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Long Walk Home

Long Walk Home

4.0 3
Director: Richard Pearce

Cast: Sissy Spacek, Whoopi Goldberg, Dwight Schultz


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Though John Cork's screenplay occasionally relies upon stock characters and situations to make its points, The Long Walk Home is for most part an on-the-money recreation of a troubled era in American history. The time is 1955; the place, Montgomery, Alabama. When Rosa Parks, an African American woman, is arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white


Though John Cork's screenplay occasionally relies upon stock characters and situations to make its points, The Long Walk Home is for most part an on-the-money recreation of a troubled era in American history. The time is 1955; the place, Montgomery, Alabama. When Rosa Parks, an African American woman, is arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man, it is the first volley in the great Bus Boycott, organized by Dr. Martin Luther King in order to desegregate the Birmingham transportation system. The boycott is a decided inconvenience for Miriam Thompson (Sissy Spacek), a well-to-do white woman. Now, Miriam must drive to the black section of town to pick up her maid Odessa Cotter (Whoopi Goldberg) and bring her to work. Outside of her own social circle, Miriam realizes for the first time just how privileged, sheltered and self-centered her life has been. What brings this fact home is the realization that Odessa has literally been raising two families: the Thompsons' and her own. Odessa has also sacrificed her own health and wellbeing to serve her "white folks" without question or complaint. Awakened to the true inequities of "Separate But Equal," and impressed by Dr. King's edict of nonviolent resistance, Miriam joins the boycott. This stirs up the racist feelings harbored by Miriam's husband Norman (Dwight Schultz), who at the behest of his goonish brother Tunker (Dylan Baker) joins the Klanlike White Citizen's Council. Everyone's true nature is exposed during the inevitable showdown-and while nothing is resolved, there is renewed hope that justice will prevail. So far as anyone can determine, no wealthy white women really joined the bus boycott, nor was every white man in Birmingham aligned in some way with a hate group. These purely dramatic devices are injected into The Long Walk Home to personalize a struggle that, to many viewers of the 1990s, is as remote a historical event as the Civil War. Too, by creating a schism between the male and female characters, screenwriter Cork emphasizes the correlation between the civil rights activities of the 1950s and the much-later feminist movement. Those who feel uncomfortable with the handful of fabrications in The Long Walk Home will hopefully be appeased by the film's remarkable attention to period detail, not to mention the excellent performances of the two stars.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
There's a scene in The Long Walk Home in which the son of a long-suffering maid tries to intervene with a hate crime against his sister, and ends up absorbing the blows intended for her. Each time he gets on his feet again, his hands ball up into fists, before gradually relaxing to their prior condition of restraint. As viewers watch this powerful indictment of institutionalized racism in the South, they may feel a similar desire to express their anger through violence. And so they'll be even more amazed that those personally affected were able to resist peacefully -- a direct result of their desire to be taken seriously. The Long Walk Home does not break new ground among films about the civil rights movement, nor does it utilize anything but utterly straightforward techniques. Perhaps this last is why the film's message is so urgent and uncluttered. Helping in this regard are exceptional performances by Whoopi Goldberg and Sissy Spacek, not to mention their director, Richard Pearce. Goldberg, who has always opted for serious alternatives to her zany comedic roles, produces some of her best work in that parallel focus. Resigned to the realities of her world, including the occasional inconvenience of her own principles, Goldberg's Odessa Cotter is an image of proud stoicism. But Spacek's Miriam Thompson may be the more technically challenging role. Starting as the businesslike wife who inundates her maid with a laundry list of cavalier requests, she shows her evolving sympathy only gradually, through subtle gestures. She's a woman fighting not only her upbringing, but the blind stubbornness of her husband, with a weapon that often seems insufficient: her sense of human decency. Since Odessa essentially remains constant, it's Miriam's growth that marks the film's narrative catharsis -- which society on the whole would eventually mirror.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Echo Bridge
[Dolby Digital]

