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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:

From the director of A Few Good Men comes a compelling true story. 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

Robert DeLaughter served a federal prison sentence after pleading guilty to an obstruction of justice charge on July 30, 2009. He was released on April 13, 2011. See more »

Goofs

Although the film begins in 1989 and ends in 1994, the same child actors portraying Bobby DeLaughter's children are used from the beginning of the movie until the end, showing no signs of aging. See more »

Quotes

[Addressing the jury in summation]
Bobby DeLaughter: President John F. Kennedy in his landmark civil rights speech to the nation, delivered on the very night Medgar Evers was murdered, said: "We face a moral crisis as a country and as a people. Those who do nothing are inviting shame, as well as violence. Those who act boldly are recognizing right, as well as reality." Today, thirty years later, I'm asking you twelve ladies and gentlemen to act boldly; to hold this defendant accountable and find him guilty... ...
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Connections

Features In Cold Blood (1967) See more »

Soundtracks

The Ballad of Medgar Evers
Written by Matthew Jones
Performed by The Freedom Singers (as The SNCC Freedom Singers) Led by Matthew Jones
Courtesy of Mercury Records, Inc.
By Arrangement with PolyGram Film & TV Licensing
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Last Mile Of The Way
4 September 2006 | by krorieSee all my reviews

Medgar Evers' tragic murder in Jackson, Mississippi, was overshadowed by the cold-blooded killing of three civil rights workers near Philadelphia, Mississippi, a year later. So too this film has been overshadowed by an earlier movie, "Mississippi Burning," about the Philadelphia homicides. I was even confused by the similar titles and accidentally rented "Ghosts of Mississippi," thinking it to be the earlier film. This is too bad because "Ghosts of Mississippi" is a winner all the way and Medgar Evers' assassination was as significant, if not more so, than the later dastardly acts of hate and malevolence.

Most of my generation remember one of Dylan's early recordings he wrote called "Pawn in the Game" about the Medgar Evers murder in which Dylan asserts that the coward who pulled the trigger and shot the civil rights leader in the back in front of his wife and three children was carrying out what the racist elements in Mississippi and in the nation as a whole had brainwashed the simple mind into executing. That the endemic racism in American was the real perpetrator of the heinous deed which deprived our society of one of its gifted leaders. "Ghosts of Mississippi" concentrates more on the scumbag who squeezed the trigger, played with élan by James Woods, almost a carbon copy of the killer in both speech, mannerisms, and looks.

James Woods is a member of a strong cast led by Whoopi Goldberg as the widow, Myrlie Evers, spending her life seeking a degree of justice for her husband and children. William H. Macy adds much needed humor in the role of Charlie Crisco, a member of the prosecution team. Unfortunately, his part is mainly limited to the middle section of the movie. Why director Rob Reiner and writer Lewis Colick decided to turn Macy's character into a cameo during the latter part of the film is unclear.

A subplot in the film is the growing involvement of prosecutor Bobby DeLaughter (Alec Baldwin) in the case, opening his eyes not only to the past evils of the society in which he lives but also hostile residue left by the civil rights movement in the state. Married to the daughter of one of Mississippi's most racist judges causes him to be blind to much of the injustice prevalent around him. Significantly, his wife is named Dixie (Virginia Madsen). The change that takes place in his character (which also involves a change in wives) as he is drawn deeper into the thirty-year-old case is pinpointed by his inability to continue to sing "Dixie" to his daughter to chase away the ghosts she sees at night. In explaining to her that the song might actually be encouraging the ghosts to reappear in her bedroom, the two opt for "Old McDonald" as a more suitable goodnight song.


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