A Patch of Blue is one of those films I knew by reputation. Sidney Poitier could no wrong coming off Lilies in the Field and right before In The Heat of the Night. Yet, he chose to do A Patch of Blue. It was a stark look at an interracial relationship beset by handicaps, but he made it work. Yet, audiences forget the real star of the film.
Elizabeth Hartman is known more for her work in The Secret of N.I.M.H. to my generation. While this film was her big Hollywood bow and her first major Award nomination, it came at a cost. While Hartman rode high in the 60s working with legendary director, the mid to late 70s was rough on her. She was in poor mental health and a declining career/personal life took a toll on her.
In 1987, she would commit suicide by throwing herself out a window. I bring that mainly because this is the kind of film that stirs certain feelings. When the film was originally shown in the deep South, scenes of Hartman and Poitier kissing were forcibly cut from the film. By that, I mean projectionists were instructed by local boards to take a pair of scissors to the film.
But, what about the film? Who couldn’t love a romantic movie about a girl who was blinded by her prostitute mother? Yeah, it’s that kind of movie. The film felt like it arrived a smidge too early to really show up on cultural radars. Still, it kind of kicked some doors open.
Shelley Winters won her second Oscar for the film and MGM was praised for the casting of then-unknown Elizabeth Hartman. The subsequent documentary about Hartman’s casting is a must-see. Thankfully, it’s included in this release. The 1080p transfer is stunning, as that Black and White scope transfer pops. I would expect as much as director Guy Green won his Oscar for lensing David Lean’s Great Expectations.
The Warner Archive Blu-ray is stacked. You get a commentary, the vintage short about the casting of Elizabeth Hartman and a trailer. Honestly, this Warner Archive release is the textbook definition of how films like this should be treated. Bundle everything available together into a tidy package for film fans and students to study. Movies like A Patch of Blue are too important to be forgotten.