Nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture and winner of the Best Actor Oscar for Sidney Poitier (Paris Blues, In the Heat of the Night). Homer Smith (Poitier), 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 a monetary reward, Homer knows that when his work is done, he’ll leave that dusty desert town a much better place than when he found it. Ralph Nelson (Duel at Diablo, Charly) wonderfully directed this gem of a motion picture featuring stunning black-and-white cinematography by the great Ernest Haller (Gone with the Wind, Mildred Pierce).
As embodied by Alan Bates, Butley falls back on the surgically precise wit and savage eloquence that helped put him in his current circumstances in the first place. The blitzkrieg of vitriolic commentary with which Butley engages lovers, students, rivals, and allies, all with equal ferocity, becomes a glass bottom boat illuminating the churning depths of his bankrupted soul. Acclaimed playwright Harold Pinter, in what Time Magazine hailed as “a quite superior directorial debut,” turns author Simon Gray’s single-set, dialogue driven stage play into an irresistible dynamic visual experience that tracks Bates’ hilarious and fearless performance with cunning precision.
Bates and an expert supporting cast, including OscarÃ‚Â® winner Jessica Tandy (Driving Miss Daisy), joust with a sly, self-referencing wit and an unselfconscious exuberance that is breathtaking. With every verbal parry and valedictory flourish of wordplay, Butley’s life becomes more of an inescapable bear trap of thwarted ambition, clandestine affection, and squandered brilliance.