7.0/10
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29 user 13 critic

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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On TV

Airs Thu. Feb. 28, 8:00 PM on TCM

ON DISC
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 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 most honored play in the history of Broadway...becomes an electrifying motion picture! 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:

$6,000,000 (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

Redd Foxx, who knew former heavyweight champ Jack Johnson, whose career and struggle against racism inspired the original play, turned down a role in the film as he believed it was not a true picture of his old friend. 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

Fred: So, what do you say? If that's no white hope, I'm Queen Pocahontas.
Pop Weaver: He's the right stuff, Dan. Maybe a little raw yet.
Fred: *Fresh*. Fresh is what he is. Big, clean, strong. A real farm boy. They're waiting on their knees for someone like him.
Pop Weaver: I'm ready to promote it, Dan. What do you think?
Cap'n Dan: I think he's a full-grown polar bear, myself. He's the best of the bunch, I won't argue that. But say we send him over, bang! It's 10-to-1 the black boy does it again. Then where are we?
Pop Weaver: We won't ever have it on...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

Screenplay by Howard Sackler Based on his play See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Jeffersons: Homecoming: Part 2 (1978) See more »

Soundtracks

Its So High
(uncredited)
Traditional
Arranged by Lionel Newman
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Brilliant film.
6 February 2005 | by zerogirl42See all my reviews

Before I fully begin, let me make one thing clear: The emphasis in this film is not boxing, but the life of a boxer (Jack Johnson) played by James Earl Jones (Darth Vader).

In telling the tale of Johnson's life this movie depicts the racial boundaries going on in America in the early 20th century. Unlike many films which tell a tale of racial injustice, this film manages to do it:

a) Without sugar coating anything. b) Without being over-dramatic.

I saw it today on television and I didn't know what to expect before it started. I was interested to see it because I've heard references made to it in the past and was curious. I can say for certain that giving this film a chance, and watching it beginning to end, is the best movie-related decision I've made in a long time (at least ten-thousand times better than deciding to rent Resident Evil 2).

In watching this I got a deep sense of reality. A big reason for this is a simply phenomenal performance by James Earl Jones, as well as solid acting on the part of Jane Alexander and many of the supporting cast members.

I couldn't believe that IMDb only has 8 reviews of this movie (at least at the time of me writing this), and due to some folks totally missing the point of it, it has a somewhat sad rating.

SEE this film if you are into compelling stories about interesting people which are well written and acted.

DON'T see this film if you expect Rocky III.

There are a lot of good movies out there and I enjoy all manner of cinema, but I can say without a doubt in my mind that The Great White Hope has made it into the realm of my favorites.

10 out of 10


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