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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
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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