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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 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

The Johnson -Willand fight was filmed in Barcelona. 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: Hey, man. What's my winning gonna do for you?
Country Boy: Huh?
Pastor: Give him self respect.
Country Boy: Yeah, I be proud to be colored tomorrow.
Jack Jefferson: Country boy, if you ain't there already, all the boxing and all the nigger-praying in the world ain't gonna get you there.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Screenplay by Howard Sackler Based on his play See more »

Connections

Spoofed in The Great White Hype (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

There'll Be A Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight
(uncredited)
Written by Joe Hayden and Theo. A. Metz
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Powerful, Compelling, and still QUITE relevant!!!
16 June 2008 | by RaiderJackSee all my reviews

As an 18-yr old, I vividly remember when this movie came out and the swirling controversies that accompanied it. Whites were cautious because it openly dealt with not only an interracial love affair but because of the depiction of an unrelenting, proud, but very angry black man. Interestingly enough, with the advent of Black Power/the Revolution and the emergence of the Black Panthers, most black audiences were equally cautious as well and for exactly the same reasons. Also keep in mind I was living in the South then too. Even in 1970, few southern towns would actually show the film.

This is a variation on the real-life troubles of Jack Johnson, one of boxing's earliest contenders.

Hands down the most compelling performances are those of James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander that leave an indelible imprint on the viewer. Because of the racial fabric of the time, Jack knew he was asking for trouble by openly defying white authority and then compounding that by becoming involved with a white woman. Both undoubtedly knew full well what they would be up against. While they may have deeply loved each other in the beginning, they soon discovered that simply love does not conquer all.

The movie is also filled with treasures of African-American performances by the likes of Beah Richards, Moses Gunn, Roy Glenn Sr. and Virginia Capers. This alone is worth the price of admission.

In many instances it is most difficult to watch. Two mesmerizing and thoroughly wrenching scenes were Jane's suicide and when Jack and company were reduced to performing "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in Europe to survive.

The film is most certainly uncompromising which was a MAJOR achievement given the social fabric at the time. James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander both deserved Oscars for their performances but that would have been like condoning their whole situation and god KNOWS Hollywood would NEVER have done that.....(sigh) Another example of not being able to see the forest for the trees.

Nonetheless, this is an eeeeeeeeeexcellent film and most worthy of your movie collection


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