Successful New York attorney Sam Leibowitz travels to the South in 1933 to defend nine young black men accused of raping two women on an Alabama freight train. In the spring of 1931 nine black hoboes were pulled off an Alabama freight train and arrested for allegedly raping two young white women in a gondola car. Ranging in ages from twelve to twenty years, they were quickly tried and sentenced to the electric chair. News of their convictions spread and the plight of the Scottsboro Boys became a 'cause celebre' that fueled the fire of socialism worldwide, forcing an appeal to the United States Supreme Court and resulting in new trials for all nine defendants. New Yorker Samuel Leibowitz, a savvy and self-assured defense lawyer with an impressive string of courtroom victories, agreed to represent the accused at their retrials in Decatur, Alabama. His journey into the Deep South symbolized the polarity of the times and set in motion a legal battle that ultimately changed the course of ... Written by
During the final part of filming, production was shut down for three or four days because Hurricane Ivan going through Monroeville, Ala., where the film was being shot. The crew helped board up windows at the courthouse where the courtroom scenes were shot and even loaned the police a generator to keep the 911 service running. See more »
The opening sequence, a series of vignettes showing the events which led to the trial, is set on a freight train in 1931. Twice, the modern Diesel-electric locomotive heading the train comes into shot. And, for most of the sequence, the train is stationary. See more »
Judge James Horton:
This defendant has a right to a fair and decent trail. Any man who attempts to take charge outside the law is unworthy of the protection of the State of Alabama and the citizenship which you enjoy. I have no patience with mob spirit. And if there are any meetings where such matters are discussed, any man attending such a meeting should be ashamed of themselves. Your very civilization depends on the carrying out of your laws in an orderly manner. Gentlemen, I hope we will have no more of any ...
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