Film / A Patch Of Blue

A 1965 drama film from cinematographer turned director Guy Green. It stars Sidney Poitier, Shelly Winters and Elizabeth Hartman. Made at the height of the American Civil Rights movement, the film explores an interracial relationship with "love is blind" as its theme.

Selena Darcy (Elizabeth Hartman) is a blind teenage girl, living in a big city with her abusive prostitute mother Roseanne (Shelly Winters) and her drunken grandfather, Ole Paw. She has little pleasure in life, spending her days cleaning the apartment, washing clothes and stringing beads to sell. One day she is taken to the park were she meets Gordon Ralfe (Sydney Poitier), an upper crust black man, who befriends and takes pity on her. Gordon plans to help her out of her impoverished life and the two begin to develop feelings for one another. Frequently citied as a modern "Cinderella" story.

Based on the book Be Ready with Bells and Drums by Elizabeth Kata. The film was nominated five Academy Awards and won Best Supporting Actress for Shelly Winters.

The film includes examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Rosanne is both demeaning and demanding of Selena, but crosses the line when Selena is raped by one of Rosanne's clients, an incident which forced Rosanne to rent a second room for her business and blames Selena for the trouble it caused her.
  • The Alcoholic: Ole Paw. It's Played for Drama.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Selena leaves for the school for the blind after admitting her love for Gordon. Gordon realizes that she has forgotten the music box. He races to give it to her before the bus leaves and he finds he is too late.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Selena's sweet persona finally snaps when she's left in the apartment one day and can't meet Gordon. She throws things and yells at the empty beds, telling Ole Paw and Roseanne how much she hates them and how miserable they make her life.
  • Determinator: The first time Selena tries to go the park, she can't make it past one block before having to go back to the apartment. Towards the end of the film, she finds her way there without any sort of help. The difference between the two times? She thought it was the last chance she was ever going to have to see Gordon.
  • Did Not Get the Girl
  • Disabled Love Interest
  • Eye Scream: Selena gets blinded when a bottle of chemicals is thrown in her face as a child.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: It's clear at one point in the movie that Selena has woken up from a Wet Dream about Gordon. She wakes up calling him "My darling" and has a satisfied smile on her face.
  • Good Samaritan: Gordon, a black man, breaks taboo by helping a blind white girl escape from her abusive mother.
  • Karma Houdini: While at least Ole Paw is aware of how he's a terrible human being, Roseanne never really gets any comeuppance beyond Selena gaining enough independence to leave her.
  • Magical Negro: Averted. Selena perceives Gordon as this but the film shows he's a regular guy who is just trying to help her out.
  • Na´ve Everygirl: While Selena may be worldly in matters of sexuality, she's never gone to school and finds things like pineapple ice cream to be exotic.
  • Nobody Poops: Used to advance the friendship between Gordon and Selena. She refuses his offer of juice in an attempt to invoke this, and he teasingly explains there's a nearby bathroom and is later shown waiting for her outside of it.
  • Parents as People: Ole Paw is perpetually drunk but is more humane to Selena and far more sympathetic than Roseanne.
  • Rape Discretion Shot: Selena is assaulted by one of her mother's clients. This is seen through a disturbing POV shot, as she tries to look away, but is forced to look at his face.
  • Scars Are Forever: Selena has some around her eyes from when she was blinded. Gordon gets her a pair of sunglasses to hide them.
  • Vague Age: It's not really established how old Selena is supposed to be beyond some point past the age of eighteen. Elizabeth Hartman was twenty-one when filming the role.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Selena retches on the floor after being beaten by Roseanne and witness to her fight with Old Paw and the neighbors.
  • Where Da White Women At?: Mark accuses his brother Gordon of this. Gordon is conflicted as to the exact nature of his feelings for Selena.