Miss Evers' Boys (TV Movie 1997) Poster

(1997 TV Movie)

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Response to "Pure Propaganda for the Ignorant"
twinklevango18 February 2006
I went to the "Spiked" website and read the article mentioned in the previous post. That article is a fancy bit of rationalization. The bottom line is you don't promise anyone hope in the face of possible death when that hope was nothing more than a lie to begin with. That is the heart and soul of why this movie is so important. It does expose a terrible lie perpetrated upon unsuspecting people. If they had been told the truth, it would have been morally different. In fact, the eventual monetary compensation the men and families received was too small for a lifetime of hopes and deception.

The article on "Spiked" only made me appreciate the movie and the excellent acting all that much more.

The acting was powerful, and it looked like a labor of love. I think everyone involved with this film must have felt the weight of purpose for getting out the truth of what had happened. It is one of the best acted, most well written movies ever and I encourage people to see it.
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What in the World Did They Think They Were Doing??!!
Jalea31 March 2003

It was hard for me to sympathize with the central character, Nurse Evers, portrayed by Woodard. I thought that she betrayed the men and was in denial. Subsequently, she was locked in because of the lying and deceit and tried to make up for it by dedicating her life to the men she helped deceived. That only resulted, however, in two more wasted lives, hers and the man that loved her.

I kept wondering, what is wrong with this woman, is she nuts or what?! As far as I am concerned with the study conflicted with their true "calling" as health care professionals. During the senate investigation Ms. Evers (Woodard) was asked "What in the world did you think you were doing??!! My sentiments, exactly.
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A film about science, well how INTERESTING!
stamper20 June 2002
First of all, I must say that this was one of the best TV movies I've ever seen. Not only were there quality actors (Alfre Woodard, Laurence Fishburn, Joe Morton), but the people involved succeeded in making this an honest drama and not one where the schmaltz comes dripping out of your screen. As for the film itself I must say that all the cast and crew were great and I had no complaints about the film, but one. I really missed that sarcastic edge in the end. I mean, if I was a director I would have blacked out the screen in the end and would have inserted the conclusion of the experiment there. You know a black screen with something like: ‘Compared to whites, blacks do not react differently to syphilis.' taken from … and so on. I would have really liked that, because I (as a first year psychology student) have read about a lot of experiments even now, some of which were morally more acceptable than others, but never in my life have I read something as terrible as this. Do not get me wrong, I understood the intention at the beginning of the experiment, but I think it was unhuman to go along with it. Even if some men had died from getting pene - something (an anti biotic), it would have been better than the terrible death they faced through syphilis. But what about science you ask? Screw the data!

7 out of 10
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Excellent Movie
Bliggle2 April 2005
Wow!! What a real eye-opener!! I had to watch this movie for a medical bioethics class and I really learned a lot from watching it. I thought the way things were presented were done quite well. It really showed me how cruel things were back in that time frame and opened my eyes to watch things around me in the present. What a shame that this event took place. How unfair it was to these poor men and their families. It makes me appreciate even more the stand that people take on behalf of others.

I have to commend Miss Evers' for her dedication to these men and all that she tried to do to help them regardless of the consequences. It is too sad that she was not able to do more. As far as Dr. Brodus and the other Dr. goes, it is a shame that they were coerced into thinking that in just 6 mos to a year the funds would become available to give real treatment to these men.

At the end, when there were so few men left alive, I am grateful that they were compensated somewhat for the suffering they had to endure. At the same time, it saddens me that so many had to die from this horrible disease to begin with even when the medication became available.

