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Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes (2018)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 28 February 2020 (Sweden)
The life and times of Muhammad Ali, as shown through the lens of his numerous appearances on The Dick Cavett Show.


Robert S. Bader


Credited cast:
Muhammad Ali ... Self (archive footage)
Jimmy Breslin ... Self (archive footage)
Jim Brown ... Self (archive footage)
Dick Cavett ... Self
Howard Cosell ... Self (archive footage)
Angelo Dundee ... Self (archive footage)
Joe Frazier ... Self (archive footage)
Thomas Hauser Thomas Hauser ... Self
Joe Louis ... Self (archive footage)
Lester Maddox Lester Maddox ... Self (archive footage)
Norman Mailer ... Self (archive footage)
Michael Marley Michael Marley ... Self
Larry Merchant ... Self
Ferdie Pacheco Ferdie Pacheco ... Self (archive footage)
Randy Roberts ... Self
Learn more

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The life and times of Muhammad Ali, as shown through the lens of his numerous appearances on The Dick Cavett Show.

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Needed More Focus And Less Re-Hashing
22 February 2020 | by zkonedogSee all my reviews

When focusing on a documentary subject like Muhammad Ali, who has been picked apart by storytellers and journalists almost ad nauseam and will continue to be until the end of time, it is easy to fall into the trap of re-hashing all the classic stories and losing focus on the uniqueness of the concept that may have prompted the new doc on him. While "Ali & Cavett" isn't bad by any means, it does spring that trap far too much to be considered "great".

Ostensibly, the angle on Ali that this documentary takes is examining The Greatest via his appearances on the popular 1970s TV talk show hosted by Dick Cavett, who was able to get some candid and genuine moments from the gregarious Ali when others failed at the task.

Those interview clips are indeed fascinating, and in terms of the info this doc presents on Ali's involvement within the Nation of Islam (and how he was very likely used as their puppet/mouthpiece), it did provide me with some interesting information to chew on. To be honest, I wish the entire runtime would have simply focused on those two concepts (Cavett & Ali's religion/politics). Had that happened, this probably would have received a higher star ranking from me.

As I said in the opening, though, "Ali & Cavett" spends too much time re-hashing Ali's boxing exploits and showing the same clips or sound bytes we've seen over and over already. Ali's larger-than-life status likely renders this too irresistible for the film makers to avoid, especially if roping in casual viewers is important (and it always is). For someone like myself who has "seen them all" when it comes to Ali docs, though, a solid 70% of this one is "old news".

So, while I can't say this is a bad documentary by any stretch of the imagination, the amount of fresh, new material is relatively small within in. As such, your enjoyment of it overall may be determined by your previous Ali knowledge level.

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