MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Up 12,334 this week

Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (2004)

8.3
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 8.3/10 from 977 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 5 critic

The story of Jack Johnson, the first African American Heavyweight boxing champion.

Director:

0Check in
0Share...

Watch Now

$0.00 with Prime Instant Video

WATCH NOW
ON DISC

10 Best Back-to-School TV Shows

Dust off your varsity jacket and get excited for fall with our list of the 10 best back-to-school TV shows.

Visit our Family Entertainment Guide

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 27 titles
created 15 Feb 2011
 
a list of 27 titles
created 12 Mar 2011
 
a list of 49 titles
created 07 Sep 2011
 
a list of 24 titles
created 24 Feb 2014
 
a list of 46 titles
created 9 months ago
 

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (2004)

Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (2004) on IMDb 8.3/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson.
Won 3 Primetime Emmys. Another 1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

The Dust Bowl (TV Mini-Series 2012)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A documentary about the 1930s drought of North American prairie farm land, and its consequences during the great depression.

Stars: Peter Coyote, Donald Worster, Dorothy Williamson
Documentary | Adventure | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

The story of the most important American exploration expedition in American history and the participants in it.

Director: Ken Burns
Stars: Hal Holbrook, Adam Arkin, John Logan Allen
Mark Twain (TV Movie 2001)
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A biographical film about the acclaimed American humourist and author.

Director: Ken Burns
Stars: Keith David, Kevin Conway, Philip Bosco
The War (TV Mini-Series 2007)
Documentary | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9/10 X  

A seven-part series focusing on the many ways in which the Second World War impacted the lives of American families.

Stars: Keith David, Katharine Phillips, Tom Hanks
Documentary | Adventure | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The saga of Horatio Nelson Jackson, the first man to cross the United States by automobile--in 1903!

Director: Ken Burns
Stars: Keith David, Tom Hanks, Adam Arkin
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  

A documentary that weaves together the stories of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, three members of one of the most prominent and influential families in American politics.

Stars: Meryl Streep, Edward Herrmann, Doris Kearns Goodwin
Documentary | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A biography of the life and work of the American architect.

Directors: Ken Burns, Lynn Novick
Stars: Edward Herrmann, Philip Bosco, Julie Harris
Documentary | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

The history of the U.S. National Parks system, including the initial ideas which led to the world's first national parks and the expansion of the system over 150 years.

Stars: Peter Coyote, William Cronon, Dayton Duncan
Prohibition (TV Mini-Series 2011)
Documentary | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

The story of the American activist struggle against the influence of alcohol, climaxing in the failed early 20th century nationwide era when it was banned.

Stars: Peter Coyote, Pete Hamill, Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Baseball (TV Mini-Series 1994)
Documentary | History | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.1/10 X  

A documentary on the history of the sport with major topics including Afro-American players, player/team owner relations and the resilience of the game.

Stars: John Chancellor, Daniel Okrent, Ossie Davis
Documentary | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A biographical film about The United States' influential and profoundly enigmatic Founding Father.

Director: Ken Burns
Stars: Blythe Danner, Ossie Davis, Gwyneth Paltrow
Jazz (TV Mini-Series 2001)
Documentary | History | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A survey of the musical form's history and major talents.

Stars: Keith David, Sly Stone, Richard Nixon
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Johnson ...
Himself (archive footage)
...
Narrator (voice)
...
Jack Johnson (voice)
...
Other Voices (voice)
...
Other Voices (voice)
...
Other Voices (voice)
...
Other Voices (voice)
...
Other Voices (voice)
Murphy Guyer ...
Other Voices (voice)
...
Other Voices (voice)
...
Other Voices (voice)
...
Other Voices (voice)
...
Other Voices (voice)
...
Other Voices (voice)
...
Other Voices (voice)
Edit

Storyline

The story of Jack Johnson, the first African American Heavyweight boxing champion.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They couldn't knock him out, so they tried to tear him down.


Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 January 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Er wollte kein Sklave sein  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Quotes

Jack Johnson: If and suppose, two small words, but nobody has ever been able to explain them. One man falls out of bed and is killed, another falls from a fifty foot scaffold and lives. One man gets shot in the leg and is killed, another gets a bullet in the brain and lives. I always take a chance on my pleasures.
See more »


Soundtracks

Hail to the Chief
Composed by James Sanderson
Arranged by John Colby
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Thorough and Enjoyable
25 February 2007 | by See all my reviews

Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion, is usually seen as one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. Ken Burns' "Unforgivable Blackness" paints a picture of Johnson as a great defensive fighter, ranging from his roots in mainly all-black boxing to showing him demonstrating moves to a younger fighter when Johnson was well into middle age. Indeed, Johnson used his defensive skills to beat not only white boxers like ex-champion Jim Jeffries, in the 1910 racially charged championship bout in Las Vegas, but top black boxers like Joe Jeannete, Sam Langford, and Sam McVey. The pumped-up strong boys in today's diffuse heavyweight division look physically fearsome, but I believe Johnson's defensive skills would have made it difficult for anyone to beat him, including Mike Tyson in his prime.

The portrayal of Johnson in the "Boxing's Best" series was excellent, but nearly three hours shorter than this 216-minute documentary. Some of the same footage and photos are in this video, but here we get more footage and far more of other stuff. Shown are footage of Johnson's fights with Jeffries, Tommy Burns (from whom he won the title), Fireman Jim Flynn, Stanley Ketchel, and Frank Moran, and other boxing clips of himself and others. The buildup, aftermath, and social meaning of the Jeffries fight are thorough and thoughtfully done.

White champions since John L. Sullivan in the 1880s had refused to fight black challengers until Johnson defeated Burns. The subsequent efforts at finding a great white hope are shown (although one omission was no mention of the greatest white hope, Luther McCarty, who died during a match and thus never got to fight Johnson). For whites, regaining the championship was important. Another omission was not mentioning that Johnson lost to white boxer Marvin Hart, who then won the title after Jeffries retired (later, Johnson crushed Burns, who had beaten Hart). I am suspicious of some of the decisions given to white boxers over black boxers in those days. Or, was it a legitimate victory? How about a comment, Ken?

What about Johnson the man? Jack Johnson was an individual to himself and to his own desires. He was not someone who, as the first black heavyweight champion, saw himself as a role model for his race and therefore, obliged to behave in a certain fashion, whether it be, say, more defiant than compliant with white standards. He liked to live the high life, dress well, eat well, drive fancy cars and race cars, perform on vaudeville, etc. Originally from Galveston Texas, he is also the Jack Johnson of Europe and Australia and Cuba and Mexico. He was always on the go, whether chasing Tommy Burns all over the earth to pressure him to fight him for the championship or running off to another country because of trumped-up charges of violation of the Mann Act. Much effort was made to produce expansive footage and photography: Ken Burns tried hard and succeeded.

Johnson and white women would not be such a taboo item today, but would narrators concede in private (they do not in narration) that his being such a frequent consort of prostitutes can justifiably be seen as a negative trait anytime? For this and his individualism and flamboyancy, he was detested by whites and also some blacks.

But Johnson did not care. The film briefly mentions some parallels with Muhammad Ali. However, while Ali could be angered, by political and social issues, and by black opponents calling him Cassius Clay, Johnson was just carefree. He laughed at racial abuse given him in the ring. Ironically, after having such a hard time getting a white champion to fight him, Johnson denied black fighters a chance to fight him because white challengers would result in bigger purses (and presented less risk).

The commentators are writers like Gerald Early (who was also on Burns' "Baseball" and "Jazz" documentaries), Stanley Crouch, Jack Newfield, and George Plimpton; Johnson biographer Randy Roberts; boxing expert Bert Sugar; former light heavyweight champion Jose Torres; James Earl Jones (who played Johnson in "The Great White Hope"), and others. One thing that was better about "Unforgivable Blackness" than "Baseball" was that the celebrity non-baseball experts infused some nonsense into the latter (I enjoyed the baseball personalities); here, the commentators consistently add insights and are knowledgeable about boxing.


3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Great 'mint julips' quote scazza
Music question shimshamtothemax
Jim J. Jeffries should sue! kentonc2001

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?