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.
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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
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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An interesting watch, but seeming to miss something
While being an interesting look at a major event in American history, I thought the general mood of the film didn't really mesh with the subject matter.
The locker room bro moments of the clerks felt more like a distraction in my mind from what was really interesting. I understand that throughout the move there's an attempt to compare and contrast the generational differences between the justices and clerks, but really it came out more muddled than insightful. But hey, maybe that's just me.
I think a more interesting movie would have been a more focused study into the closed-off perspective of the justice's world. A closed-room style would have fitted well. The hippies lined up outside made to seem distant and strange, even to the blue justices.
The movie also seemed a little closed off and lacking much room for audience pondering. Mohammed Ali was valid for conscientious objector status. No question. This might have been the case, but I'd rather come to that conclusion myself.
Anyway, it was a fine TV movie. Definitely worth a watch.
3 of 8 people found this review helpful.
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