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A story about former Alabama governor George Wallace, whose views on racial segregation put him against the US government and at the forefront opposing the Civil Rights Movement. Mainly set from 1955 to 1972 with flashbacks, it tells the story of this governor, said to be in the USA, 'the greatest political loser of all time', having stood for the US presidency four times and losing each time. And how loss, pain and suffering would eventually lead him to renounce what he once stood for. Written by
Gary Sinise delivers a superb performance in the biographical television film George Wallace. I well remember Wallace from back in the sixties and Sinise is so good in the part you think you're seeing home movies of Wallace, albeit a slightly skinnier version.
No southern politician since Huey Long had the impact of Wallace on the national scene. He was a product of the white backlash to the Brown vs. Board of Education School integration decision of the Supreme Court. Wallace, previously a moderate who lost a gubernatorial primary in 1958, courted the die-hard segregationist vote in 1962 and won the first of several terms as Governor of Alabama. It was a platform that he used to rattle both the Democratic and Republican parties for several years.
He unleashed a lot of dark and evil forces beyond even what he knew and maybe he never realized the full extent of them even after the attempted assassination of him at a presidential campaign rally in Laurel, Maryland in 1972. But he had to come to grips with pain and suffering as he never did before and maybe he caught a bit of empathy for those of the disenfranchised he'd demagogued against previously.
It is a fact that the former poster boy for race segregation got a large amount of black support in his final race for Governor in 1986.
Sinise is aided and abetted by good performances by Clarence Williams, III who serves as a kind of Greek Chorus, a fictional black servant at the Governor's mansion who is Wallace's sounding board as neither his two wives became.
Mare Winningham who is the small town girl Lurleen who he married and who just wanted a normal home life. She became part of his ambitions when she was elected Governor herself in a ploy to get around Alabama's term limit law. Winningham is as I remember Lurleen Wallace and conceive of what she was like in her private life.
Angelina Jolie in a break out role for her plays Wallace's second wife Cornelia who was the niece of former Governor Jim Folsom played her ably by Joe Don Baker. After Wallace was shot and paralyzed and lost the control of a number of lower body functions, she tries as best she can to adjust. A whole lot is against it though in both her's and his personalities.
George Wallace is a much better than average made for TV product, it probably should have gotten a theatrical release. It's a portrait of some dark corners of America and shouldn't be missed.
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