>For The Love Of Hired Help.

>Late yesterday afternoon while watching one of my favorite channels, Turner Classic Movies (TCM), I happened to catch the sixties flick, For Love of Ivy

…starring the great Sidney Poitier (they actually ran a string of his films back-to-back) and multi-talented actress/jazz singer Abbey Lincoln.

Released in 1968, it was the first mainstream film out of Hollywood to maturely depict love between a black man and a black woman.

The premise: Ivy, a black maid, tells the white family that she’s been employed by for nine years that she’s leaving. She explains that it’s not them, it’s her. She wants to better herself, leave their house in Long Island and head into the big city (NYC), go to secretarial school, focus on a future, HAVE A DAMN LIFE.

The fuck you say?????????

The family, headed by the late Carroll O’Connor, is not trying to hear it. Not. at. all. Ivy explains it doesn’t mean she doesn’t love them, there’s just no future for her in BEING THEIR MAID FOREVER. Actually, Carroll O’Connor’s character is like what’s the big deal, we’ll get another maid, but the mother and the now-adult kids are up in arms. They love Ivy. Ivy must stay. So one of the kids (played by a young Beau Bridges) hatches the hare-brained idea a plan to keep her around: they’re gonna find Ivy some romance!!! That’ll quash that silly wanderlust phase she’s going through. Because, really, isn’t that the answer to every black maid’s prayers? A dude? Some dick? (I wonder if this works on Latina maids.)

A dude. With a dick.*


Black love, potentially foiled plans, resistant bachelorhood, and desperate white folks ensue.

Mind you, this is a really touching, sweet movie that is enjoyable to watch. It’s just that general premise (“how dare our black maid leave!“) that sticks in my colored craw. According to The Internet Movie Database, Sidney Poitier is the one who came up with this story (the script was written by someone else, Robert Alan Aurthur). It’s worth checking out if you’ve never seen it. The black characters are the main storyline and the white folks and their wily machinations pretty much fade to black (ha!!) until things start to really hit the fan.

*No offense, Sidney. I greatly admire you and the trails you’ve blazed for us. But, technically speaking, you do have a dick. Don’t you? I’m just sayin’.

Amazon.com: For Love of Ivy
TCM.com: For Love of Ivy
The Internet Movie Database: For Love of Ivy

One thought on “>For The Love Of Hired Help.

  1. >This reminds me that I really need to revisit the movies of my childhood. I do remember the movie but didn't remember much about it. Actually, it also reminded me Ms. Lincoln was an actress at one time — I love her music.Folk (read, white folk) have some interesting relationships with their domestics. We own/operate several multifamily buildings that have an elderly population. In several instances our residents are taken care of by the adult children or grandchildren of families where they were once domestics. Many times there has been a trust fund established with clear instructions on how to take care of the former maid/housekeeper/nanny (or was that mammy).In one of our condo complexes a family purchased a unit for their former housekeeper/nanny to live in as long as she is alive. I don't even think she pays her own phone bill — it's all paid for. I asked the guy one day about it in a very vague way and he was clear that Mrs. R had been more of a mother and grandmother to him and his children than he actual relatives and he wanted to show his gratitude. He credited her with him being the person he is.I can tell I am getting older/wiser — I have a anecdote for almost every post that has a "historical" slant.


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