No Way Out

Sidney Poitier's feature film debut in No Way Out would prove to be career-defining. His mature performance as a young doctor breaking down racial barriers under hostile circumstances embodies the combination of emotional intensity and grace that would become his hallmark. This film also marks the first time acting couple Ossie Davis (in his debut) and Ruby Dee appeared on screen together. Often cited as opening the door to the social drama genre that emerged in the 1950s, No Way Out was controversial upon release for its uncompromisingly graphic exploration of racial violence. The film's progressive depiction of an African American community defending itself in the face of attack by a racist mob prompted censors in several states to delete such scenes on the grounds they were “too provocative.” The NAACP, which protested the film's explicit use of racial epithets, condemned the deletion of the self-defense scenes, arguing that with the cuts “the film's original message (was) hopelessly lost.”

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