My condolences to the families for sure and my gratitude to the AP for bringing this to the forefront.
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Wonderful but incredibly sad
MartinHafer22 November 2005
I have seen this film several times and use it as a teaching aid when I teach my high school psychology class, as it brings up issues concerning unethical treatment as well as brain disorders (in this case syphilis). The film is VERY moving and you can't help but get absorbed into the film due to its excellent writing and characterizations. About the only reason the film doesn't merit a 10 is that the background for the movie is vague and I needed to research on my own. I found that the movie was based on a play which was a fictionalized account of a true study done in the Southern US. Like the real case, the participants were lied to and told they were getting treatment. As a result, most died a long and horrible death due to a slow disintegration of the brain. The character of Miss Evers, by the way, was fictional as were the names of the other participants. However, despite this, this in no way minimizes the horror of the real-life tale. This is a sad and moving must-see film.
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A well crafted blend of docu and drama.
George Parker4 March 2001
"MEB" tells the story of the infamous "Tuskeegee Syphilis Study" by building the docudrama around a black nurse (Woodard) who hailed from the black community which was the focus of the study. The polished and well crafted film spends equal time with the lives of the Macon County black sharecroppers and the questions of medical ethics the study raised resulting in an entertaining as well as informative watch. A nice mix of docu and drama, fact and fiction.
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The Legacy of Miss Evers Boys
czarsun16 July 2010
Most viewers agree that the betrayal of Nurse Evers and Dr.Brodus was heinous. Regardless of whatever medical oath is taken, God's Commandments come first. And that goes for the military also. What makes Nurse Ever's and Dr.Brodus's actions more fiendish is the fact of allowing these men to live normal lives while participating in this study. Normal as being, continuing to have sexual relations with their unknowing wives, as well as other women in their community. Giving birth to children from those sexual relations in which those children entered the world infected over a 40 year period. They speak of numbers (412), but in fact , it really numbered into the thousands considering that several generations of men, woman, and children were infected through this study. In my eyes, that amounts to genocide which was sanctioned by the CDC.
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Great movie.
lmy108622 June 2006
I had extreme doubts before watching this movie. I mean, it's a made for TV film, and I was assigned to watch it for an ethics portion of my biostatistics class.

It is hands down the best movie I've ever seen made for television (although I admit I haven't seen all that many). It has excellent acting, and it deals with the subject from an interesting point of view-- instead of coming from the eyes of a patient, it's from that of a caregiver. It's historically accurate, but it still tells a compelling story.

While it illustrates how far the United States has come (in terms of minimizing racism), it still is an example of how racism is prolonged in the media. Had this movie gotten more funding and gone to the big screen, I'm sure it would've won some awards. But I suppose America still isn't ready to face its gruesome past.
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Nicholas Rhodes5 December 2003
I bought this together with "A Lesson Before Dying" by the same director and whilst I found the latter well-filmed, engrossing and very good on character analysis, I found Miss Evers' Boys to be a bit of a disappointment. You don't really get taken up into the story. Picture quality is hazy and fuzzy and you end up wondering really where Miss Evers was going in life ........... nowhere ! When you read the synopsis, you think you're in for a good, emotional, heart-rending story. However, that is not the impression which was conveyed to me. Miss Evers' even refuses romance, which could have been a saving grace. Why didn't she subtilise more penicillin if she was so concerned ? I tend to like these "racial" dramas, even though they are over-romanticized, but this one left me pretty near cold !
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lucien-827 December 2005
I missed the beginning of the movie and thought it was just fiction, just to find out after a few years (when Clinton announced to give an apology) that this was a true story. It was right then and there that I lost my last believe in America. The movie is brilliant and the actors did some superb work. The story gives a good view of how things could have been back then. It also shows that things happen far beyond our influence, and that we voters are not really in charge. If the story is twisted,as some say, why did they only use black people. Why did Clinton apologize? Another lie is the use of penicillin far in the fifties. Penicillin treatment started in the early forties and became standard procedure in the mid-forties. Even Al Capone was treated in penitentiary years earlier. This shows how important black people are in the USA. I know that right now these things still go on. In a few years, more black, Latino and other poor "not white" Miss Evers Boys will be discovered. Slavery never stopped. Only the methods are better disguised and refined. I hope that more of these stories will reach the world. There is way too much injustice in this world. And not only against blacks. These kind of movies raise our moral standards. Pardon my poor English.
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An interesting story lived by a cast but letdown by delivery
bob the moo17 November 2003
Eunice Evers is a nurse who gets involved in treatment trials of Afro-Americans in the south for syphilis. She helps the doctors treat many hundreds of men but then the Government cuts the funding and replaces it with funding for a study that the disease works the same in blacks as much as whites. However the study removes the treatment for a set period and lets the men slowly fade away.

From the HBO stable of TV movies, I was attracted by the fact that it was based on a true story that I was not aware of, plus it had a few good actors in the lead roles. The story is potentially quite moving and I don't know why the tvm didn't manage to bring that across very well. It was told reasonably well but it never had me really touched or moved. That said the story was still quite good, even if it could easily have lost a bit of running time – the senate hearing was a good frame for telling the story. It was just a major problem for me that the film wasn't gripping and wasn't powerful, I mean, the Government sanctioned these men's deaths for the greater good – why isn't this film setting TV sets alight!?

