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Ghosts of Mississippi (1996)

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A Mississippi district attorney and the widow of Medgar Evers struggle to finally bring a white racist to justice for the 1963 murder of the civil rights leader.

Director:

Rob Reiner

Writer:

Lewis Colick
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Alec Baldwin ... Bobby DeLaughter
James Woods ... Byron De La Beckwith
Virginia Madsen ... Dixie DeLaughter
Whoopi Goldberg ... Myrlie Evers
Susanna Thompson ... Peggy Lloyd
Craig T. Nelson ... Ed Peters
Lucas Black ... Burt DeLaughter
Joseph Tello Joseph Tello ... Drew DeLaughter
Alexa PenaVega ... Claire DeLaughter (as Alexa Vega)
William H. Macy ... Charlie Crisco
Ben Bennett Ben Bennett ... Benny Bennett (as Lloyd 'Benny' Bennett)
Darrell Evers Darrell Evers ... Himself
Yolanda King Yolanda King ... Reena Evers
Jerry Levine ... Jerry Mitchell
James Van Evers James Van Evers ... Van Evers
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Storyline

Ghosts of Mississippi is a real-life drama covering the final trial of Byron De La Beckwith, the assassin of heroic civil rights leader Medgar Evers. The movie begins with the murder on June 12, 1963 and the events surrounding the two initial trials which both ended in hung juries. The movie then covers district attorney Bobby De Laughter's transformation and alliance with Myrlie Evers, Medgar Evers' widow, as he becomes more involved with bringing Beckwith to trial for the third time 30 years later. Byron De La Beckwith was convicted on February 5, 1994, after having remained a free man for much of the 30 years after the murder, giving justice for Medgar Evers' family. Written by Joel Schesser <joelsd@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

In 1963, civil rights leader Medgar Evers was murdered in his own driveway. For 30 years, his assassin has remained free. Is it ever too late to do the right thing? See more »

Genres:

Drama | History

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for a strong scene of violence and for racial dialogue | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 January 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Fantasmas del pasado See more »

Filming Locations:

Greenwood, Mississippi, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$36,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$168,012, 22 December 1996, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$13,052,741, 16 March 1997
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

SDDS (8 channels)| Dolby Digital

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The daughter of civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Yolanda King, played Medgar Evers' daughter Reena Evers in this film. See more »

Goofs

When Bobby Delaughter is on the phone to Myrlie Evers and Charley attempts to interrupt him with the news that Byron was quoted of having confessed to killing Evers years earlier, Bobby is wearing his wedding ring. Shortly thereafter when he's in the hospital for his eldest son's injury (and first meets the doctor, his second wife), he is not wearing wedding ring. See more »

Quotes

Myrlie Evers: [quoting Medgar Evers] I don't know if I'm going to Heaven or to Hell, but I'm going from Jackson.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Stardust: The Bette Davis Story (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free
Music by Billy Taylor
Lyrics by Billy Taylor and Dick Dallas
Additional arrangement by Marc Shaiman, Dan Higgins and Mervyn Warren
Performed by Nina Simone
Courtesy of The RCA Records Label of BMG Entertainment
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User Reviews

Not bad -- but we've been here before
22 June 2000 | by Captain EdSee all my reviews

I've seen this movie several times on the pay channels (the joys of modern television!). Overall the film is pretty good, and doesn't seem to take great license with history, which is refreshing. My only serious beef about this movie is the same as with Mississippi Burning and other films about the civil-rights struggle: Why do all of these movies insist on providing a white male central character, out to do good for the oppressed black people? Why not do this movie from the POV of Evers' widow, or brother? Because the (white male) power structure in Hollywood feels that audiences won't relate to stories without having a WASP in the middle of the action. This is not to minimize Bobby DeLaughter's role in bringing Byron de la Beckwith to justice; it's just to say that DeLaughter came along very late in the overall history of this case.

So, as to be expected, we're shown that DeLaughter braves ostracism, family conflict, and a death threat (probably a lot of them in real life). All very true, but we lose the fact that the Evers family went through all of this and more in 30 years of keeping the flame alive.

There are some good performances in here, especially James Woods, who had to be having a blast playing de la Beckwith, a mental midget and virulent racist in real life too. Baldwin is okay as DeLaughter but as bland as he normally is, even while affecting the Delta accent. Whoopi Goldberg is very good as the contemporary Myrlie Evers Williams, but ridiculous as the young widow in the flashback sequences. She's obviously too old, and it leaves you wondering if they were just too cheap to pay another actress or if Goldberg's ego is so large that she wouldn't allow it. The actor who played Evers' brother is so outstanding in such a small amount of screen time, you have to wonder why they didn't do more with him.

It's not a bad movie by any stretch, and it does give us a chance to see a little of what Medgar Evers was all about. I only wish that the film had been more about Medgar and Myrlie and much less about DeLaughter. As one other reviewer commented, this feels more like a made-for-TV movie than a theatrical release.


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