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Blind Faith (1998)

R | | Drama | 20 January 1998 (USA)
In 1957, black lawyer John Williams has to defend his nephew Charlie, who is accused of strangling a white boy to death. John doesn't believe Charlie did it, and although Charlie confesses,... See full summary »


5 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
John Williams
Charles Williams
Carol Williams
Charles Williams Jr.
Anna Huggins
Jim Jones ...
Dan Lett ...
Frank Minor
Judge Aker
Birdie M. Hale ...
Mrs. Barry
Captain McCully
Jeff Jones ...
Stanley Harris


In 1957, black lawyer John Williams has to defend his nephew Charlie, who is accused of strangling a white boy to death. John doesn't believe Charlie did it, and although Charlie confesses, John wants to find out the real truth. Written by Anonymous

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What would you be willing to sacrifice to keep your family secrets? See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language




Release Date:

20 January 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A becsület kötelez  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

the movie inspires thought, as slogans don't.
24 April 2000 | by See all my reviews

It's difficult to understand the mentality of the film industry when it comes to content that deals with bigotry and race. While trash like like "The Hurricane" get wide distribution, quality films like "Blind Faith" are ignored. I caught this movie early in the morning on a Sunday on a cable movie station, it was really the only thing on. Lucky me. The movie was so powerful I was amazed I'd never heard of it, not an advertisement, review, nothing.

The basic plot consists of a black accused of murdering a white and caught up in the legal system of the pre-Civil Rights era. Now that plot line is about as old as they come--well trod territory done with excellence in "To Kill A Mockingbird" and with ugly stupidity in "The Hurricane".

But this movie gives us more and better than most legal oriented films of any kind. The film centers on an African-American lawyer, solidly acted by Courtney Vance, defending his nephew who steadfastly refuses to explain the circumstances behind the charge. This serves to explain the lawyer's relationship with his two brothers, one a policeman and father of the accused, and the other, a ne'er-do-well jazz musician.

Charles S. Dutton is outstanding as the police officer, tormented and conflicted when his son is accused of murder. He's worked hard and long to achieve his success and status, and it's compelling to watch his rage at seeing all he's built teetering on the edge of a precipice.

Courtney B. Vance puts in a fine performance as the lawyer, who is barely able to control his emotions through much of the film. His despair, confusion and anger cause him to periodically lash out, often to the detriment of his own cause.

Kadeem Hardison, not a great actor to begin with, muddles through as the jazz musician other brother, a really unnecessary addition, but it serves as an excuse to listen to some really fine music, so perhaps that's reason enough for his inclusion.

But for the most part, these are actual characters with nuance and depth, real people caught in a complex situation, not cardboard heroes with cardboard virtues who mouth inane slogans.

In one scene the black lawyer coaches a witness to lie on the stand, to commit perjury, out of desperation. In another, the judge upbraids him after he yells at a witness, concluding with "remember your place." The judge could easily be referring to the courtroom and his role as lawyer, or is it a racist comment, as the character takes it to be? The ambiguity enriches the movie, allowing the viewer to think, to ponder the circumstances. The white characters are not evil, they come off mostly as people just trying to do their jobs the best they can.

The legal aspect of the movie is very well done too--no torturing the legal system with ridiculous departures from real process, or inane speeches that would be instantly ruled out of order in a real courtroom.

The resolution, and a very compelling one it is, doesn't give anybody an easy out--it doesn't allow the viewer to just sit back and feel self satisfied, or blather on about a racist leviathan. It forces one to think about the nature of bigotry and prejudice. I won't say more, since to do so would give away the stellar climax.

Perhaps the only flaw is the voice over at the end that explains what happens after the story essentially ends. It's needless and kind of silly, and really only detracts from what is a great film. It's as if the film makers don't trust themselves enough to totally follow through with the ambiguity with which they've left the viewers. It's unfortunate, but a common sin in Hollywood.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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