The cast are pretty good in the main roles but not as strong in support. In support the actors mainly just do some mugging and play African-American workingmen stereotypes. Woodard is a good actress and gives a great performance in the lead. Fishburne and Morton lend support with small but important roles and the support cast have a few nice character pieces.

Overall this is an uninvolving film and I don't really understand why at all; the story is true and powerful and the cast are all reasonably good. However the film is flat for most of the telling – it's worth seeing once but it is more of a slog than it should be.
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Tuskegee terror
donaldricco25 June 2018
This is a tough one to review. For me, the subject is horrifying, and that the country I live in would do this is sickening, though of course, the U.S. President today would probably green light this kind of human suffering in a minute, in light of his recent actions against minorities. Some 400 odd men are observed, but not cured, and the justification is for the betterment of the "race" and that those men's sacrifice would be for the greater good. Yeah, tell that to those men, who could have been cured with one shot of penicillin!

So the subject = 5 stars. But the movie isn't that great. The romance subplot is really boring and uninteresting. And the quality of both the film and the sound is poor, though that might be the disc I watched. I would say you should watch it, due to the importance of the topic, but maybe skip any dating/romance scenes between Alfre Woodard and Laurence Fishburne, two dang fine actors who could not save those scenes. Oh, and just to see and hear Ossie Davis is always worth it!
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..no public response after the TV movie?..
fimimix24 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
You would think, even people not with The NAACP (who brought the lawsuit against the federal government), would have made a very large noise about this horrific study. BUT - I was one of those uninfomed people; I had no idea the study was being conducted, and I'm from Mississippi, not TOO far from Tuskegee. I've mentioned in other comments that I was doing an exhaustive research into AIDS; I eventually got a whole room full of reports and documents from The Department of Health under the Freedom of Information Act.......some of the studies contained more than a hundred-thousand pages, including a huge one on the study of syphilis in Black males in Macon County, Alabama. I'm not really certain just when I became aware of this large-scale murder: my AIDS-research was done in the early '80s, but the Tuskegee Study ended in 1972. All of my research was done through reading several newspapers and making contact with the people who wrote them or was mentioned in them. I eventually was corresponding with scientists, researchers both American and foreign - all of the major parties involved around the world: I planned to write an expose'. I just happened to read an article about The Tuskegee Study in a newspaper; the weight of my correspondence and this shocking discovery were the main reasons why I finally gave-up.

I don't recall any loud noise about this scandal in 1972 - it's a mystery to me why I didn't know about it, or why some of the scientists I was corresponding with never mentioned it. The Senate hearings must have been very quiet, because I didn't hear didley-poop about them. As the messages at the end of "Miss Evers' Boys" state, President Clinton apologized in the '90s. This leaves me to wonder if all the presidents before him, back to 1932, knew about the study. If they did, shame on them ! Shocking ! I believe President Truman halted the whole business. "Drop the bomb, but don't fund The Tuskegee Study....."

To "smokehill_retrievers", I am appalled that you think this whole scandal was a hoax. "Google" has all the data - including "spiked". I agree with another "user" who states that ethnic discrimination is still a dark secret in this country. How dare we scream about "Darfur" and "Hotel Rwanda"? If our hypocrisy isn't being taught in OUR schools, I'm sure schools all around the world are teaching what an uninformed society we still are. Spreading democracy in Iraq?......

Joseph Sargent directed a marvelous movie, even for TV. I find no fault with it, and feel all of the cast were brilliant. Walter Bernstein wrote an outstanding script. Laurence Fishburne, the smart guy who "read the book" and got himself healed was stellar; Craig Sheffer (Dr. Douglas) and Joe Marton (Dr. Sam Brooks) did their dirty work brilliantly, to prove that "colored" people weren't physically different than anyone else; Obba Babatunde's dreams of dancing at The Cotton Club in NY City breaks the heart, still trying to dance after 40 years of untreated suffering; Ossie David (Mr. Evers) made a statement how all dads should nuture their children; E.G. Marshal was effective as the Senate-committee Chairman, as all of the rest were.

Alfre Woodman deserves an Oscar; she is the Black Bette Davis. She portrays a devoted individual who does all the ingenious dirty work to get the men enrolled; is the epitome of "the doctor knows best", when she knows better; her dramatic acting is brilliant, especially with Fishburne and the man who had reverted to voodoo to attempt to curing himself, not to mention her ethnic comedy. Her accusing the entire Congress of sweeping this monstrous scandal under the carpet for so many years, "then trying to blame me", is a scene to use a whole box of tissues on. BTW, the actual nurse's name was "Rivers". Why do we not see this lady in other film ?

