Ghosts of Mississippi is a real-life drama covering the final trial of Byron De La Beckwith, the assassin of heroic civil rights leader Medgar Evers. The movie begins with the murder on June 12, 1963 and the events surrounding the two initial trials which both ended in hung juries. The movie then covers district attorney Bobby De Laughter's transformation and alliance with Myrlie Evers, Medgar Evers' widow, as he becomes more involved with bringing Beckwith to trial for the third time 30 years later. Byron De La Beckwith was convicted on February 5, 1994, after having remained a free man for much of the 30 years after the murder, giving justice for Medgar Evers' family. Written by
Joel Schesser <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Both Medgar Evers' wife, Myrlie Evers, and older brother, Charles Evers, tried their hand at politics. In 1970, Myrlie Evers ran unsuccessfully against John H. Rousselot for U.S. Congress twice. In 1987, Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley appointed her to the Board of Public Works, making her the city's first African American female board member. In 1995, she was elected chairperson of the NAACP, at the time when the organization had financial and other difficulties. The organization's image and financial status improved during her term, and she did not seek re-election in 1998. On January 21, 2013, she delivered the invocation at the second inauguration of President Barack Obama. She was the first woman and the first layperson to deliver the invocation at a presidential inauguration. In 1963 Charles Evers took over Medgar Evers' position as field secretary of the NAACP in Mississippi. In 1969, he became the Mayor of Fayette, Mississippi and the first African-American mayor in the state in the post-Reconstruction era. He kept the position until 1981, when he lost his re-election bid. In 1985, he won the mayorship again, but lost the position again in 1989. In 1971, he unsuccessfully ran for governor. In 1978, he unsuccessfully ran for the Senate. He was an informal adviser to Lyndon Johnson, George Wallace (once he softened his pro-racist positions), Ronald Reagan, and Robert F. Kennedy. He supported Ronald Reagan for President in 1980. He eventually joined the Republican Party. He supported Donald Trump for President in 2016. See more »
Although the film begins in 1989 and ends in 1994, the same child actors portraying Bobby DeLaughter's children are used from the beginning of the movie until the end, showing no signs of aging. See more »
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.
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