Ali's biggest match, his fight with the US government. A film about the politics and hubris surrounding the Vietnam War and the revenge exacted on America's greatest sportsman of the 20th century because he refused to fight in that war.
Carrie Watts begrudgingly lives with her busy, overprotective son, Ludie, and pretentious daughter-in-law, Jessie Mae. No longer able to drive and forbidden to travel alone, she wishes for ... See full summary »
Sammy and Rosie are an unconventional middle-class London married couple. They live in the midst of inner-city chaos, surround themselves with intellectual street people, and sleep with ... See full summary »
In 1964, world champion boxer Muhammad Ali requested exemption from the military draft based on his religious beliefs. His request was denied and when he refused induction into the army, he was convicted and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. His case eventually works itself up the Supreme Court. In their first conference after the case is presented, the justices decide by majority vote to uphold the conviction and Justice John Harlan is tasked with preparing the majority opinion. He assigns one of his clerks, Kevin Connolly, to prepare a first draft but try as he might he believes that decision his wrong. His draft argues for overturning the conviction and Harlan agrees with him. The justice must now find a way to convince his colleagues. Written by
Justice Potter Stewart:
You okay, Harry?
Justice Harry Blackmun:
I know you're all concerned with what you perceive as my indecisiveness, you think I can't make up my mind. It's not that, it really isn't. It's that the issues in this case are so grave, you answer one question, even tentatively you think you're safe, then two more questions appear on the horizon. As I see it, I can make a final judgement until all the facts are in. Until all the arguments have been analyzed.
Justice Potter Stewart:
But it's not a math problem, Harry. You wanna find out one answer. ...
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Worth viewing for the history, rather than the art
The filmmaking (or rather, videomaking) by Stephen Frears is not particularly noteworthy, nor are some of the secondary performances. Still, the film allows one a rather fascinating peek at various forces (personal and cultural) influencing the Supreme Courts decision with regard to the legality of Mohammed Ali's refusal to serve in the U.S. army. As noted elsewhere, the segments involving the competition between interns are very much a distraction. Only one of the interns is of any narrative importance and his thread could easily have been played out in scenes between him and Judge Harlan (Christopher Plummer). In short, view this for the history, rather than the art.
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