MOVIEmeter
Top 5000
Down 171 this week

The Great Debaters (2007)

PG-13  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  25 December 2007 (USA)
7.6
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.6/10 from 44,233 users   Metascore: 65/100
Reviews: 116 user | 112 critic | 32 from Metacritic.com

A drama based on the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College Texas. In 1935, he inspired students to form the school's first debate team, which went on to challenge Harvard in the national championship.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (story), 2 more credits »
Watch Trailer
0Check in
0Share...

Watch Now

$0.00 with Prime Instant Video

WATCH NOW
ON DISC

IMDb Picks: May

Visit our IMDb Picks section to see our recommendations of movies and TV shows coming out in May, sponsored by COVERGIRL.

Visit the IMDb Picks section

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 31 titles
created 03 Apr 2012
 
a list of 28 titles
created 22 Dec 2012
 
a list of 48 titles
created 18 Oct 2013
 
a list of 43 titles
created 24 Oct 2013
 
a list of 34 titles
created 4 months ago
 

Related Items

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: The Great Debaters (2007)

The Great Debaters (2007) on IMDb 7.6/10

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

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The Great Debaters.

User Polls

Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 10 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Biography | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Antwone Fisher, a young navy man, is forced to see a psychiatrist after a violent outburst against a fellow crewman. During the course of treatment a painful past is revealed and a new hope begins.

Director: Denzel Washington
Stars: Denzel Washington, Derek Luke, Joy Bryant
Out of Time I (2003)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A Florida police chief must solve a vicious double homicide before he himself falls under suspicion.

Director: Carl Franklin
Stars: Denzel Washington, Sanaa Lathan, Eva Mendes
Drama | Mystery | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

In the midst of the Gulf War, soldiers are kidnapped and brainwashed for sinister purposes.

Director: Jonathan Demme
Stars: Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber, Meryl Streep
The Hurricane (1999)
Biography | Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

The story of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a boxer wrongly imprisoned for murder, and the people who aided in his fight to prove his innocence.

Director: Norman Jewison
Stars: Denzel Washington, Vicellous Reon Shannon, Deborah Kara Unger
John Q (2002)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A down-on-his luck father, whose insurance won't cover his son's heart transplant, takes the hospital's emergency room hostage until the doctors agree to perform the operation.

Director: Nick Cassavetes
Stars: Denzel Washington, Robert Duvall, Gabriela Oltean
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Armed men hijack a New York City subway train, holding the passengers hostage in return for a ransom, and turning an ordinary day's work for dispatcher Walter Garber into a face-off with the mastermind behind the crime.

Director: Tony Scott
Stars: Denzel Washington, John Travolta, Luis Guzmán
Unstoppable (2010)
Action | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

With an unmanned, half-mile-long freight train barreling toward a city, a veteran engineer and a young conductor race against the clock to prevent a catastrophe.

Director: Tony Scott
Stars: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson
Deja Vu (2006)
Action | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

An A.T.F. agent tries to save a woman from being murdered.

Director: Tony Scott
Stars: Denzel Washington, Paula Patton, Jim Caviezel
Biography | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

In 1970s America, a detective works to bring down the drug empire of Frank Lucas, a heroin kingpin from Manhattan, who is smuggling the drug into the country from the Far East.

Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Malcolm X (1992)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Biographical epic of the controversial and influential Black Nationalist leader, from his early life and career as a small-time gangster, to his ministry as a member of the Nation of Islam.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Delroy Lindo
Man on Fire (2004)
Action | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

In Mexico City, a former assassin swears vengeance on those who committed an unspeakable act against the family he was hired to protect.

Director: Tony Scott
Stars: Denzel Washington, Christopher Walken, Dakota Fanning
Safe House (2012)
Action | Crime | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A young CIA agent is tasked with looking after a fugitive in a safe house. But when the safe house is attacked, he finds himself on the run with his charge.

