The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, April 6-12

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No Way Out (1950)
Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
The Bahamian-American actor Sidney Poitier’s first starring film role arrived at age twenty-two as a young doctor defending himself against charges leveled by a racist criminal (played by Richard Widmark) of murdering the crook’s possibly brain tumor-inflicted brother during treatment. As a medic demanding the autopsy that he believes will clear his name, Poitier defined the persona he would hone throughout subsequent decades of stardom: A gracefully erect, self-made man who is filled with righteous anger over how others perceive him and striving to hold his tongue. His Dr. Brooks is stalled by the fact of needing permission from the deceased man’s hateful family to examine the body, and in response, pushes his way aggressively and fruitlessly towards obtaining it. An epiphany comes late in the film when a woman spits in the doctor’s face, leading him to realize that he must ultimately travel a nonviolent path in order to reach and spread the truth. In contrast to the verbal and physical abuse employed by Widmark’s hoodlum and the many people (both black and white) whose rage he works to stir up, the most forceful movement Poitier’s character makes is turning a cheek. Aaron Cutler (April 9, 2pm at the Museum of the Moving Image’s Poitier series; introduction by series curator Mia Mask)

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