In January, Hollywood lost a true pioneer as Sidney Poitier passed away aged 94. In that time, he had inspired generations as one of the finest actors ever to work on the silver screen.
He also shattered glass ceilings, becoming mainstream cinema’s first black lead before America even had a Civil Rights act. It’s no surprise, then, that a whole host of big names line up to praise him in Apple’s affectionate tribute Sidney.
Produced by Oprah Winfrey, the film is, in truth, a fairly standard profile. Talking heads combine with archive footage, as the man himself narrates his life coming from a remote island in The Bahamas to the bright lights of New York, then on to a career in Hollywood.
Fans such as Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Morgan Freeman, and Winfrey herself put his achievements in context, while his immediate family give an idea of the man behind the talent.
It’s not always flattering, his marital infidelity being discussed along with his changing reputation among African Americans. In The Heat of The Night and The Defiant Ones established him as a trail blazer, but as the 70s arrived his suited civility became passe in the days of John Shaft and others.
But the film is quick to defend any negatives, always coming back to the man’s talent and influence. It’s certainly a valid defence, as the film-by-film biography reminds you of just how good he was in front of the camera, a star so bright nothing could deny him.
Sidney the film is more eulogy than investigation, but luckily Sidney the man is so fascinating that cinema fans will be happy to listen.