Life is rough in the coal mines of 1876 Pennsylvania. A secret group of Irish immigrant miners, known as the Molly Maguires, fights against the cruelty of the mining company with sabotage ... See full summary »
Film screenwriter Jake Armitage and his wife Jo Armitage live in London with six of Jo's eight children, with the two eldest boys at boarding school. The children are spread over Jo's three... See full summary »
Poster writes a gossip column for the Morning Gazette. He will write about anyone and everyone as long as he gets the credit. He gets most of his information from his gal, Peggy who is a ... See full summary »
William A. Seiter
Emma is a divorced woman with a teen-aged son who moves into a small town and tries to make a go of a horse ranch. Murphy is the widowed town druggist who steers business her way. Things ... See full summary »
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
Recently, Ken Burns wrote an editorial calling on Americans to make amends for what they as a society did to Jack Johnson. "The Great White Hope" shows what American society did to him.
James Earl Jones plays Johnson, called Jack Jefferson here (the movie is fictionalized). He was everything that a black man in the early 20th century was not supposed to be: assertive, proud, and married to a white woman. His wife Eleanor (Jane Alexander) accepted him for who he was. Naturally, white people didn't like their marriage one bit; the black population believed that Johnson was "...gainin' an attraction to the white man's poon tang." Ostracized from society, Jack and Eleanor tried to live privately, but they were constantly hounded. Jack became increasingly abusive towards Eleanor, until she took her own life. Distraught, Jack went in for one last showdown in Cuba.
Regardless of what you think of the movie overall, it's important because it shows a part of our history that we may never be able to get over, and in fact are still addressing today. Director Martin Ritt espouses the same kind of social awareness that he discussed in "Hud", "Sounder", "Conrack" and "The Front". A masterpiece.
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