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Malcolm X (1992)

PG-13  |   |  Biography, Drama, Romance  |  18 November 1992 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 60,466 users   Metascore: 72/100
Reviews: 153 user | 62 critic | 9 from Metacritic.com

Biographical epic of the controversial and influential Black Nationalist leader, from his early life and career as a small-time gangster, to his ministry as a member of the Nation of Islam.



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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tommy Hollis ...
Jean-Claude La Marre ...
Benjamin 2X (as Jean LaMarre)
Larry McCoy ...


Biograpical epic of Malcolm X, the legendary African American leader. Born Malcolm Little, his father (a Garveyite Baptist minister) was killed by the Ku Klux Klan. Malcolm became a gangster, and while in jail discovered the Nation of Islam writings of Elijah Muhammad. He preaches the teachings when let out of jail, but later on goes on a pilgrimage to the city of Mecca, there he converts to the original Islamic religion and becomes a Sunni Muslim and changes his name to El-Hajj Malik Al-Shabazz. He is assassinated on February 21, 1965 and dies a Muslim martyr. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for a scene of violence, and for drugs and some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

18 November 1992 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

X  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$33,000,000 (estimated)


$48,169,908 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(35 mm prints)| (70 mm prints)


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Malcolm X worked as a porter on the New Haven Railroad. When researchers for the film contacted the Valley Railroad in Essex, Connecticut, looking for period rail equipment, they discovered that the railroad had a coach that Malcolm X once worked on. It had just been obtained from a train collector in Stonington, Connecticut, who had it in his backyard for decades, and was being remodeled. The producers worked with the VRR to shoot some scenes in Essex, Connecticut, and took a number of coaches to New York for filming. The coach, Great Republic, is now the First Class Parlor car on the Essex Steam Train. See more »


Malcolm and Betty's ice cream sodas go from half empty to full again between shots. See more »


[first lines]
Announcer: In the name of Allah the merciful, all praises due to Allah, Lord of all the worlds. The one God to whom praise is due forever. The one who came to us in the person of Master Fard Muhammad and raised up the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Amen.
Announcer: Asalaam-alaikum!
Crowd: Alaikum-salaam!
Announcer: How do you feel?
Crowd: Good!
Announcer: Who do we want to hear?
Crowd: Malcolm X!
Announcer: Are we gonna bring him on? Yes, we gonna bring him on. Well let us hear from our minister, Minister Malcolm X. Let us bring him on with a round of ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

There is a seperate special thanks after the normal one that says: "Thank Allah for Bill Cosby, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Oprah Winfrey, Tracy Chapman, Prince, Janet Jackson, and Peggy Cooper-Carfritz." This is because they aided Spike Lee in raising money to finish the film when the production ran into financial trouble. See more »


Referenced in Robot Chicken: Malcolm X: Fully Loaded (2011) See more »


Written by Sid Robin and Charles Shavers
Performed by Ella Fitzgerald
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Epic film does justice to its subject.
19 June 1999 | by (Marietta, GA, USA) – See all my reviews

Spike Lee struggled mightily to get 'Malcolm X' made, financially and artistically. But when all was said and done, he produced an epic blockbuster and a definite treatment of the man's life.

There's great differences between the two as well, but to me Lee has many things in common with Oliver Stone. Both of them seem to have been born to make films. Both of them are uncompromising in bringing their artistic (and moral) vision to the screen, and neither will try to seduce the public by catering to their tastes. Both present their own interpretation of facts without apology. (For example, from what I've read it's not certain that Malcolm's father was actually killed by Klansmen. But Lee isn't in the same league as Stone when it comes to playing fast and loose with the "truth.") Stone even ends his movie 'Nixon' in a similar way to 'Malcolm X,' with footage of real-life figures blended in, though I'm not accusing Stone of imitation.

This movie has an epic sweep and scope and as a director Lee is up to the challenge. He is served well by being able to direct in several styles, one of which is almost cartoonish: witness the scene where Malcolm (Denzel Washington) and Shorty (played by Lee himself) go stepping out at the Roseland Ballroom, resplendent in their zoot suits. Some comic relief is welcome at times because otherwise the serious, heavy message of the picture might be overwhelming. For instance, the movie opens with a full-screen shot of an American flag while we hear a voice-over of one of Malcolm's most rousing, or inflammatory speeches, depending on how you look at it ("I accuse the white man of being the greatest murderer on the planet!") The flag begins to burn and eventually forms a flaming 'X' as the fiery rhetoric continues. But if you haven't been scared away, the next scene shows the young man Malcolm Little in a funny situation, having his hair straightened by a concoction that threatens to burn off his scalp.

Denzel Washington has won beaucoups of rightly-deserved accolades for his amazing performance in the title role. If you've ever heard or seen Malcolm X's speaking, you will be astounded at the similarities in tone and cadence. The illusion is so real one may not recognize that real archival footage of Malcolm is used late in the film. But this is not a case of style over substance here. Between Washington's talent and Lee's directing and screenwriting, an unforgettable character emerges. The film boasts other fine performances by Al Freeman, Jr. (especially good as Elijah Muhammad, a controversial figure in society, and eventually to Malcolm himself), Delroy Lindo, Albert Hall, Kate Vernon, Ernest Thomas and many others in its large cast.

It's clear that Lee doesn't care for the Motion Picture Academy and they don't particularly care for him. But the snubbing he and his picture got at Oscar time would be comparable to Richard Attenborough and 'Ghandi' not being nominated the year that film was made. Ordinarily, one would think this film is the kind of production Hollywood loves to honor. But Academy Award nominations or not, the film 'Malcolm X' is like the man himself: impossible to ignore.

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