6.9/10
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30 user 13 critic

The Great White Hope (1970)

PG-13 | | Drama, Romance, Sport | 16 October 1970 (USA)
A black champion boxer and his white female companion struggle to survive while the white boxing establishment looks for ways to knock him down.

Director:

Martin Ritt

Writers:

Howard Sackler (play), Howard Sackler (screenplay)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Earl Jones ... Jack Jefferson
Jane Alexander ... Eleanor Backman
Lou Gilbert Lou Gilbert ... Goldie
Joel Fluellen Joel Fluellen ... Tick
Chester Morris ... Pop Weaver
Robert Webber ... Dixon
Marlene Warfield ... Clara
R.G. Armstrong ... Cap'n Dan
Hal Holbrook ... District Attorney Al Cameron
Beah Richards ... Mama Tiny
Moses Gunn ... Scipio
Lloyd Gough ... Smitty
George Ebeling George Ebeling ... Fred
Larry Pennell ... Franklyn Brady
Roy Glenn ... Pastor (as Roy E. Glenn Sr.)
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Storyline

Boxer Jack Jefferson (James Earl Jones) is the world's reigning heavyweight boxing champion. There's just one problem, he is also the first black heavyweight champion, and that bothers a lot of people. Jack's celebration is cut short, as Jack is framed for crossing a state line with Eleanor, his white fiancé (Jane Alexander in her first film role), a violation of the Mann Act. Facing a prison sentence, Jack escapes to Europe, with Eleanor in tow, encountering problems in England, and then France, and eventually landing in Cuba. In Havana, Jack agrees to enter the boxing ring for what might be the bout of his life. Both Jones and Alexander were nominated for Oscars. Written by trivwhiz

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He could beat any white man in the world. He just couldn't beat all of them. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | Sport

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, and for language including racist dialogue | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Hungarian | German | Spanish

Release Date:

16 October 1970 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

L'insurgé See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$8,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Lawrence Turman See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Color by Deluxe)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The original Broadway production of "The Great White Hope" by Howard Sackler opened at the Alvin Theater in New York on October 3, 1968, ran for 546 performances and won the 1969 Tony Award for the Best Play. James Earl Jones won the 1969 Tony Award for Best Actor in Play and recreated his stage role in the movie version. Jane Alexander won the 1969 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play and recreated her stage role in the movie version. The play author also wrote the screenplay for the movie version. See more »

Goofs

In the first scene in which we see Jefferson practicing, the sweat on his shirt changes from shot to shot in a way that wouldn't be predicted by evaporation. See more »

Quotes

Dixon: Well, when a man beats us out like this, we, of course, look foolish, but more important, so does the law. People lose respect for law, and that we just cannot afford right now. You may not be aware of it yet, but a very large, very black migration is in progress. They're coming from the fields down South, filling up the slums. And I am talking about hundreds of thousands, maybe millions soon. Millions of ignorant Negroes rapidly massing together. Now, we cannot allow the image of this man to ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Screenplay by Howard Sackler Based on his play See more »

Connections

Referenced in Chicago Hope: Great White Hope (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

The Royal Telephone
(uncredited)
Written by Frederick M. Lehman
Arranged by Lionel Newman
See more »

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User Reviews

 
and we're still dealing with it today...
12 June 2005 | by lee_eisenbergSee all my reviews

Recently, Ken Burns wrote an editorial calling on Americans to make amends for what they as a society did to Jack Johnson. "The Great White Hope" shows what American society did to him.

James Earl Jones plays Johnson, called Jack Jefferson here (the movie is fictionalized). He was everything that a black man in the early 20th century was not supposed to be: assertive, proud, and married to a white woman. His wife Eleanor (Jane Alexander) accepted him for who he was. Naturally, white people didn't like their marriage one bit; the black population believed that Johnson was "...gainin' an attraction to the white man's poon tang." Ostracized from society, Jack and Eleanor tried to live privately, but they were constantly hounded. Jack became increasingly abusive towards Eleanor, until she took her own life. Distraught, Jack went in for one last showdown in Cuba.

Regardless of what you think of the movie overall, it's important because it shows a part of our history that we may never be able to get over, and in fact are still addressing today. Director Martin Ritt espouses the same kind of social awareness that he discussed in "Hud", "Sounder", "Conrack" and "The Front". A masterpiece.


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