7.9/10
2,197
35 user 15 critic

4 Little Girls (1997)

TV-14 | | Documentary, History | 9 July 1997 (USA)
A documentary of the notorious racial terrorist bombing of an African American church during the Civil Rights Movement.

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 7 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Maxine McNair ...
Herself - Mother of Denise McNair
Chris McNair ...
Himself - Father of Denise McNair
Helen Pegues ...
Herself - Denise's Aunt
Queen Nunn ...
Herself - Neighbor of Denise McNair
Arthur Hanes Jr. ...
Himself - Defense Attorney for Bob Chambliss
...
Himself - New York Times Editor
Harold McNair ...
Himself - Denise's Uncle
Carole C. Smitherman ...
Herself - Denise's Childhood Friend (as Carole C. Smitherman Esq.)
Wamo Reed Robertson ...
Herself - Carole's Aunt
Dianne Braddock ...
Herself - Carole's Sister
Carolyn Lee Brown ...
Herself - Carole's Childhood Friend
Alpha Robertson ...
Herself - Mother of Carole Robertson
Wyatt Tee Walker ...
Himself - Former Executive Director of SCLC
Fred Lee Shuttlesworth ...
Himself - Pres. of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights
Florence Terrell ...
Herself - School Teacher
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Storyline

This film recounts the people and events leading up to the one of the most despicable hate-crimes during the height of the civil-rights movement, the bombing of the 16th Street Church in Birmingham, Alabama. In that attack, four little African-American girls lost their lives and a nation was simultaneously revolted, angered and galvanized to push the fight for equality and justice on. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@execulink.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Birmingham, 1963. A single explosion rocked a community and awakened a sleeping nation. See more »


Certificate:

TV-14
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

9 July 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

4 маленькие девочки  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$13,528 (USA) (11 July 1997)

Gross:

$130,146 (USA) (26 September 1997)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Denise McNair was a friend and classmate of future Secretary of State 'Condoleeza Rice'. See more »

Quotes

Chris McNair: You must understand that a Bull Connor can not exist without the nods of the status quo people. You know, the big boys in any town. He can't exist without them. He may be the person who actually does the talking; but believe me the Bull Connors have the blessings of someone else.
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Connections

Referenced in Birth of the Living Dead (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

4 Little Girls
Written by Pantera Saint-Montaigne
Performed by Pantera Saint-Montaigne
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User Reviews

 
moving, informative, and two stories interwoven exceedingly well
17 July 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Spike Lee's skills as a documentarian are astonishing considering his mixed efforts in dramatic features, which ranges from greatness to failures. With 4 Little Girls and especially When the Levees Broke, Lee takes focus of the subject matter, and expands upon the narrative to make the central story intertwined without losing anything close to worthwhile to know. It goes without saying it honors the memory of those four girls slain in the church in Birmingham, but it also honors the memory for the others who died and fought in the Civl Rights battle of the early 60s (it was a battle by way of perpetration by the likes of "Bull" O'Connell, and the rabid racists like the only man who was convicted in the late 70s of the church bombing).

Lee starts off profiling the girls and their childhoods, their parents and childhood friends recounting their innocence, their energy, being simply kids growing up happy but in the midst of racism all around them. From there Lee branches off- using the "white/colored" segregation of something as minor as a water fountain, to branch off to Birmingham itself, its history, being the focal-point of much of the strife for black people in the south, Dr. King's eventual and crucial involvement, and the white racists. It's staggering information one learns, even if one already thinks they know all there is to know about the civil rights struggle. Just the information on Governor George Wallace (and, surprisingly, seeing Wallace interviewed with his near-gone voice and mind) is enough to raise repeated eyebrows in astonishment.

And then Lee brings it back to the girls again, and that fateful, cursed day that one family member said she saw in a nightmare the night before. The interviews are presented with unabashed compassion for the family members, but not with misplaced sentimentality. The case itself, and how it becomes one of the pivotal pieces that, tragedy besides, leads the civil rights movement even further, has so much power that it's impossible to dramatize it. Lee simply uses music, photographs, and the faces of those who knew these girls, as well as public figures (i.e. Kronkite, Cosby, Jesse Jackson), to accentuate the material. It's skillful storytelling, and told with a story that needs to be told, and revealed to those who may forget the horrors of the American south merely forty-something years ago and more. Simply, one of the director's finest 'joints'.


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