was, and again the restrained film seems to mirror the quiet power of its leading man.

A Patch of Blue (1965) features Poitier in the role of a man who falls in love with a blind woman (Elizabeth Hartman, Walking Tall). Shelley Winters won an Oscar for her supporting performance playing the unlikable mother of the vision impaired girl, but Poitier is a force to be reckoned with for his boundary breaking romantic lead.

The final film is A Warm December (1973) which was directed by Poitier himself. Sidney plays a widower who finds a second chance at love in London. The whole thing seems like a colorblind rip-off of Love Story meant to bring attention to psychedelic shirts and sickle cell anemia. Out of the four films, this one seems like a silly inclusion. It's a curious project showcasing a misguided directorial effort from the actor.

The Sidney Poitier Collection has some nice technical specs, but little in the way of supplemental material. All the transfers look good, with all but A Warm December in black and white. The contrast looks great, and the gray scale is luminous enough to make the older films appear clear and well represented. A Warm December's color palette is well rendered and looks fine. Each film is presented with their original mono soundtracks. Extras on three of the films are limited to vintage trailers, but A Patch of Blue features a director's commentary from Guy Green. He tells some neat stories, with quite a few pauses throughout. There are also some text features like an essay on Poitier's career and a photo gallery. Overall, it's nice to see these films in such good shape, but we have little to explain them other than a single commentary, an essay, and a handful of photos and trailers.

These four films are interesting for fans of Sidney Poitier, though I wouldn't recommend them for those seeking to understand why the man was such a legend. These aren't the movies that come to mind when you think of Poitier, but it's interesting to see him elevate any project with merely his arrival on set. Even when he manages to bungle his own project, as in A Warm December, you can't deny he looks and sounds good doing it. With these films, he showed us his range and how well he can connect with legendary actors.

The Verdict

The Sidney Poitier Collection makes for an interesting grace note to the main works he will always be known for. Three out of the four are solid, and even the odd one out is worth a look. The world will never have another man like Poitier, and we can never get enough as viewers.

Review content copyright © 2009 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice, Edge Of The City
Judgment: 86

Perp Profile, Edge Of The City
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (French)

Subtitles:
* English
* French

Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 1957
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Edge Of The City
* Original Trailer

Scales of Justice, Something Of Value
Judgment: 85

Perp Profile, Something Of Value
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (French)

Subtitles:
* English
* French

Running Time: 114 Minutes
Release Year: 1957
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Something Of Value
* Original Trailer

Scales of Justice, A Patch Of Blue
Judgment: 92

Perp Profile, A Patch Of Blue
Video Formats:
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (French)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 105 Minutes
Release Year: 1965
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, A Patch Of Blue
* Commentary
* Photo Gallery
* Essay

Scales of Justice, A Warm December
Judgment: 78

Perp Profile, A Warm December
Video Formats:
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French

Running Time: 101 Minutes
Release Year: 1972
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks, A Warm December
* Original Trailer

Accomplices
* IMDb: Edge of the City
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0050347/combined

* IMDb: Something of Value
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0050993/combined

* IMDb: A Patch of Blue
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0059573/combined

* IMDb: A Warm December
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0070898/combined