A 1965 drama film from cinematographer turned director Guy Green. It stars Sidney Poitier, Shelley 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.
Selina D'arcey (Hartman) is a blind teenage girl, living in a big city with her abusive prostitute mother Rose-Ann (Winters) and her drunken grandfather, Ole Pa (Wallace Ford). 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 (Poitier), an upper crust black man, who befriends and takes pity on her. Gordon plans to help Selina out of her impoverished life and the two begin to develop feelings for one another. Frequently citied as a modern "Cinderella" story.
Based on novel Be Ready with Bells and Drums by Elizabeth Kata. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, with Shelley Winters winning for Best Supporting Actress.
The film includes examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Rose-Ann is both demeaning toward and demanding of Selena, but crosses the line when Selina is raped by one of Rosanne's clients, an incident which forced Rose-Ann to rent a second room for her business and blames Selena for the trouble it caused her.
- The Alcoholic: Ole Pa. It's Played for Drama.
- Bittersweet Ending: Selina 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: Selina'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 Pa and Rose-Ann how much she hates them and how miserable they make her life.
- Determinator: The first time Selina 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: Selina 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 Selina 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 Pa is aware of how he's a terrible human being, Rose-Ann never really gets any comeuppance beyond Selina gaining enough independence to leave her.
- Magical Negro: Averted. Selina perceives Gordon as this but the film shows he's a regular guy who is just trying to help her out.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Shelley Winters felt so uncomfortable playing a racist in this film (she was a staunch Civil Rights activist in The '60s), she practically disliked working on it, even though she ended up winning an Oscar for her performance.
- Na´ve Everygirl: While Selina 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 Selina. 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 Pa is perpetually drunk but is more humane to Selina and far more sympathetic than Rose-Ann.
- Rape Discretion Shot: Selina 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: Selina 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 Selina is supposed to be beyond some point past the age of eighteen. Elizabeth Hartman was twenty-one when filming the role.
- Vomit Discretion Shot: Selina retches on the floor after being beaten by Rose-Ann and witness to her fight with Ole Pa and the neighbors.
- Unintentional Period Piece: Gordon teaches sheltered, disabled Selina about modern 1960s life. Part of this involves teaching her how to connect to the operator on a rotary payphone and having her ask the operator to dial the number for her, after which the phone gives her the money back due to there being no answer on the other end. He also takes her shopping and explains that the cashier uses a manual computer register to ring up the total cost of their purchases.
- Where Da White Women At?: Gordon's brother Mark accuses him of this. Gordon himself is conflicted as to the exact nature of his feelings for Selina.