To commemorate Black History Month, Columbia TriStar is releasing two collections: one featuring movies by black filmmakers or about black historical figures, Black History Collection. The other showcasing Sidney Poitier in The Poitier Collection. Unfortunately, they appear to be culled with little thought, treating the occasion more as a marketing peg than a celebration of black cinema.
The Sidney Poitier collection, in addition to the widely seen To Sir, With Love (1967) and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (1967), comprises both treasures and fool’s gold. Chief among the former is the 1961 adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun, notable for the comic timing and dramatic skill of Poitier and Diana Sands as poor Chicagoans who long for the suburbs. The rest of the Poitier films (The Bedford Incident, Little Nikita, and Brother John) are forgettable.
It’s too bad both of these packages aren’t choosier. But the recent surge of young black filmmakers certainly promises richer options for future video viewing. B-