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The Greatest (1977)

Muhammad Ali stars as himself in this dramatised version of his life story up to the late 1970s. It includes his Olympic triumphs as Cassius Clay, his conversion to Islam, his refusal of ... See full summary »

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(based on: "The Greatest: My Own Story" by), (based on: "The Greatest: My Own Story" by) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Dr. Ferdie Pacheco
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Payton Jory
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Mrs. Fairlie
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John the Gardener (as Theodore R. Wilson)
Annazette Chase ...
Mira Waters ...
Ruby Sanderson
Chip McAllister ...
Cassius Clay Aged 18 (as Phillip 'Chip' McAllister)
Drew Bundini Brown ...
Drew 'Bundini' Brown (as Drew 'Bundini' Brown)
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Bill McDonald
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Cruikshank
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Hollis
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Storyline

Muhammad Ali stars as himself in this dramatised version of his life story up to the late 1970s. It includes his Olympic triumphs as Cassius Clay, his conversion to Islam, his refusal of the Army draft and the legal battle after being stripped of his World Title. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The story of a legend that took the world by storm. See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama | Sport

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

19 August 1977 (Ireland)  »

Also Known As:

El más grande  »

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Technical Specs

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Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Ernest Borgnine in his biography, there was a strong relationship which rose between him and Cassius Clay during the shooting. Muhammad Ali cried when he saw Borgnine's character weep during one scene. See more »

Goofs

Ali is shown fighting Joe Bugner during the montage of bouts that took place between the first Frazier fight in 1971 and the first Norton fight in 1973.

However the footage is actually taken from the second fight with Bugner in 1975 instead of their first fight in 1973. Not only is this out of sequence for the montage but the second Bugner fight occurred after the Ali vs Foreman fight in 1974 which is the climax of the film. See more »

Connections

Featured in Century of Black Cinema (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

I Always Knew I Had It In Me
Sung by George Benson
Music by Michael Masser
Lyrics by Gerry Goffin
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User Reviews

 
Ali can't play Ali!
13 March 2006 | by (Lincoln, England) – See all my reviews

THE GREATEST is a lamentable attempt to chronicle the tumultuous life and career of self-proclaimed 'Greatest boxer of all-time', Muhammad Ali, between the fourteen year period of his 1960 olympic success and regaining the world title against George Foreman in 1974. This flat, boring and unrealistic mess fails in every department, it doesn't entertain the movie fan, or enlighten the boxing aficionado. Ali plays himself - and doesn't do a very good job of it. The spontaneity, charisma, energy and humour that Ali displayed in his televised real life press conferences is sadly missing from his screen performance. What we get is a subdued, below-par Ali, sometimes mumbling and slurring his lines, making hard work of Ring Lardner's lackadaisical script and the inept direction of Tom Gries. James Earl Jones, who has a very brief cameo as Malcolm X, summed up Ali's acting ability with succinct honesty: 'Given his own words, he was a great performer, but given somebody else's words there was a self-consciousness that he was unable to overcome. Ali wasn't a great craftsman in the art of acting'.

Jones doesn't come out of this movie with much credit either. He's much too bulky and aged to convince as the dynamic Malcolm X. The only really good performance comes from Ben Johnson as the head of the syndicate who sponsor Ali after his olympic triumph. Johnson once starred in MIGHTY JOE YOUNG, in which a world heavyweight boxing champion, Primo Carnera, spars with a gorilla, the irony of which was not lost on me as I viewed this movie - given Ali's nickname for his bitter ring rival Joe Frazier.

In between the Acting-By-Numbers sequences, clips of Ali's real fights are shown. Grainy b/w footage of Ali battering Lamar Clark, Archie Moore and Willie Besmanoff, plus a montage in colour of his comeback bouts against Buster Mathis, George Chuvalo, Jerry Quarry, Floyd Patterson, Bob Foster, Joe Bugner and Ken Norton. What I found interesting was seeing his old amateur foe and gym-mate Jimmy Ellis once again sparring with Ali just before the second Norton fight. Ellis was one of the very few boxers to beat Ali as an amateur, in 1958 at Louisville.

There is a dedication at the end of the movie to director Tom Gries, who sadly died immediately after filming was completed. For a far better tribute to Gries talent, see the great Charlton Heston western WILL PENNY.


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