7.8/10
76,068
197 user 56 critic

Mississippi Burning (1988)

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Two F.B.I. Agents, with wildly different styles, arrive in Mississippi to investigate the disappearance of some civil rights activists.

Director:

Alan Parker

Writer:

Chris Gerolmo
Reviews
Popularity
2,543 ( 245)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 16 wins & 24 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gene Hackman ... Anderson
Willem Dafoe ... Ward
Frances McDormand ... Mrs. Pell
Brad Dourif ... Deputy Pell
R. Lee Ermey ... Mayor Tilman
Gailard Sartain ... Sheriff Stuckey
Stephen Tobolowsky ... Townley
Michael Rooker ... Frank Bailey
Pruitt Taylor Vince ... Lester Cowens
Badja Djola ... Agent Monk
Kevin Dunn ... Agent Bird
Frankie Faison ... Eulogist
Thomas B. Mason Thomas B. Mason ... Judge (as Tom Mason)
Geoffrey Nauffts ... Goatee
Rick Zieff ... Passenger
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Storyline

Two FBI agents investigating the murder of civil rights workers during the 60s seek to breach the conspiracy of silence in a small Southern town where segregation divides black and white. The younger agent trained in FBI school runs up against the small town ways of his former Sheriff partner. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

1964. When America was at war with itself.


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 January 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Three Lives for Mississippi See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$225,034, 11 December 1988, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$34,603,943, 31 December 1989
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Orion Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color (DeLuxe)| Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film is inspired by the murder by the Ku Klux Klan of voting rights activists James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman. See more »

Goofs

When agents Anderson and Ward first arrive in town, the air in the street in front of the courthouse is full of dust clouds. However, when they park and leave their car, the air is clear. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Driver: Uh, oh.
Passenger: What is it?
Passenger: [seeing the car behind them] What do they want?
Driver: I don't know... just pass me... pass me...
Driver: [trying to identify the following car] Is it a cop?
Passenger: I can't see.
[they are hit from behind]
Driver: What the fuck are these jokers playin' at?
Rear passenger: Oh, they ain't playin', you better believe it.
[...]
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Connections

Referenced in Rich Hall's the Dirty South (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Take My Hand Precious Lord
Words and Music by Thomas A. Dorsey
Performed by Mahalia Jackson
Courtesy of CBS Records
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
1964 - The year America was at war with itself!
6 September 2006 | by faraaj-1See all my reviews

1964 - The year America was at war with itself! Thats a pretty good tag-line. The promotion for this film seemed to pitch it as a thriller or a buddy movie. It is neither. This is a very mature investigation of a racist Mississippi town where the brutal murder of three civil rights activists took place in 1964. The film is inspired by real-life events.

Dafoe and Hackman play the two FBI agents sent to investigate. Their differing styles of pursuing the case and Dafoe's belated admiration for Hackman's "method's" is an interesting layer of flesh added to the structure of the film.

You will see some really nasty racist characters played by familiar faces like Brad Dourif, Lee Ermey and an especially violent Michael Rooker. All are excellent. Frances McDormand really steals the movie as the wife of racist Dourif.

This film is far more intelligent than some of the Stanley Kramer movies of the 60's which dealt with racism. It does not shy away from showing the seriousness (and sickness) of the racial mindset without being excessively preachy. It is in fact very watchable - largely due to a colorful and humorous Hackman whose character was himself a Mississippi small-town Sheriff at one time and understands the pitfalls of the Hoover boys going in all guns blazing.

Highly recommended!


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