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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Great film and superior acting by John Earl Jones and a great supporting cast

10/10
Author: AltonTyre2276 from United States
30 January 2005

This is must see for those who are unfamiliar with heroes of the Civil Rights Movement prior to Brown v. the Board of Education and Martin Luther King, Jr. James Earl Jones powerfully portrays a man with all of the courage of Martin Luther King, Jr., but with a more blunt and direct approach. The film masterfully shows how a leader like Dr. King and those who worked with him would have not been as effective had it not been for leaders like Dr. Johns, who were willing to "push the envelope". I teach Social Studies at Southern Nash High School in Bailey, North Carolina and I use this film regularly in class and get the best response to it of any of the films I show. In a film career that has featured numerous brilliant performances by Mr. Jones, I believe that this is his best work. The supporting cast of veteran actors Mary Alice, the late Joe Seneca, and a newcomer at the time, Nicole Leach, is top notch and they play effectively off of Jones.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

A great story and fantastic film.

Author: Steven Fletcher from Bolton, UK
30 June 1999

The film tells the story of the Reverend Vernon Johns' struggle for equality in America in the 1960's.

James Earl Jones delivers an all-round stunning dialog playing the reverend of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama - a name that most should recognise.

He constantly oversteps his mark when preaching, telling the people who let the white americans run their lives what he -really- thinks of them, cowards, and as he gains more and more attention - eventually demanding to be served in a white-only cafe, but at the end of the film there comes a fantastic little twist.

A very worthwhile watch!

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

What I NEVER learned in school

10/10
Author: Splashdown27 from United States
23 November 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is the story of Pastor Vernon Johns who, with his family, moved to Montgomery in 1948. He started, with several others, what i would consider one of THE greatest acts against segregation in a deeply prejudiced south. This movie is making me want to really learn more about Pastor Johns and his time from before the pastorship at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery. He showed great courage in standing up for what he and others believed, and it wasn't just in desegregation, but human equality and the word of God. While doing so, he did see the evil consequences for his standing up against the prejudicial society of Montgomery. His family was brutally terrorized. The white prejudiced people harassed them and the people of the communities who were black. What a horrific horrific thing for ANYONE of ANY COLOR to go through.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Very good but disturbing

Author: vchimpanzee
17 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In Montgomery, Alabama, before the Civil Rights Movement, the deacons of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church want Dr. Vernon Johns to be their pastor--despite the fact that he has been let go from numerous churches. The latest of these was in Charleston, West Virginia; Dr. Johns claims the people there were uppity, while the deacons in Montgomery believe that church wasn't willing to adapt to change. And theirs will be?

Black doctors and lawyers go to Dexter Avenue. As Deacon Wilkes, a mortician, drives Dr. Johns across town in his fine car, they pass a number of poor blacks. Deacon Wilkes points out that those aren't Dexter Avenue people. Dr. Johns says none of us are better than "the least of these".

The church is packed for Dr. Johns' first sermon. Some people have to stand outside and listen through speakers. What Dr. Johns says is not what these people want to hear, more than likely. The specific scripture is not mentioned in the movie, but the story is recorded in Luke 16:19-31. The rich man went to Hell and saw Lazarus in Heaven, and begged Lazarus for water.

Dr. Johns sees prejudice against his people. He tells his children they will walk to school rather than riding a segregated bus, and that his family will not deal with segregated businesses. He begins telling his members they should do business with other black people, not with the whites who only want their money. To set an example, he grows his own watermelons and other produce, embarrassing his members by selling them outside the church.

Dr. Johns wants to see change, and he preaches to his members that they must be held accountable for not doing more for their own people. Deacon Wilkes is content with the progress his people are making, but Dr. Johns is not. As he takes steps to make change happen, he gets white people angry in Montgomery, and he upsets his own members as well.

The movie ends with Dr. Martin Luther King taking over as Dexter Avenue's pastor. Eric Ware captures the civil rights leader's style so effectively, I just wonder if a recording of King himself was used.

James Earl Jones gives his usual fine performance, with a bonus. Of course, Dr. Johns is kind and caring when he can be. But he is stern and demanding with his children, who still know he loves them (No licking ice cream--it makes you look like a dog! Being teased builds character!). He will not back down from those who want to stand in his way. And he gets angry! He is a powerful preacher, but not charismatic in the way King was.

Other outstanding performances come from Joe Seneca as Deacon Wilkes, Mary Alice as the wife whose patience with her husband is running out, and Tommy Hollis as Deacon Hill, a football coach who stands up for Dr. Johns after realizing he is right.

Nicole Leach has an angelic singing voice. She also does a capable job playing Dr. Johns' oldest daughter. Cissy Houston displays even more talent than her more famous daughter Whitney--as Rose the pianist, she refuses to play spirituals. That's just not done here! As an actress, she shows a lot of attitude. She has a wonderful singing style as well.

Certain words are used here that rarely make it onto network TV these days. The expression abbreviated "G. D." was apparently bleeped from the Golden Globe Awards, for example, but Dr. Johns uses it twice. And the N-word is said numerous times. Also the nickname for a cute masked mammal. There is also a beating similar to that of Rodney King, and we see the aftermath of a rape.

