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The Great White Hope (1970)

PG-13 | | Drama, Romance, Sport | 16 October 1970 (USA)
A black champion boxer and his white female companion struggle to survive while the white boxing establishment looks for ways to knock him down.

Director:

Martin Ritt

Writers:

Howard Sackler (play), Howard Sackler (screenplay)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Earl Jones ... Jack Jefferson
Jane Alexander ... Eleanor Backman
Lou Gilbert Lou Gilbert ... Goldie
Joel Fluellen Joel Fluellen ... Tick
Chester Morris ... Pop Weaver
Robert Webber ... Dixon
Marlene Warfield ... Clara
R.G. Armstrong ... Cap'n Dan
Hal Holbrook ... District Attorney Al Cameron
Beah Richards ... Mama Tiny
Moses Gunn ... Scipio
Lloyd Gough ... Smitty
George Ebeling George Ebeling ... Fred
Larry Pennell ... Franklyn Brady
Roy Glenn ... Pastor (as Roy E. Glenn Sr.)
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Storyline

Boxer Jack Jefferson (James Earl Jones) is the world's reigning heavyweight boxing champion. There's just one problem, he is also the first black heavyweight champion, and that bothers a lot of people. Jack's celebration is cut short, as Jack is framed for crossing a state line with Eleanor, his white fiancé (Jane Alexander in her first film role), a violation of the Mann Act. Facing a prison sentence, Jack escapes to Europe, with Eleanor in tow, encountering problems in England, and then France, and eventually landing in Cuba. In Havana, Jack agrees to enter the boxing ring for what might be the bout of his life. Both Jones and Alexander were nominated for Oscars. Written by trivwhiz

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Great White Hope...So Great! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | Sport

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, and for language including racist dialogue | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Hungarian | German | Spanish

Release Date:

16 October 1970 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

L'insurgé See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$8,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Lawrence Turman See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Color by Deluxe)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The first director suggested for this film was George Stevens. See more »

Goofs

In the first scene in which we see Jefferson practicing, the sweat on his shirt changes from shot to shot in a way that wouldn't be predicted by evaporation. See more »

Quotes

Jack Jefferson: I'm big, but I ain't dumb, hear?
See more »

Crazy Credits

Screenplay by Howard Sackler Based on his play See more »

Connections

Referenced in Southpaw (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Oh! You Beautiful Doll
Written by Nat Ayer and A. Seymour Brown
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Great White Hope is a fine way to end my Black History Month series of reviews
28 February 2011 | by tavmSee all my reviews

Concluding reviewing African-Americans in film in chronological order for Black History Month, we're at the near end of 1970 when James Earl Jones reprises his Tony-winning role as boxer Jack Jefferson in film version of The Great White Hope which got him an Oscar nomination. Since this takes place in the early part of the 20th century, he's not very much liked by the majority white public of America at the time certainly whenever he's seen with his Caucasian female partner Eleanor Backman (Jane Alexander, also Academy nominated). His former girlfriend Clara (Marlene Warfield) certainly resents Eleanor for usurping her power over Jack who has no use for her. Good thing he has his manager Goldie (Lou Gilbert) as well as his trainer Tick (Joel Fluellen) on his side so they all go to Europe where they don't have to worry about jail time. I'll just stop there and just say that the staginess is quite evident in many scenes. Still, both Jones and Ms. Alexander are effective whenever they're together whether intimate or arguing. And Fluellen has his biggest role here and makes the most of it. In addition, it was such a treat, after playing husband-and-wife in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, to see Beah Richards-as Jack's mother-and Roy Glenn-as a pastor at her house-in the same scene again. And seeing Bill Walker-so memorable as Reverend Sykes in To Kill a Mockingbird-playing a deacon in an early scene was also pleasurable to me. One more thing, Hal Holbrook has a memorable turn as an attorney interviewing Ms. Alexander. So on that note, The Great White Hope is highly recommended. Oh, and while this is the official last entry for BHM, there are a few movies I wanted to review in the time alloted that I'm viewing in the next few days (or weeks, depending on my mood) so if you are reading this under my username, watch this space for those reviews...


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