6.9/10
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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)
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
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 ... Cameron
Beah Richards ... Mama Tiny
Moses Gunn ... Scipio
Lloyd Gough ... Smitty
George Ebeling George Ebeling ... Fred
Larry Pennell ... 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:

He could beat any white man in the world. He just couldn't beat all of them. 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:

The Great White Hope 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 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

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

Edited into The Loving Story (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

When the Saints Go Marching In
(uncredited)
Traditional
Arranged by Lionel Newman
See more »

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User Reviews

The little black hope
5 March 2012 | by dbdumonteilSee all my reviews

The title is no misnomer:although the movie tells the story of a black champion,"they " get out of their way to thwart this living "threat " for the white race;as users noticed it ,do not watch it if you expect "rocky": it's its exact contrary ,a failure story.

James Earl Jones portrays this fighter with a great dignity till the last pictures:he is bullied ,humiliated,persecuted;the best scene is for me that ridiculous performance of "Uncle Tom's cabin" on stage,with Jones and Alexander wearing wigs ,and playing the slave and Evangeline .

If Jones is not Rocky,Jane Alexander is not Adrian either;first of all ,she is white and well meaning were not prepared to accept it at the time (we are far from "guess who's coming to dine" in which a white bubble head girl is to marry a black future Nobel Prize).Alexander's transformation is extraordinary: a shy elegant lady in the first sequence,then a defiant woman during her "questioning",a partner who accompanies the champion in all his sufferings and humiliations -she is sublime as Eva ,the part of a little girl- and finally a broken human being,living in poverty,beaten by the man she loves in spite of all.

This is a movie for people with a strong heart ,and Martin Ritt was always an activist director ;I'd tone it a bit : he had always thought that France was the country where there was no racism (see also "Paris blues ,1961):it's wishful thinking.

That said ,you should not miss this courageous work.


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