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 improvised 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.
- 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 but finds he is too late.
- Did Not Get the Girl
- Disabled Love Interest
- Good Samaritan: Gordon, a black man, breaks taboo by helping a blind white girl escape from her abusive mother.
- Jerry Goldsmith: In contrast to his better known loud, blockbuster movie music, the score for this film is quite simple and gentle.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Gordon of this. Gordon is conflicted as to the exact nature of his feelings for Selena.