7.8/10
66,231
176 user 51 critic

Mississippi Burning (1988)

Trailer
1:34 | Trailer

On Disc

at Amazon

Two FBI agents with wildly different styles arrive in Mississippi to investigate the disappearance of some civil rights activists.

Director:

Writer:

Reviews
Popularity
3,219 ( 40)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 16 wins & 24 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Billy Hayes, an American college student, is caught smuggling drugs out of Turkey and thrown into prison.

Director: Alan Parker
Stars: Brad Davis, Irene Miracle, Bo Hopkins
Angel Heart (1987)
Horror | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Harry Angel is a private investigator. He is hired by a man who calls himself Louis Cyphre to track down a singer called Johnny Favorite. But the investigation takes an unexpected and somber turn.

Director: Alan Parker
Stars: Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, Lisa Bonet
Crime | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

An intellectually nonconformist friar investigates a series of mysterious deaths in an isolated abbey.

Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud
Stars: Sean Connery, Christian Slater, Helmut Qualtinger
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A pair of NYC cops in the Narcotics Bureau stumble onto a drug smuggling job with a French connection.

Director: William Friedkin
Stars: Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider, Fernando Rey
JFK (1991)
Drama | History | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A New Orleans DA discovers there's more to the Kennedy assassination than the official story.

Director: Oliver Stone
Stars: Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Jack Lemmon
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

An African American police detective is asked to investigate a murder in a racially hostile southern town.

Director: Norman Jewison
Stars: Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Warren Oates
The Firm (1993)
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A young lawyer joins a prestigious law firm only to discover that it has a sinister dark side.

Director: Sydney Pollack
Stars: Tom Cruise, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Gene Hackman
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A paranoid, secretive surveillance expert has a crisis of conscience when he suspects that a couple he is spying on will be murdered.

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Stars: Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield
No Way Out (1987)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A coverup and witchhunt occur after a politician accidentally kills his mistress.

Director: Roger Donaldson
Stars: Kevin Costner, Gene Hackman, Sean Young
Birdy (1984)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

After two friends return home from the Vietnam War one becomes mentally unstable and obsesses with becoming a bird.

Director: Alan Parker
Stars: Matthew Modine, Nicolas Cage, John Harkins
Cape Fear (1991)
Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A convicted rapist, released from prison after serving a fourteen-year sentence, stalks the family of the lawyer who originally defended him.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

"The Washington Post" reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncover the details of the Watergate scandal that leads to President Richard Nixon's resignation.

Director: Alan J. Pakula
Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Jack Warden
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Mrs. Pell
...
...
...
Sheriff Ray Stuckey
...
...
...
Lester Cowens
Badja Djola ...
Agent Monk
...
Agent Bird
...
Eulogist
Thomas B. Mason ...
Judge (as Tom Mason)
...
Rick Zieff ...
Passenger
Edit

Storyline

Two FBI agents investigating the murder of civil rights workers during the 60s seek to breach the conspiracy of silence in a small Southern town where segregation divides black and white. The younger agent trained in FBI school runs up against the small town ways of his former Sheriff partner. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

1964. When America was at war with itself.


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

27 January 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Three Lives for Mississippi  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$34,603,943 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(DeLuxe)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Many of the extras participating in Clayton Townley's speech scene were actual members of the Ku Klux Klan and used their clan membership cards as ID (according to Stephen Tobolowsky in Stephen Tobolowsky's Birthday Party (2005)). See more »

Goofs

The street signs are green with white writing. In the 60's they would have been white with black writing. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Driver: Uh, oh.
Passenger: What is it?
Passenger: [seeing the car behind them] What do they want?
Driver: I don't know... just pass me... pass me...
Driver: [trying to identify the following car] Is it a cop?
Passenger: I can't see.
[they are hit from behind]
Driver: What the fuck are these jokers playin' at?
Rear passenger: Oh, they ain't playin', you better believe it.
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Micmacs (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Try Jesus
Words and Music by Roberta Martin
Performed by Vesta Williams
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Maybe a bit too much of a film but still enjoyable
7 December 2003 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

When three young civil rights workers (two white and one black) going missing in the deep south of America, the FBI send two agents in to investigate. Liberal young agent Ward and cynical local agent Anderson both approach the case in different ways, however both come up against a wall of silence and racism which seems to go all the way through the community, making their task near impossible.

What do I mean when I say this is a bit too much of a film? Well, the issues, history and settings here are all semi-factual and therefore should be quite an interesting film that attacks the heart. Instead however, it is a thriller type film – and this becomes more and more evident as it goes on. The final 30 minutes set aside themes and discussion and go right for a thriller climax with enjoyable touches. However it does lose sight of the issues, although, in fairness, it didn't have too good a grasp on them in the first place.

The film never really sets out to do much more than paint the community as racist – and it does it rather too easily. All the white racists are painted as inbred and monstrous (I'm not complaining!) while the black characters are all pretty much a silent group of extras. I understand why the film did it this way, as to allow development of characters on both sides would have caused the thriller side of it to become baggier and less effective. As it is, the broad strokes still work because I don't think many of us need to really be convinced that such racism is tolerable: it's easier just to cut out the debate in a thriller.

The plot is pretty good and does paint the black situation pretty well. It works best as a thriller though and early attempts to show the divide and so on are slowly moved to the back burner in favour of thriller touches. Aside from a total lack of black characters and a tendency just to pigeon hole the white characters, the cast do a reasonable job, with plenty of well known faces. Dafoe is good in the lead, despite being a little too wide-eyed for a FBI agent in charge of a major case. Also, watching it now, it's funny at times because he sounds very like Agent Smith when he says `Mr Anderson'. Hackman overplays to good effect and he steals almost every scene he is in, although his romancing of McDormand is a little drawn out. The support cast includes some reasonable turns from well-known faces including Dourif, Ermey and Tobolowsky.

Overall this film has a reputation for being a quite powerful issue film. However it reality it is more a thriller which uses this setting of racial hatred as it's background and driver, rather than looking into it as a debate. In fairness, it doesn't suffer for this and is actually an enjoyable film, which also serves as a reminder of a very common situation only a few short years ago.


28 of 44 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
I Do Not Think Pell Deserved The Beating In The Barbershop, Agree? matoschi
Did Pell Deserve The Beating In The Barbershop? matoschi
The South nowadays ravviann
best line in the film... HapppinessAZ
Wake up, people! sassysweethart64
Anderson and Mrs. Pell sarajasmine8
Discuss Mississippi Burning (1988) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?