It became fashionable for a while to downplay the contribution of Sidney Poitier to movies — the charge was that too many of his characters were overly schematic responses to racist caricatures of the past (in other words, they were too perfect). Still, his characters were never plaster saints, he was simply too good an actor to ever allow that even if some of his parts were written that way, and there’s never been any denying that he fought the civil rights battle on the cinematic front with as much grace and charisma as anyone could even ask for.

Here he is the gently humorous and moving final scene from the 1964 comedy-drama “Lillies of the Field,” in which he teaches some German nuns a little bit of soulful gospel.