Special Features

Digitally mastered; Interactive menus; Chapter selections

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Sissy Spacek Miriam Thompson
Whoopi Goldberg Odessa Cotter
Dwight Schultz Norman Thompson
Ving Rhames Herbert Cotter
Dylan Baker Tunker Thompson
Erika Alexander Selma Cotter
Lexi Randall Mary Catherine Thompson
Richard Habersham Theodore Cotter
Jason Weaver Franklin Cotter
Mary Steenburgen Narrator
Crystal Thompson Actor
Cherene Snow Claudia
Chelcie Ross Martin
Dan Butler Charlie
Philip Sterling Winston
Haynes Brooke Policeman at Oak Park
Stacy Fleming Tall Boy
Jeff Taffet Boy #2
Jay Reed Boy #3
Afemo Omilami Taxi Driver
Norman Matlock Preacher
Shari Rhodes Actor
Crystal Robbins Sara Thompson
Schuyler Fisk Judy (Girl at Oak Park)
Nancy Moore Atchison Anne/Girl At Oak Park
Jim Aycock Roger
Rebecca Wackler Lucille
Jim Haffey Bus Driver
Graham Timbes Clyde Sellers
Bobby Howard Clipboard Man
Daniel Jenkins Auburn Fan #1
Kevin Thigpen Worker #1

Technical Credits
Richard Pearce Director
Edwin C. Atkins Associate Producer,Production Designer
Dave Bell Producer
Stuart Benjamin Executive Producer
Marie Carter Makeup
Mack Chapman Special Effects
John Cork Screenwriter
Shay Cunliffe Costumes/Costume Designer
Roger Deakins Cinematographer
Jo Ann Doster Casting
George Fenton Score Composer
Taylor Hackford Executive Producer
Howard W. Koch Producer
Gretchen Rau Set Decoration/Design
Shari Rhodes Casting
Blake Russell Production Designer
Allan Wyatt Stunts
Bill Yahraus Editor

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Opening Credits [8:46]
2. A Bartender [7:22]
3. Keep Going [9:34]
4. Don't Tell Daddy [6:39]
5. Christmas Dinner [8:37]
6. Against the Rules [8:13]
7. Devastating News [8:28]
8. Taking Sides [7:03]
9. You'll Have to Walk [8:30]
10. Determined Mind [10:41]
11. Things Get Tough [7:33]
12. Closing Credits [3:51]


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Long Walk Home 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Long Walk Home, a movie portraying the life of an African-American maid during the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955 and 1956, was very impressive. The movie started with Odessa Cotter’s family hearing of Rosa Parks’ arrest on a Montgomery bus because of her refusal to move to the back and a let a white have her seat. All of the blacks in Montgomery had been asked not to use bus transportation on Monday, December 5, 1955, They were determined to take a stand for their rights. Walking to work or school wouldn’t hurt the blacks, and missing one day of school if they couldn’t walk would not damage a black student’s school record tremendously. Led by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., the bus boycott took place. The movie even played some recordings of the valued man’s speeches! The movie showed the massive gatherings outside of black churches to listen to the inspiring words of Dr. King, and to sing hymns of praise and hope to God. The movie also brought to the attention of its viewers the outlook of the white man amidst all the chaos of the Montgomery bus boycott. White men felt that negroes wanted to get farther in the world than they were willing to work for. While Odessa was a hard-working black maid, “she didn’t show her true self or intentions to her employers,” or so they felt. The informative film revealed how hard African-Americans toiled for their complete rights of equality, with nonviolent protests they participated in led by Montgomery Improvement Association president Dr. King. The movie also tactfully portrayed how the Ku Klux Klan treated blacks, as well as the not-so-well-known White Citizen’s Council, whom Odessa’s male employer participated in. It showed how the Council tried to shut down the boycott and a carpool for black workers, only to be opposed. The motion picture delightfully illustrated how perseverant the bus boycott of the 1950s was. The Long Walk Home is a great supplement for learning about the civil rights movement. Without unnecessary violence or language, John Cork’s screenplay gives viewers of this day and age a look at how their ancestors might have observed the behaviors of those around them.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie is about the ''Montgomery Bus Boycott'', not Birmingham. It was even filmed in Montgomery, AL, my dad was an extra. Please correct your synopsis. Thanks!