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The Color of Courage (1998)

Based on the landmark civil rights case Sipes vs. McGhee, The Color of Courage chronicles the friendship between a white woman and a black woman whose family, the McGhees, has moved into a ... See full summary »

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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Anna Sipes
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Minnie McGhee
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Benjamin Sipes
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Mac McGhee
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Philip Renfrew
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Dorothy Renfrew
Gannon Brown ...
Reggie McGhee
Shan Elliot ...
Orsel McGhee
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Maggie Sipes
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Thompson
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Stanford
Dee Jay Jackson ...
Fred
...
Winchell
Gillian Barber ...
Carol
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Audrey
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Storyline

Based on the landmark civil rights case Sipes vs. McGhee, The Color of Courage chronicles the friendship between a white woman and a black woman whose family, the McGhees, has moved into a previously all-white neighborhood. A McGhee granddaughter, Kathleen McGhee-Anderson, wrote the script. Written by Julie Chapman

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for language and thematic elements | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

10 February 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sipes vs. McGhee  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Hamilton and Whitfield Show Their True Colors
11 February 1999 | by (Louisiana, USA) – See all my reviews

The Color of Courage is based on the true story of the Supreme Court case of Sipes v. McGhee, which challenged the constitutionality of restricted covenants designed to prohibit black families from living in exclusive white neighborhoods in the 1940s, and the unlikely friendship formed between two women.

The film was, unfortunately, very sugar-coated. The reality of the violence that black American familes like the McGhees faced (and sometimes continue to face) in this country while standing up for their basic human rights, was merely hinted at in the USA Network Original. The decision to curb the amount of violence portrayed onscreen was perhaps two-fold: 1) as an effort to appeal to a much wider viewing audience, and 2) in order to use its alotted time to focus primarily on the personal relationship between two women who became friends under the most improbable circumstance.

The sugar coating was the only aspect of this film that did not appeal to me. The opening camera shot (and a few others throughout the movie), is beautifully done as one long, continuous shot with no breaks or cuts in filming. The camera flows through the room, all around the characters, and feels very smooth. It gives the feeling of a live-action play more so than a film.

As usual, Linda Hamilton, a Hollywood veteran of 20 years, added her own unique spark to the character of Anna Sipes. Very much unlike the "tough chick" roles with which many try to stereotype her, she plays a 1940s housewife who calls on inner strength rather than bulging biceps to win her battles. Hamilton brilliantly portrays a pre-feminism woman who cowers like a disciplined puppy when scolded or insulted by her status-seeking husband, while secretly lending friendship and support to her neighbors.

Lynn Whitfield was also magnificent in her portrayal of Minnie McGhee. As a black wife and mother in the racially divided Detroit of the 1940s, Whitfield carries with her in every scene an almost tangible display of pride and determination as she reluctantly joins her husband in a fight for the rights of an entire race.

The two couples were really very much alike: the husbands so proud to have worked hard and been able to provide nice homes and a better environment for their families; the affectionate little flirting scenes with both couples; each family having a child who had no trouble getting along with the other; both women (and later, both men) having contempt for the rest of the other neighbors....

The subject matter of this movie should sicken Americans everywhere. The way blacks (and other minorities) have been treated in this country is deplorable. Thankfully, this film had an uplifting message of friendship and acceptance. The Sipes v. McGhee case was a step in the right direction, but society sure has a long way to go.


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