Homer Smith an itinerant handyman is driving through the Arizona desert when he meets five impoverished nuns. Stopping to fix their leaky farmhouse roof Homer discovers that not only will the Mother Superior not pay him for the job but she also wants him to build their chapel - for free! Hesitant at first Homer soon finds himself single-handedly raising the chapel and the financing. But although he will not receive monetary reward Homer knows that when his work is done he'll
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Travelling handyman Homer Smith (Sidney Poitier) encounters a group of nuns led by Mother Maria (Lilia Skala) while driving through the Arizona desert. Newly arrived from Germany and unable to speak much English, the nuns prevail upon Homer to fix the leaky roof of their farmhouse and, despite being unable to pay him any money, persuade him to stay on and build them a chapel. As he works for the nuns, teaching them English in his spare time, Homer discovers a new purpose to his life, but encounters resistance from the local community when he tries to persuade them to help with the building work. Poitier won an Oscar for his performance in the film - the first black actor ever to do so.
Sidney Poitier--who would later star in such unforgettable films as TO SIR, WITH LOVE; GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER and IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT--won an Academy Award for best actor for his standout performance in this modest, beautiful 1963 film. LILIES OF THE FIELD is directed tenderly and with restraint by Ralph Nelson from a light-handed yet deeply effective screenplay by James Poe, based on a novel by William E. Barrett. Poitier plays the role of Homer Smith, a journeyman labourer, who is roaming the countryside, drifting and working. One day he stops at a farm encountering five impoverished nuns. Lilia Skala is formidable and endearing as Mother Maria, the highest-ranking sister, who is convinced that God has answered her prayers and sent Homer to fix the roof. Staying and working in the peaceful calm of the Arizona desert, Homer learns more from the nuns than he ever could have anticipated."