Bravo! for all who had a part in this wonderful movie. Too bad that major studios in Hollywood didn't recognize this is a story that needs to be told, and then told again. Nearly the entire cast is African-American, and what a performance they all give. This movie deserves a release in major theaters, without ANY changes. There should also be a major release on DVD, but who would be alive to talk about it? The NIH in Bethesda (Maryland) is still mired in scandal over their researchers being highly paid by pharmaceutical companies to promote their drugs, and then take high-paid positions with them to keep them quiet. Disgraceful.....

I recommend this movie to everyone who is breathing - if you haven't seen it, then do - then buy it. It deserves a 20.....
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Pure Propaganda for the Ignorant
smokehill retrievers18 September 2005
Aside from wasting the talents of several top-notch actors, the biggest problem with this movie is that it's basically a lie from top to bottom. Most of the facts presented are essentially true, but they very carefully leave out other parts to turn this into a Good vs. Evil morality play, with the Evil White Government oppressing poor black sharecroppers and purposefully killing them by withholding treatment. I'm surprised Oliver Stone wasn't doing this one.

It leaves out the fact that the only treatment for syphilis well into the 50s was arsenic, a year-long, painful treatment that hardly anyone ever finished. Its effectiveness, even when completed, was highly questionable. It also leaves out the fact that the acute, contagious syphilitics (178 of them) WERE treated, though most refused to finish the painful arsenic series. The remainder, latent noncontagious cases, were the ones followed in the study. Medically, these were almost never treated anywhere since it was too late to be effective and the majority of them would have no long-term effects anyway (no matter what you learned in Health class).

The Congressional hearings were largely just a platform for the political race wars of the time and never let real science get in the way of a good show.

I grew a bit suspicious over the whole thing because I knew one of the participants of the study, a retired Army sergeant who worked at Walter Reed. He never had a problem with the study and as a medic he certainly understood the pros and cons. As an untreated latent, it never affected his wife or five grown children, and he was in good health the last time I saw him at age 72.

For those with half a brain who are interested in the truth rather than Hollywood B.S., there is an excellent article at:

http://www.spiked-online.com/Articles/0000000CA34A.htm I's have given this a 4 for the lousy direction, but I dropped it to a 2 because I don't like being lied to by Hollywood race-baiters.
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Uninvolving and uninteresting true story
kingstinky18 December 2002
It's been said about true stories that `you can't make that up'. Unfortunately, you could make this true story up, and in fact, you could probably turn it into a much better movie. However, Alfre Woodard does give an outstanding performance as Miss Evers, and you do begin to feel for the characters and want them to pull through. Even though some of their actions are unexplained and not believable, you find yourself sitting next to Miss Evers as she pleads her case to the court.

Yes, this story never goes anywhere that you don't expect it to. Yes, it begins flat and stays that way all the way to the end. But like it or not, this movie is an important one. It's a movie that deserves to be seen.

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The Tragedy Of Lies
sddavis6324 July 2010
This very solid movie is a recreation of the Tukseegee experiments, in which a group of African American men were lied to about receiving treatment for syphilis, and were simply allowed to die from the disease as a part of a government "study" even though a completely effective treatment (simple penicillin) had been found early on.

There's a good performance here from Alfre Woodward as Eunice Evers, the compassionate nurse who signs on to help with the treatment program and then, after the funding for the program runs out, stays with the program once it becomes a study of how the men will fare without treatment. She gets caught up in the lie, insisting to the end that something worthwhile had come out of this experiment, but throughout the movie has definite moral qualms about this which are overcome by her desire to care for the men who are dying of the disease.

It's a very sad fact that this is a true story. It's treated as a flashback, as Miss Evers testifies before a U.S. Senate Committee hearing on the experiment. The study apparently ran for forty years (beginning in 1932) and most of the afflicted men died without receiving any treatment for the disease. The closing captions tell us that the survivors and the families of those who died received financial compensation of ridiculously small amounts, and that it was not until 1997 that the United States Government (through President Clinton) actually apologized for what had been done. This is a very sad movie almost the whole way through - certainly not one that will lift your spirits, but it's an important movie about something that should never have been allowed to happen in the first place.
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