but words can never hurt me

No Way OutLately we have hit on a block of stuff on Netflix that is obviously stuff that I put in the queue, but have no recollection of queuing it, or even having heard of it. Too much late night film blog reading I imagine. But so far, the stuff isn’t bad, though it does lean a bit too heavily on the drama side. And speaking of drama…

This time around we watched No Way Out, which seems to be Sidney Poitier’s first movie. And a very dramatic tale it is. A story of the racial tension that erupts when a pair of bankrobbers/brothers who are wounded in a shootout get taken to the hospital prison ward. One of them dies there, while under the watchful eyes of his brother and under the care of a black physician. Of course, his brother being rather anger filled and ignorant of quite a few things, accuses the doctor of murder and swears revenge. Sydney Poitier is Dr. Brooks, a young intern who just happens to be assigned to the hospital’s prison ward at the wrong time and Richard Widmark is Ray, a frustrated man who is so blinded by his hatred and desire for vengeance against the world that he is basically incoherent. But not too incoherent to flame this vengeance, from his hospital bed no less! He uses the local femme fatale to make sure that the word of his brothers “murder” spreads to the unsavory part of town where they are from and from there, things take on a new life.

 

No Way Out

 

No Way Out features lots of double-crossing, a race riot and plenty of language that I find bewildering to hear in a film, being someone who was raised in the (I wouldn’t’ say racist-free but at least rasicsm “unacceptable”) era following the 1960’s. This film is filled with a stream of slurs and the feeling is akin to watching reruns of All In The Family if you haven’t seen them in many years. I do appreciate all of these old movies about race issues and the light that they tended to show racists in. Though this one is pretty old for that, being from 1950, it still has a lot of “they said what?” moments.

 

No Way Out

 

The movie is a waiting game where you watch Poitier having endless slurs, threats and insults heaped upon him (and not just from Ray), and wondering if (or when) is he going to snap. A great film with great drama and tension and some violence. Poitier and Widmark are both great and quite convincing here. Though the contrast between Poitier’s endless caring and Widmark’s endless shallow hostility is almost a bit too much, you do get the feeling that Poitier might cave on his values before Widmark does. Poitier is so compassionate that it seems to overwhelm him at times and he shows a great resolve to ignore what is forced upon him and just continue to do the best job that he can… But as the threats of violence expand their scope, it does start to seem like there is no way out, and how much can we expect the poor doctor to take?


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