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A Patch of Blue

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Title: A Patch of Blue  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: 23rd Golden Globe Awards, Elizabeth Hartman, 38th Academy Awards, Jerry Goldsmith, Shelley Winters
Collection: 1960S Drama Films, 1965 Films, American Coming-of-Age Films, American Drama Films, American Films, Black-and-White Films, English-Language Films, Film Scores by Jerry Goldsmith, Films About Blind People, Films About Dysfunctional Families, Films About Interracial Romance, Films About Prostitution, Films About Race and Ethnicity, Films Based on Australian Novels, Films Based on Novels, Films Directed by Guy Green, Films Featuring a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award Winning Performance, Films Set in Los Angeles, California, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Films
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

A Patch of Blue

A Patch of Blue
Promotional movie poster for the film
Directed by Guy Green
Produced by Guy Green
Pandro S. Berman
Screenplay by Guy Green
Based on Be Ready with Bells and Drums
1961 novel 
by Elizabeth Kata
Starring Sidney Poitier
Shelley Winters
Elizabeth Hartman
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography Robert Burks
Edited by Rita Roland
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • December 10, 1965 (1965-12-10)
Running time
105 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $800,000
Box office $6,750,000 (rentals)[1]

A Patch of Blue is a 1965 American drama film directed by Guy Green about the relationship between a black man, Gordon (played by Sidney Poitier), and a blind white female teenager, Selina (Elizabeth Hartman), and the problems that plague their relationship when they fall in love in a racially divided America. Made in 1965 against the backdrop of the growing civil rights movement, the film explores racism from the perspective of "love is blind."

Shelley Winters won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, her second win for the award, following her victory in 1959 for The Diary of Anne Frank. It was also the final screen appearance for veteran actor Wallace Ford.

Scenes of Poitier and Hartman kissing were excised from the film when it was shown in film theaters in the Southern United States.[2] These scenes are intact in the DVD version. According to the DVD audio commentary, it was the decision of director Guy Green that A Patch of Blue be filmed in black-and-white, although color was available.

The film was adapted by Guy Green from the 1961 book Be Ready with Bells and Drums by the Urie McCleary, Henry Grace, Charles S. Thompson), Best Cinematography (Black-and-White) and Best Music (Original Music Score). Hartman, 22 at the time, was the youngest Best Actress nominee ever, a record she held for ten years before 20-year-old Isabelle Adjani broke her record in 1975.[3]


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Soundtrack 3
  • "A Cinderella Named Elizabeth" 4
  • Reception 5
    • Critical reception 5.1
    • Awards and nominations 5.2
    • Box office 5.3
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Selina D'Arcey (Elizabeth Hartman) is a blind girl living with her prostitute mother Rose-Ann (Shelley Winters) and grandfather Ole Pa (Wallace Ford), in a city apartment. She strings beads to supplement her family's small income, and spends most of her time doing chores. Her mother is abusive, and Ole Pa is an alcoholic. Selina has no friends, rarely leaves the apartment, and has never received an education.

Selina convinces her employer to bring her to the park, where she happens to meet Gordon Ralfe (Sidney Poitier), an educated and soft-spoken black man working night shifts in an office, and the two quickly become friends. Gordon learns that she was blinded at the age of 5 when Rose-Ann threw chemicals on her while attempting to hit her husband, and also that she was raped by one of Rose-Ann's "boyfriends".

Rose-Ann's friend, Sadie, is also a prostitute, and while lamenting the loss of her youth, she realizes that Selina can be useful in their business. Subsequently, Rose-Ann and Sadie decide to move into a better apartment, leave Ole Pa and force Selina into prostitution.

In the meantime, Gordon has contacted a school for the blind which is ready to take Selina. While Rose-Ann is away, Selina runs away to the park and with some difficulty, meets Gordon. She tells Gordon about Rose-Ann's plan, and he assures her that she will be leaving for the school in a few days. Finding Selina missing from the apartment, Rose-Ann takes Ole Pa to the park and confronts Gordon. Despite Rose-Ann's resistance, Gordon manages to take Selina away, and Ole Pa stops Rose-Ann, telling her that Selina is not a child anymore.

At Gordon's house, Selina asks Gordon to marry her, to which Gordon replies that there are many types of love, and she will later realize that their relationship will not work. Selina tells him that she loves him, and knows that he is black, and that it does not matter to her. He then tells her they will wait one year to find out if their love will lead to marriage. Meanwhile, a bus arrives to pick up Selina.



The soundtrack to A Patch of Blue was composed and conducted by Jerry Goldsmith. It gained Goldsmith his second Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score following his score to Freud in 1962. It was also one of the 250 nominated scores for the American Film Institute's top 25 American film scores.[4] The score has been released three times on CD; in 1991 through Mainstream Records (with the score to David and Lisa by Mark Lawrence), in 1992 through Tsunami Records (with his score to Patton), and an extended version in 1997 through Intrada Records.[5]

"A Cinderella Named Elizabeth"

The film's creators also made a short about Hartman's selection to play the starring role. The short, called "A Cinderella Named Elizabeth," focuses on her status as an unknown actress from the middle America town of Youngstown, Ohio, and includes segments from her screen test and associated "personality test", in which the actress is filmed while being herself and answering questions about everyday topics such as her taste in clothing. The short also shows her visiting the Braille Institute of America to watch blind people being trained to do handwork — similar to the beadwork her character does in the film — and to perform tasks of daily living and self-care, of the sort that Poitier's character teaches Selina to do.[6]


Critical reception

A Patch of Blue has a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Awards and nominations

Award Category Subject Result
Academy Award Best Actress Elizabeth Hartman Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Shelley Winters Won
Best Cinematography Robert Burks Nominated
Best Original Score Jerry Goldsmith Nominated
Best Production Design Nominated
BAFTA Award Best Actor Sidney Poitier Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Nominated
Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama Elizabeth Hartman Nominated
New Star of the Year – Actress Won
Best Best Motion Picture – Drama Pandro S. Berman Nominated
Guy Green Nominated
Best Screenplay Nominated
Best Director Nominated

Box office

The film proved to be the most successful in Poitier's career, which proved a lucrative development considering he agreed to a salary cut in exchange for 10% of the film's gross earnings. In addition, the film made Poitier a major national film star with excellent business in even southern cities like Houston, Atlanta and Charlotte.[7]

See also


  1. ^ "Big Rental Pictures of 1966", Variety, 4 January 1967 p 8
  2. ^ Canby, Vincent (5 April 1966). "'A Patch of Blue' Draws in South". New York Times. p. 42. 
  3. ^ "NY Times: A Patch of Blue". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  4. ^ AFI's 100 Years Of Film Scores at
  5. ^ Clemmensen, Christian. A Patch of Blue soundtrack review at Retrieved 2011-04-14.
  6. ^ "A Cinderella Named Elizabeth" via AOL Video. Retrieved November 25, 2007.
  7. ^ Harris (2008). Pictures. p. 159. 

External links

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