Ghosts of Mississippi (1996)

PG-13  |   |  Drama  |  3 January 1997 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 8,262 users  
Reviews: 56 user | 31 critic

The widow of murdered civil rights leader Medger Evers and a district attorney struggle to finally bring the murderer to justice.



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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Burt DeLaughter
Joseph Tello ...
Claire DeLaughter (as Alexa Vega)
Ben Bennett ...
Benny Bennett (as Lloyd 'Benny' Bennett)
Darrell Evers ...
Yolanda King ...
Reena Evers
James Van Evers ...
Van Evers


Ghosts of Mississippi is a drama covering the final trial of Byron De La Beckwith (Woods), the assassin of the 1960s civil rights leader Medgar Evers. It begins with the murder and the events surrounding the two initial trials which both ended in hung juries. The movie then covers District Attorney, Bobby De Laughter's (Baldwin) transformation and alliance with Myrlie Evers (Goldberg), the widow of Medgar Evers, as he becomes more involved with bringing Beckwith to trial for the third time 30 years later. Some of the characters are played by the actual participants in this story. Written by Joel Schesser <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In 1963 civil rights leader Medgar Evers was murdered in his own driveway. For 30 years his assassin has remained free. Is it ever too late to do the right thing? See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for a strong scene of violence and for racial dialogue | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

3 January 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Fantasmas del pasado  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$36,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$168,012 (USA) (20 December 1996)


$13,052,741 (USA) (14 March 1997)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(8 channels)|



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Gillian Anderson and Faith Ford both auditioned for the role of Dixie DeLaughter. See more »


When calling from the movie theater, Alec Baldwin goes to a pay phone in the lobby and dials the number without inserting any coins and is able to connect without it being a collect call. See more »


[about Medgar Evers' widow pursuing the murder case for decades]
Bobby DeLaughter: I think about her keeping this thing alive all this time. Imagine a woman loving a man so much.
Charlie Crisco: Hell, I can't even get a woman to love me while I'm still alive.
See more »


I Will Live My Life For You
Written by Henri Salvador and Marcel Stellman
Performed by Tony Bennett
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

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User Reviews

Not bad -- but we've been here before
22 June 2000 | by (Minnesooooooooota) – See all my reviews

I've seen this movie several times on the pay channels (the joys of modern television!). Overall the film is pretty good, and doesn't seem to take great license with history, which is refreshing. My only serious beef about this movie is the same as with Mississippi Burning and other films about the civil-rights struggle: Why do all of these movies insist on providing a white male central character, out to do good for the oppressed black people? Why not do this movie from the POV of Evers' widow, or brother? Because the (white male) power structure in Hollywood feels that audiences won't relate to stories without having a WASP in the middle of the action. This is not to minimize Bobby DeLaughter's role in bringing Byron de la Beckwith to justice; it's just to say that DeLaughter came along very late in the overall history of this case.

So, as to be expected, we're shown that DeLaughter braves ostracism, family conflict, and a death threat (probably a lot of them in real life). All very true, but we lose the fact that the Evers family went through all of this and more in 30 years of keeping the flame alive.

There are some good performances in here, especially James Woods, who had to be having a blast playing de la Beckwith, a mental midget and virulent racist in real life too. Baldwin is okay as DeLaughter but as bland as he normally is, even while affecting the Delta accent. Whoopi Goldberg is very good as the contemporary Myrlie Evers Williams, but ridiculous as the young widow in the flashback sequences. She's obviously too old, and it leaves you wondering if they were just too cheap to pay another actress or if Goldberg's ego is so large that she wouldn't allow it. The actor who played Evers' brother is so outstanding in such a small amount of screen time, you have to wonder why they didn't do more with him.

It's not a bad movie by any stretch, and it does give us a chance to see a little of what Medgar Evers was all about. I only wish that the film had been more about Medgar and Myrlie and much less about DeLaughter. As one other reviewer commented, this feels more like a made-for-TV movie than a theatrical release.

23 of 33 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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