The Knickerbocker Theatre at Hope College will show four films featuring Sidney Poitier during its “One Night Only” series every Monday from November 20 to December 11 at 7:30 p.m.
The films are “A Raisin in the Sun,” “Lilies of the Field,” “In the Heat of the Night” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”
“A Raisin in the Sun,” opening the series on November 20, is a 1961 drama starring Claudia McNeil, Ruby Dee and Poitier. Poitier plays Walter Lee Younger as he struggles with major decisions affecting his family. Wanting to open a liquor store, Walter begs his mother, Lena, for the insurance money that she will be receiving for her husband’s death. In the meantime, she has put a down payment on a house in an all-white-neighborhood. The neighbors soon seek to buy back the house at a much higher price to have the Youngers out of their neighborhood, and after losing the money for his store Walter becomes desperate and considers the offer.
“Lilies of the Field” will be featured next on November 27. The all-star cast, featuring Poitier, Dan Frazer, Lilia Skala and Lisa Mann, sparks a heartwarming film when a traveling handyman, Homer Smith, stops at a farm in the Arizona desert and meets five European nuns. Believing him to be an angel sent from God based on his skills and strengths, the nuns ask Smith to build a chapel for the townsfolk. Through hard work and perseverance he gradually wins the hearts of the nuns and the gratitude of the town.
The series will continue on December 4 with “In the Heat of the Night,” starring Poitier and Rod Steiger. The 1967 mystery drama film features Poitier as Virgil Tibbs, an African-American Philadelphia police detective who is mistakenly arrested on suspicion of murder in Mississippi. Discovering that Tibbs is a top homicide investigator, the local police chief, Bill Gillespie (Steiger), sets aside racial prejudice and asks for help in finding the true culprit. The film’s success created two sequels starring Poitier.
The series will finish on December 11 with “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” a 1967 American comedy-drama film starring Poitier, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Joanna Drayton (Katharine Houghton), a white American, introduces her African American fiancé, John Prentice (Poitier), to her parents (Hepburn and Tracy), who although liberal find themselves struggling with the idea of a mixed-race marriage. In the meantime, Joanna has also invited John’s parents to dinner at her family’s home — and when they arrive they, too, are unsettled.
The films are unrated and tickets are $5. Tickets will be sold at the door but are also available in advance at the Events and Conferences Office located downtown in the Anderson-Werkman Financial Center (100 E. Eighth St.). The office is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be called at (616) 395-7890.
The Knickerbocker Theatre is located in downtown Holland at 86 E. Eighth St.