Director: Daniel Espinosa
Stars: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Robert Patrick
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Henry Lowe
...
Samantha Booke (as Jurnee Smollett)
...
James Farmer Jr.
...
Hamilton Burgess
...
Dr. James Farmer Sr.
...
Ruth Tolson
...
Sheriff Dozier
...
Pearl Farmer
...
Helen Farmer (as Devyn Tyler)
...
Nathaniel Farmer
...
Deputy
...
Pig Owner
...
Pig Farmer
...
Dunbar Reed
Edit

Storyline

Marshall, Texas, described by James Farmer, Jr. as "the last city to surrender after the Civil War," is home to Wiley College, where, in 1935-36, inspired by the Harlem Renaissance and his clandestine work as a union organizer, Professor Melvin Tolson coaches the debate team to a nearly-undefeated season that sees the first debate between U.S. students from white and Negro colleges and ends with an invitation to face Harvard University's national champions. The team of four, which includes a female student and a very young James Farmer, is tested in a crucible heated by Jim Crow, sexism, a lynch mob, an arrest and near riot, a love affair, jealousy, and a national radio audience. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

When the nation was in need, he inspired them to give us hope.

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for depiction of strong thematic material including violence and disturbing images, and for language and brief sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

25 December 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Debate Pela Liberdade  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$3,604,000 (USA) (21 December 2007)

Gross:

$30,226,144 (USA) (11 April 2008)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| |

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The diploma hanging in Dr. James Farmer's study is an authentic copy provided to the art department by Boston University archivist Kara Jackman. See more »

Goofs

At the Harvard debate the radio coverage is announced as WNBC. Those call letters didn't come into use until 1946. In 1935 the flagship station of the National Broadcasting System was WEAF in New York City, which headed up its Red Network. NVC's other network was the Blue Network, headed by WJZ in NYC. See more »

Quotes

Melvin B. Tolson: Anybody know who Willie Lynch was? Anybody? Raise your hand. No one? He was a vicious slave owner in the West Indies. The slave-masters in the colony of Virginia were having trouble controlling their slaves, so they sent for Mr. Lynch to teach them his methods. The word "lynching" came from his last name. His methods were very simple, but they were diabolical. Keep the slave physically strong but psychologically weak and dependent on the slave master. Keep the body, take the mind.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Scrubs: Our Drunk Friend (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Up Above My Head I Hear Music in the Air
Performed by Sharon Jones, Alvin Youngblood Hart (as Alvin 'Youngblood' Hart) with Billy Rivers & The Angelic Voices of Faith
Produced by G. Marq Roswell
Written by Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Courtesy of The Weinstein Co.
Arranged by Sharon Jones, G. Marq Roswell, Kristin Wilkinson, Larry Paxton,
David Huntsinger & Bonnie Huntsinger
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Triumph ... and Treacle
10 January 2008 | by (New York, NY) – See all my reviews

Sometimes you can enjoy every second of a movie, every frame, and be phenomenally moved by it, and cry a happy tear … and yet, when you ponder the film afterward, you feel disappointment, a sense of "why couldn't this film have been braver?" For me, this was that kind of film. There's just no subtlety in it and situations are stock.

Best things: the design of the film, the cinematography, the casting of the primary characters, and, most importantly, the inspirational theme of debating, of speaking well as a way out and up. I hope it inspires young people of all races to clean up their bad speech habits, speak up and be heard. As the Samantha character says at one point, in wonder, "I didn't need weapons, I had words!"

Worst things: predictable plot line, the fact that the speeches themselves, while well delivered, are not always well formulated, and the deliberate decision to end with an unalloyed triumph when the actual situation was less glamorous and more poignant; other postings here have explained why. As someone pointed out, the white characters are demonized (I would say "stereotyped") and not only by cretinous pig farmers in Texas but by the young Harvard debaters whose delicate features and snooty bearing make them seem like Stepford Scions. Oh, well … black characters in films have often been stock but one must ask, if that was wrong then why is this right now?

Oprah is a soft-hearted person with an aspirational dream for her people. That's nice but it doesn't necessarily lead to great art.


47 of 75 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
These are the kind of black movies... Ozyre Cekda
Anyone else notice a slightly Communist/Socialist slant to the film? g_wales
Great movie, but large mistake made at the end... Metfan2987
The story is a lie jonathanlerner111
The lynch scene rujivachirapong
I still have to bring it up, No Country for Old Men???? dafranchise692001
Discuss The Great Debaters (2007) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?