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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

James Earl Jones was the voice of Darth Vader in the 1977 hit movie Star Wars. 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

Cap'n Dan: [Trying to convince Brady to fight Jefferson] Now, Frank, when you retired with that gold belt last summer nobody thought it would work out like this. We just thought, match the two best heavies, and whoever beats who is the top man. Right? Nobody thought the nigger would lick one first, and then go after the other all the way to Australia.
Smith aka Smitty, Evening Mirror Reporter: I was down in Melbourne for the paper, Mr. Brady, and let me tell you, no paper here could print how bad it really was. He'd say, "Wanna hit me now, fella?" ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

Screenplay by Howard Sackler Based on his play See more »

Connections

Referenced in Love Ranch (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

I Always Think I'm Up In Heaven (When I'm Down In Dixieland)
(uncredited)
Written by Maurice Abrahams, Sam Lewis and Joe Young
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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