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The Night James Brown Saved Boston (2008)

Unrated | | Documentary, Music | TV Movie 5 April 2008
The film documents that remarkable concert and the politics around it. Boston Mayor Kevin White and his colleagues almost by accident realized that by televising the James Brown concert ... See full summary »


David Leaf


Morgan Neville




Credited cast:
Muhammad Ali ... Self (archive footage)
Michael Ambrosino Michael Ambrosino ... Self
Tom Atkins Tom Atkins ... Self
Charles Bobbitt Charles Bobbitt ... Self (as Charles Bobbit)
James Brown ... Self (archive footage)
Bobby Byrd Bobby Byrd ... Self (archive footage)
James Byrd James Byrd ... Self (as James 'Early' Byrd)
Mike Douglas ... Self (archive footage)
Pee Wee Ellis Pee Wee Ellis ... Self
Dick Flavin Dick Flavin ... Self (as Richard Flavin)
David Gates David Gates ... Self
Robert Hall Robert Hall ... Self (as Dr. Robert Hall)
Dennis Haysbert ... Self - Narrator (voice)
Hubert H. Humphrey ... Self (archive footage)
Ellen Jackson Ellen Jackson ... Self


The film documents that remarkable concert and the politics around it. Boston Mayor Kevin White and his colleagues almost by accident realized that by televising the James Brown concert they could keep people indoors that night prevent widespread rioting. The film is almost testimony to the power of music in general and the power of James Brown's music in particular. The film is a tribute to the Godfather of Soul and the role he would come to play in working for civil rights. Written by Anonymous

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Documentary | Music


Unrated | See all certifications »

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Edited into Race for Space (2010) See more »

User Reviews

Interesting and entertaining
18 July 2009 | by deschreiberSee all my reviews

I am a fan of James Brown - his concert in the Streetsville Arena near Toronto on the night of the great blackout was a highlight on my youth - so I found this film informative and delightful. It's a great way for people who never his saw his show as it was back in those days to get an idea of what it might have been like. His "big show" approach, with smooth, scripted emceeing, warmup acts, comedy, everything done with near military precision, paved the way for the big concerts of today. In fact, a lot of shows today look awfully loosey-goosey compared to his. But the film focuses on the social significance of that show in Boston, which kept potential rioters off the streets in order to watch a special broadcast of the James Brown show live on television.

It's said he was working for the higher good. Well, JB often did, but the film makes clear on this night that he was ready to turn his back; he wasn't going to do his part to help calm the city unless he was paid his full going rate. And the shame of the city of Boston is that, according to a member of the JB team, they only paid part of the fee. They should have paid it ten time over, considering the destruction he almost certainly saved the city from.

Not every moment of the film is riveting, but it's well worth watching, leaving you with some interesting thoughts about the importance of music.

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Release Date:

5 April 2008 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Az éjszaka, amikor James Brown megmentette Bostont See more »

Filming Locations:

Boston, Massachusetts, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

David Leaf Productions See more »
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Technical Specs



Color | Black and White (archive footage)
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