7.6/10
50,227
119 user 113 critic

The Great Debaters (2007)

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 Now

From $6.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 11 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Biography | Drama
    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
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 Shannon, Deborah Kara Unger
John Q (2002)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

John Quincy Archibald takes a hospital emergency room hostage when his insurance won't cover his son's heart transplant.

Director: Nick Cassavetes
Stars: Denzel Washington, Robert Duvall, Gabriela Oltean
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
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)
Trenton McClain Boyd ...
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.


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:

$9,184,022 (USA) (30 December 2007)

Gross:

$30,226,144 (USA) (13 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

On December 19, 2007, Denzel Washington announced a one million dollar donation to Wiley College, so they could re-establish their debate team. See more »

Goofs

When James gets home after being selected for the debate team, he is holding his books with their spines towards his left arm. But when he sets them down to go speak with his father, the spines are towards his right. See more »

Quotes

Samantha: [after James protests his inability to debate with Samantha or Henry] James, you're the best researcher I've ever seen. We couldn't do this without you.
James Farmer Jr.: [angrily] Oh, there's PLENTY you do without me!
See more »

Connections

Featured in 73rd Golden Globe Awards (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

I Would Do Anything for You
Performed by Art Tatum
Written by W. Alexander Hill (as Alexander Hill), Claude Hopkins & Bob Williams
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
Courtesy of Verve Music Group
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Though I speak with the tongues of angels, but have not love....
24 December 2007 | by (the big screen) – See all my reviews

"The Great Debaters" is a very fine film.

It reminds us of what it means to be excellent, to stand for something good, to love with all our hearts, and to shine.

The performances, or the cinematography, historical care, or directorship all lift it out of the ordinary.

And in its difficult subject: racial tension and the education and discovery of values by the three young debaters from Wiley College, one of the oldest colleges in America, it creates real excitement and interest.

But the real reason that this is a fine film lies in is its plea that in education lies the reasoning, the power, and the will to change history. That learning lies not just in knowledge but also in applying that knowledge to better yourself, your world, and all of humanity.

The very significant point of the film is at the end. I can forgive the slight drag here and there because the ending is magnificent and explains something crucial about American history by its finish.

From an era when bigotry, racism, and degrading behavior was a wretched norm to our era where values are mutable, where dumbing down has no limits, and taste little place; "The Great Debaters" stands out as being a story that stands against all of these things.

The rating says it all: excellent.


83 of 105 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?