Great White Hope

The Great White Hope

Director: Martin Ritt

Cast: James Earl Jones, Jane Alexander, Lou Gilbert

     
 
Although the characters' names were changed, The Great White Hope was a thinly veiled account of the trials and tribulations of boxer Jack Johnson, based on the play by Howard Sackler and directed by Martin Ritt. James Earl Jones stars as boxing great Jack Jefferson, who defeats Frank Bardy Larry Pennell in a Reno, Nevada bout to become the world's first black

Overview

Although the characters' names were changed, The Great White Hope was a thinly veiled account of the trials and tribulations of boxer Jack Johnson, based on the play by Howard Sackler and directed by Martin Ritt. James Earl Jones stars as boxing great Jack Jefferson, who defeats Frank Bardy Larry Pennell in a Reno, Nevada bout to become the world's first black heavyweight champion. After crossing a state line with his white girlfriend Eleanor (Jane Alexander in her feature debut), however, Jack is arrested and tried under the miscegenation-barring Mann Act. Found guilty and sentenced to three years in prison, Jack escapes and leaves the U.S., but he's dogged by his now bad reputation and can't get honest work as a fighter. Offered his freedom from criminal charges if he'll agree to a fixed fight in Cuba that will restore the title to a white contender, Jack refuses and Eleanor commits suicide, their life on the run overwhelming her. Jack finally accepts the bout in Havana, but he fights his opponent with everything he's got.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Michael Costello
Martin Ritt's screen adaptation of the Howard Sackler play which catapulted James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander to fame in 1967 remains essentially the filmed record of a stage work, but in its stinging eloquence, and in what is arguably Jones' finest performance on film, it retains a rewarding vitality. Set in 1910, the story of Jack Jefferson (Jones) and his attempt to establish his preeminence as the world heavyweight champion in the face of a white world which conspired against him, it's loosely based on the tragic life of Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight champ. Like the play, the film reveals the ugliness of the boxer's life as a marked man after winning the heavyweight crown, hounded by boxing officials and politicians who used the illegality of his marriage to a white woman (Alexander) to keep on the run and out of the ring. Despite its huge cast of characters and backdrops spread across five continents, the film's tragic hero evokes virtually imprisoned classical figures such as Milton's Samson and Sophocles' Philoctetes, also gifted men unjustly tormented. Jones' towering performance gives voice to the pride and intelligence which makes the boxer's suffering even more acute, as he watches his career destroyed by racist cowards. Alexander in the lesser role of his tragic mate is easily his equal.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/11/2005
UPC:
0024543104667
Original Release:
1970
Rating:
PG13
Source:
20th Century Fox
Region Code:
1
Time:
1:42:00
Sales rank:
27,268

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
James Earl Jones Jack Jefferson
Jane Alexander Eleanor
Lou Gilbert Goldie
Joel Fluellen Tick
Chester Morris Pop Weaver
Robert Webber Dixon
Marlene Warfield Clara
R.G. Armstrong Cap'n Dan
Hal Holbrook Cameron
Beah Richards Mama Tiny
Moses Gunn Scipio
Lloyd Gough Smitty
George Ebeling Fred
Larry Pennell Brady
Roy E. Glenn Pastor
Marcel Dalio French Promoter
Rodopho (Rudy) Acosta El Jefe
Virginia Capers Sister Pearl
Scatman Crothers Barker
Basil Dignam English Official
Robert A. Davis Actor
Karl Otto Alberty Hans
Oscar Beregi Ragosy
Manuel Padilla Paco
Rockne Tarkington Rudy
Bill Walker Deacon

Technical Credits
Martin Ritt Director
Raphael Bretton Set Decoration/Design
Ed Butterworth Makeup
John De Cuir Production Designer
Jesse Fuller Songwriter
Burnett Guffey Cinematographer
Donald McKayle Choreography
Lionel Newman Score Composer
William H. Reynolds Editor
Howard O. Sackler Screenwriter
Walter Scott Set Decoration/Design
Irene Sharaff Costumes/Costume Designer
Jack Martin Smith Art Director
Theodore Soderberg Sound/Sound Designer
Jack Solomon Sound/Sound Designer
Paul Stanhope Makeup
Dan Striepeke Makeup
Lawrence Turman Producer
Vinton Vernon Sound/Sound Designer
Tim Zinnemann Asst. Director

Scene Index

Side #1 -- The Great White Hope [FS]
1. Main Titles [2:45]
2. The White Hope [2:42]
3. The Contender [4:31]
4. News Conference [2:37]
5. Fight Day [1:38]
6. Thinking Colored [6:01]
7. The New Champion [2:42]
8. How Much White? [3:20]
9. The D.A.'s Inquiry [1:10]
10. Jack & Eleanor [2:38]
11. Under Arrest [6:57]
12. Jumping Bail [:38]
13. Unwanted in England [5:20]
14. A Fifth-Rate Fight [3:49]
15. Bending the Situation [5:56]
16. Germany [3:58]
17. A Hungarian Uncle Tom [4:32]
18. Trouble at Home [3:18]
19. Slow Poison [:33]
20. Making It Easier [4:22]
21. Death and a Decision [4:37]
22. The Final Battle [:49]
23. Beaten [2:40]
24. End Titles [9:30]
Side #2 -- The Great White Hope [WS]
1. Main Titles [2:45]
2. The White Hope [2:42]
3. The Contender [4:31]
4. News Conference [2:37]
5. Fight Day [1:38]
6. Thinking Colored [6:01]
7. The New Champion [2:42]
8. How Much White? [3:20]
9. The D.A.'s Inquiry [1:10]
10. Jack & Eleanor [2:38]
11. Under Arrest [6:57]
12. Jumping Bail [:38]
13. Unwanted in England [5:20]
14. A Fifth-Rate Fight [3:49]
15. Bending the Situation [5:56]
16. Germany [3:58]
17. A Hungarian Uncle Tom [4:32]
18. Trouble at Home [3:18]
19. Slow Poison [:33]
20. Making It Easier [4:22]
21. Death and a Decision [4:37]
22. The Final Battle [:49]
23. Beaten [2:40]
24. End Titles [9:30]

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