With nothing better to do, and hoping to get paid, travelling handyman Homer Smith (Sidney Poitier) helps out five German-speaking nuns on their small Arizona farm.
However, they hope he can be beguiled into undertaking a much bigger task for them. After fixing their leaky farmhouse roof, Homer discovers that not only will the Mother Superior not pay him for the job, but she also wants him to build their chapel for free.
Hesitant at first, Homer soon finds himself single-handedly raising the chapel and the financing. But although he will not receive a monetary reward, Homer knows that when his work is done, he’ll leave that dusty desert town a much better place than when he found it.
Sidney Poitier won only the second Oscar for a black actor in 24 years (the first went to Hattie McDaniel in Gone with the Wind) for his role here as the itinerant handyman.
James Poe’s simplistic screenplay might have become sluggishly sentimental without Ralph Nelson’s discerning direction and Poitier’s sharp humour, and the film also benefits from the distinguished performance of Lilia Skala as a formidable mother superior.