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TCM salutes Sidney Poitier with weekend movie marathon

Actor Sidney Poitier poses for a portrait in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Monday, June 2, 2008.
Matt Sayles
Actor Sidney Poitier poses for a portrait in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Monday, June 2, 2008.

To Sir With Love, In The Heat Of The Night, Lilies Of The Field and nine other films starring Sidney Poitier, who died last month at 94, air Saturday and Sunday.

The career of Sidney Poitier, the first African American man to win an Academy Award for a leading role, will be celebrated Saturday-Sunday Feb. 19-20 with a 24-hour marathon on TCM.

Viewers will see Poitier, who died Jan. 6 at age 94, in the role that earned him that Oscar, as a handyman who builds a church in Arizona for German nuns in Lilies of the Field (1963). It airs at 4 p.m. Sunday, following To Sir With Love (1967) airing at 2 p.m.

The marathon starts at 8 p.m. Saturday with In The Heat Of The Night (1967), in which he played a Philadelphia police officer helping a Mississippi police chief (Rod Steiger) solve a case in the Deep South.

Seven of the films are from the 1950s, as Poitier was establishing himself in Hollywood: No Way Out (from 1950, his first credited film); Cry the Beloved Country (1952); Blackboard Jungle (1955); Good-bye My Lady (1956); Something of Value, Edge of the City (both 1957); and The Defiant Ones (1958) in which Poitier and Tony Curtis played escaped convicts chained to each other. With that film, Poitier was nominated for an Academy Award as a lead actor, a historic first for a Black male actor.

David Niven won the Oscar that year for Separate Tables. Although Lilies of the Field was his only win as an actor, Poitier was presented an honorary Academy Award in 2002 for his "extraordinary performances and unique presenceon the screen and for representing the industry with dignity, style and intelligence," the Academy said.

TCM's tribute also includes A Warm December (1972), which he starred in and directed, as he transitioned into directing Uptown Saturday Night, Stir Crazy and other films in the 1970s and '80s.

Read more about each film at TCM Remembers: Sidney Poitier.

Poitier fans, however, will be disappointed with TCM's lineup. It does not include Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), A Raisin in the Sun (1961), They Call Me Mister Tibbs! (1970), Porgy and Bess (1959) or For The Love Of Ivy (1968). The Internet Movie Database has the full list of his films.

The TCM schedule:


8 p.m.: In the Heat of the Night (1967)

10 p.m.: The Defiant Ones (1958)


midnight: A Warm December (1972)

2 a.m.: Cry the Beloved Country (1952)

4 a.m.: Something of Value (1957)

6:15 a.m.: Good-bye My Lady (1956)

8:15 a.m.: Edge of the City (1957)

10 a.m.: No Way Out (1950)

noon: Blackboard Jungle (1955)

2 p.m.: To Sir With Love (1967)

4 p.m.: Lilies of the Field (1963)

6 p.m.: A Patch of Blue (1965)

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.