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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
I had to order this movie online to see it, as it has disappeared from local video stores up here in the "progressive" Northeast. Since it was made only in 1997 and much older films are still readily accessible one wonders if perhaps the reason for its scarcity up here is its presentation of Wallace as something other than the standard, portrait of an ignorant, cardboard cutout racist, a conception which make the liberal New England chest swell with self-satisfied, holier-than-thou virtue.
I remember seeing, years ago, video coverage on the evening news of Wallace's farewell speech as governor to the Alabama state house employees. As the cameras panned over the crowd - vastly minority - tears were streaming down as many black faces as white. I knew then that there was an untold story here. This, one of the brilliant John Frankenheimer's last productions, tells that story. The acting, pacing, dramatic line and production values are all first rate.
One would have wished for a bit more time given to the apoplexy which Wallace's presidential drives in the 60's gave to the powers-that-be in both parties. We forget that Wallace's successes in the northeast as a candidate who articulated the disenfranchisement felt by the middle class, was a huge factor in the movement of the country away from LBJ liberalism and towards conservatism, culminating in the elections of Richard Nixon (himself no conservative, though he ran as one) and ultimately Ronald Reagan.
An iconoclastic film which deserves all the awards it received. Just don't try to find in the video stores north of the Mason/Dixon line.
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