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Alan J. Pakula
Boxer Jack Jefferson (James Earl Jones) is the world's reigning heavyweight boxing champion. There's just one problem, he is also the first black heavyweight champion, and that bothers a lot of people. Jack's celebration is cut short, as Jack is framed for crossing a state line with Eleanor, his white fiancé (Jane Alexander in her first film role), a violation of the Mann Act. Facing a prison sentence, Jack escapes to Europe, with Eleanor in tow, encountering problems in England, and then France, and eventually landing in Cuba. In Havana, Jack agrees to enter the boxing ring for what might be the bout of his life. Both Jones and Alexander were nominated for Oscars. Written by
In addition to Jack Jefferson being based on Jack Johnson, several other characters are based on real life individuals. Frank Brady is a stand-in for Jim Jeffries, the former heavyweight champion who came out of retirement to try to end Johnson's title reign, Cap'n Dan is based on "Gentleman" Jim Corbett, the racist former champion refused to fight black men as champion, and the Kid is a stand-in for Jess Willard, the fighter who eventually beat Johnson for the title in Havana in 1915. Eleanor is a composite of two white women Johnson married, Etta Duryea, and Lucille Cameron, who he fled the country with after being convicted. See more »
In the first scene in which we see Jefferson practicing, the sweat on his shirt changes from shot to shot in a way that wouldn't be predicted by evaporation. See more »
[after they convince Brady to fight Jefferson]
Good. So it's fixed Cap'n Dan.
The man's in a hurry, Fred
What about terms?
What? We're no babies here. You know my Jackie would fight your boy for a *nickel*.
What? A world's championship?
80-20, that's it.
God bless America.
And Cap'n Dan to be the referee.
You're kidding me.
[...] See more »
Screenplay by Howard Sackler Based on his play See more »
Before I fully begin, let me make one thing clear: The emphasis in this film is not boxing, but the life of a boxer (Jack Johnson) played by James Earl Jones (Darth Vader).
In telling the tale of Johnson's life this movie depicts the racial boundaries going on in America in the early 20th century. Unlike many films which tell a tale of racial injustice, this film manages to do it:
a) Without sugar coating anything. b) Without being over-dramatic.
I saw it today on television and I didn't know what to expect before it started. I was interested to see it because I've heard references made to it in the past and was curious. I can say for certain that giving this film a chance, and watching it beginning to end, is the best movie-related decision I've made in a long time (at least ten-thousand times better than deciding to rent Resident Evil 2).
In watching this I got a deep sense of reality. A big reason for this is a simply phenomenal performance by James Earl Jones, as well as solid acting on the part of Jane Alexander and many of the supporting cast members.
I couldn't believe that IMDb only has 8 reviews of this movie (at least at the time of me writing this), and due to some folks totally missing the point of it, it has a somewhat sad rating.
SEE this film if you are into compelling stories about interesting people which are well written and acted.
DON'T see this film if you expect Rocky III.
There are a lot of good movies out there and I enjoy all manner of cinema, but I can say without a doubt in my mind that The Great White Hope has made it into the realm of my favorites.
10 out of 10
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