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The Poitier Effect
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The Poitier Effect: Racial Melodrama and Fantasies of Reconciliation

Sharon Willis

Abstract

The civil rights struggle was convulsing the nation, its violence broadcast into every living room. Against this fraught background, Sidney Poitier emerged as an image of dignity, discipline, and moral authority. Here was the picture-perfect black man, helping German nuns build a chapel in The Lilies of the Field and overcoming the prejudices of recalcitrant students in To Sir with Love, a redneck sheriff in In the Heat of the Night, and a prospective father-in-law in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. In his characters’ restrained responses to white people’s ignorance and bad behavior, Poitier rep ... More

Keywords: Civil rights movement, Race relations, Popular Cinema, Television, Melodrama, Feminism, Sidney Poitier, Collective Memory

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2015 Print ISBN-13: 9780816692842
Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: January 2016 DOI:10.5749/minnesota/9780816692842.001.0001

Authors

Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Sharon Willis, author

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