30 November 2015 | The_Movie_Cat
"What are you... an Uncle Tom?"
Cheaply made and often badly staged, The Mark of the Hawk is nevertheless a worthwhile venture despite its failings.
With its wordy script, in some hands it can seem poetic, notably Sidney Poitier's. (Still a year off his first star billing, despite being the nominal lead in this, his tenth movie). Yet in lesser hands it can seem leaden, ham-fisted and trite. Certainly David Goh was unlikely to take any Academy Awards for his work here, and he's not alone. Parts of the film look like one of the best dramas Poitier was ever involved with... other parts look like an amateur home movie.
The film begins with an air of sophistication, but the longer it runs, the more it starts to unravel. Poitier's intelligent militant Obam begins to turn his back on the idea of independence when he learns of the love of Jesus, the film's concept of exploring all sides of the argument evaporating for a syruppy get-out. While many of the themes are looked at from a mature perspective, the film's tagline "Against Voodoo Fury... The Flame of Faith!" was something which set out to unintentionally undermine it.
We go from a manor house party with elegantly crafted lines and gradually descend through the ranks of amusingly kitsch flashbacks, all the way down to Eartha Kitt deciding to make this political message film a light musical. A rare British movie appearance for Poitier, his future forays into this arena - A Warm December, The Wilby Conspiracy and, particularly, To Sir With Love - all reaped richer rewards. Ultimately The Mark of the Hawk goes from a lesser- known gem in his career and down to something of a missed opportunity.