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Sidney Poitier Dies at 94 — How to Stream His Best Movies

Ben Bowman

Even if you never saw a Sidney Poitier movie, you’ve surely seen his work. His “They call me Mr. Tibbs” line has been played at Oscar ceremonies almost as often as the “Lawrence of Arabia” shot of the match being blown out.

Poitier was a giant - a groundbreaking pioneer who elevated acting itself. At a time when Black actors had few roles available, he pierced the silver screen with grace, charisma, and mesmerizing talent. He was the first Black male actor to win an Oscar. Add to that: two more Academy Award nominations, 10 Golden Globes nominations, two Primetime Emmy Awards nominations, six BAFTA nominations, eight Laurel nominations, and one Screen Actors Guild Awards nomination.

The Best of Sidney Poitier

  • The Last Brickmaker in America

    September 23, 2001

    A man must cope with the loss of his wife and the obsolescence of his job before finding redemption by becoming a role model to an equally lost 13-year-old.

  • The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn

    May 9, 1999

    In the small Southern community of Twin Pines, GA, lives Noah Dearborn, a master craftsman and farmer who cherishes his solitude almost as much as the local townspeople cherish him — especially restaurant owner Sarah McClellan. But when greedy real estate developers set their sights on Noah’s land and he rejects their six-figure offer, this taciturn man is forced to summon all his strength in order to defend not only his property and way of life, but his sanity.

  • Mandela and de Klerk

    February 16, 1997

    Sidney Poitier and Michael Caine both received Emmy nominations for their performances in this made-for-TV movie. The plot follows Nelson Mandela’s 27-year struggle to end apartheid.

  • The Jackal

    November 14, 1997

    Hired by a powerful member of the Russian mafia to avenge an FBI sting that left his brother dead, a psychopathic hitman known only as The Jackal proves an elusive target for the people charged with the task of bringing him down: a deputy FBI director, a Russian MVK Major, and a jailed IRA terrorist who can recognize him.

  • Sneakers

    September 9, 1992

    When shadowy U.S. intelligence agents blackmail a reformed computer hacker and his eccentric team of security experts into stealing a code-breaking ‘black box’ from a Soviet-funded genius, they uncover a bigger conspiracy. Now, he and his ‘sneakers’ must save themselves and the world economy by retrieving the box from their blackmailers.

    If you’ve never seen this movie, it’s incredibly fun with a wonderful cast including Robert Redford, Dan Aykroyd, River Phoenix, David Strathairn, and Ben Kingsley. Poitier gets to show off his comedy chops in this heist film.

  • Separate But Equal

    April 7, 1991

    A dramatization of the American court case that destroyed the legal validity of racial segregation. One of the most pivotal moments in 20th century American history is bracingly dramatized in Separate but Equal. In telling the detailed story of the Supreme Court’s 1953 decision to abolish racial segregation in schools, this superb 1991 TV movie covers a broad spectrum of issues, never taking its “eyes off the prize” while its first-rate cast conveys the importance of the Supreme Court’s ultimately unanimous decision.

  • The Wilby Conspiracy

    February 1, 1975

    Having spent 10 years in prison for nationalist activities, Shack Twala is finally ordered released by the South African Supreme Court but he finds himself almost immediately on the run after a run-in with the police. Assisted by his lawyer Rina Van Niekirk and visiting British engineer Jim Keogh, he heads for Capetown where he hopes to recover a stash of diamonds, meant to finance revolutionary activities, that he had entrusted to a dentist before his incarceration. Along the way, they are followed by Major Horn of the South African State security bureau and it becomes apparent that he has no intention of arresting them until they reach their final destination

  • The Organization

    October 20, 1971

    After a group of young revolutionaries break into a company’s corporate headquarters and steal $5,000,000 worth of heroin to keep it off the street, they call on San Francisco Police Lieutenant Virgil Tibbs for assistance.

  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs!

    July 10, 1970

    A police detective’s investigation of a prostitute’s murder points to his best friend.

  • In the Heat of the Night

    August 2, 1967

    African-American Philadelphia police detective Virgil Tibbs is arrested on suspicion of murder by Bill Gillespie, the racist police chief of tiny Sparta, Mississippi. After Tibbs proves not only his own innocence but that of another man, he joins forces with Gillespie to track down the real killer. Their investigation takes them through every social level of the town, with Tibbs making enemies as well as unlikely friends as he hunts for the truth.

  • Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

    December 11, 1967

    A couple’s attitudes are challenged when their daughter brings home a fiancé who is black.

  • To Sir, with Love

    June 14, 1967

    A British Guianese engineer starts a job as a high school teacher in London’s East End, where his uninterested and delinquent pupils are in desperate need of attention and care.

  • Duel at Diablo

    June 15, 1966

    While crossing the desert, a frontier scout, Jess Remsberg, rescues Ellen Grange from a pursuing band of Apaches, and returns her to her husband, Willard Grange. He is contracted to act as a scout for an Army cavalry unit. Willard, Ellen, and her infant son are along for the ride, as is horse trader Toller, a veteran of the 10th Cavalry. The party is trapped in a canyon by Chata, an Apache chief and grandfather of Ellen’s baby. Willard is captured and tortured. Jess sneaks away and brings reinforcements just in time to save the day. Jess learns that the man he has been hunting is none other than Willard Grange.

  • A Patch of Blue

    December 10, 1965

    A blind, uneducated white girl is befriended by a black man, who becomes determined to help her escape her impoverished and abusive home life.

  • Lilies of the Field

    June 4, 1963

    An unemployed construction worker heading out west stops at a remote farm in the desert to get water when his car overheats. The farm is being worked by a group of East European Catholic nuns, headed by the strict mother superior, who believes the man has been sent by God to build a much needed church in the desert.

  • A Raisin in the Sun

    May 28, 1961

    Walter Lee Younger is a young man struggling with his station in life. Sharing a tiny apartment with his wife, son, sister and mother, he seems like an imprisoned man. Until, that is, the family gets an unexpected financial windfall.

  • Paris Blues

    September 27, 1961

    During the 1960s, two American jazz musicians living in Paris meet and fall in love with two American tourist girls and must decide between music and love.

  • Porgy and Bess

    June 24, 1959

    Set in the early 1900s in the fictional Catfish Row section of Charleston, South Carolina, which serves as home to a black fishing community, the story focuses on the titular characters, crippled beggar Porgy, who travels about in a goat-drawn cart, and the drug-addicted Bess, who lives with stevedore Crown, the local bully.

  • The Defiant Ones

    August 14, 1958

    Two convicts—a white racist and an angry black man—escape while chained to each other.

  • Edge of the City

    January 4, 1957

    An army deserter and a black dock worker join forces against a corrupt manager.

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