As is often the case with movies such as this, my people are not portrayed in a positive way. Most whites here are hateful. Judge Blake wants to keep blacks subservient and likes the attitude of Deacon Wilkes, who goes along with what he says. One white doctor insists on treating a black patient, but he is warned what will happen if he does.

This is an important movie for all to see. A number of people had to stand up for what is right to make change happen, though this movie differs in one important area you'll just have to watch to see. As with other movies like this one, blacks and other minorities will see how things were and how they shouldn't take for granted their current status, though it is not perfect. Whites will be reminded how they shouldn't behave.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Excellent though painful to watch

8/10
Author: (cecc2ster@gmail.com) from United States
23 January 2006

I saw the movie on TV a few days ago and thought it was excellent. It was good on two levels: acting and education. James Earl Jones did a superb job of displaying emotion, focus passion and vision. My heart was heavy as I watched the brutal and heartless treatment of blacks. I am glad that much of the outward side of racism is diminishing but I don't know if peoples' hearts have changed that much and that is where true change takes place. It was hard to watch but for those of us who have not been around that kind of racism it was a needed reminder to participate towards equality.

The change that took place in the older daughter was at the expense of much pain but her decision to go for the higher cause will always be the price of change.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

cool

10/10
Author: jrs_web_hosting from United States
20 January 2006

This is must see for those who are unfamiliar with heroes of the Civil Rights Movement prior to Brown v. the Board of Education and Martin Luther King, Jr. James Earl Jones powerfully portrays a man with all of the courage of Martin Luther King, Jr., but with a more blunt and direct approach. The film masterfully shows how a leader like Dr. King and those who worked with him would have not been as effective had it not been for leaders like Dr. Johns, who were willing to "push the envelope". I teach Social Studies at Southern Nash High School in Bailey, North Carolina and I use this film regularly in class and get the best response to it of any of the films I show. In a film career that has featured numerous brilliant performances by Mr. Jones, I believe that this is his best work. The supporting cast of veteran actors Mary Alice, the late Joe Seneca, and a newcomer at the time, Nicole Leach, is top notch and they play effectively off of Jones.

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Was a very nice movie overall

Author: johnvernick3 from United States
4 April 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie was a pretty good movie overall, it showed that civil rights movments were occurring across the country before Martin Luther King Junior came in to play. One thing I find very interesting about the movie is that Vernon John was a pastor at the same church Martin Luther King would later be the head pastor of . Vernon John was one of the main roots of starting civil rights like not riding the bus and refusing to movie from a whites only seat. He was also not afraid to stand up for what he believed while preaching also all his messages contained so sort of content about how racial segregation needed to end not just his Alabama but across America. Even when some of his own fellow African Americans asked him to stop he still wen on preaching the message that African Americans are separate but they are not equal.

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a powerful man with a powerful message

10/10
Author: cliff may from United Kingdom
12 July 2014

An outstanding performance by James Earl Jones playing the pastor Vernon johns, and he does not mince his words. Some parts make you laugh, cry, and angry, but ultimately it inspires. His words "If you see a good fight, get in it" really sum up the man who inspired history. The supporting cast are excellent with Nicole leach (who plays his daughter) just trying to fit in to a society which is happy to keep her as a 2nd class citizen. Many at the time felt to scared to rock the boat, apart from Johns who in his own words is a "boat rocker"! Althougth i watched this film for the first time about 15 years ago, it has stayed with me and i wished that more people could see it, even if it may teach a lesson about history and about the fact that behind great men there is often other great men without whom they would have never become..well, Great!

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Well done portrayal of The Founder of the civil rights movement in the U.S.

8/10
Author: Brigid O Sullivan (wisewebwoman) from Toronto, Canada
16 November 2013

This film was a surprise in that it tells, and tells extraordinarily well, Reverend Vernon Johns' courage and conviction and struggle for equality in America in the Alabama of the 1960's just prior to the arrival of Dr. Martin King Jr. on the scene.

James Earl Jones is thoroughly convincing in the role and he delivers the performance of his career in this true story.

He breaches the barriers of white prejudice and tells it like it is for the white power that existed then, and alas, at times today. Jones is ably supported by a great cast and intelligent script and direction. I loved the freeze frames fading to black and white.

Well done, all! 8 out of 10.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A strong reminder of the vileness of hatefulness that still exists.

Author: Craig Chilton (xanadu@mchsi.com) from United States
27 January 2007

I saw this movie for the first time tonight (1/27/07) and wished I'd seen it 13 years earlier. What a powerful film!!

In the early 1960s, as a college student, I was a white Civil Rights activist in Mississippi, and as such, I viewed with the deepest possible disgust the predecessors of today's equally-bigoted louts. It was the segregationists then, and today, it's the more mild-mannered and somewhat less blatant cultists of the "Religious" Radical Right. The ignorant and deceived people who seek to FORCE tens of millions of women to gestate unwanted pregnancies to term against their will (a very real, 9-month-long form of rape!), and who regard gays to be second-class citizens on the ludicrous basis of something so trivial as the way they choose to have sex in private. The 21st century thus is little better than the mid-20th. The bigots and their targets have changed, but the abject ignorance and hatefulness has not, and continues to poison American society.

Unfortunately, America still has a LOT of growing up do do, and there's still a lot of bigotry to dispose of. Civil Rights Movement II is as important to tens of millions of people as was the first one. Women and gays NEED a leader for today of the stature of leaders like Rev. Vernon Johns.

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