Review: ‘The Great White Hope’

In its telling of the quasi-fictionalized public life of famed black heavyweight champ, circa 1910, Jack Johnson, the film's pacing and gritty cynicism resembles the best of the old Warner Bros Depression dramas; but in the distended playout of the fighter's tragic private life via involvement with a white woman, the picture sags.

In its telling of the quasi-fictionalized public life of famed black heavyweight champ, circa 1910, Jack Johnson, the film’s pacing and gritty cynicism resembles the best of the old Warner Bros Depression dramas; but in the distended playout of the fighter’s tragic private life via involvement with a white woman, the picture sags.

However, a superior cast, headed by James Earl Jones encoring in his stage role, a colorful and earthy script, plus outstanding production, render film quite palatable.

Jones’ re-creation of his stage role is an eye-riveting experience. The towering rages and unrestrained joys of which his character was capable are portrayed larger than life.

1970: Nominations: Best Actor (James Earl Jones), Actress (Jane Alexander)

The Great White Hope

Production

20th Century-Fox. Director Martin Ritt; Producer Lawrence Turman; Screenplay Howard Sackler; Camera Burnett Guffey; Editor William Reynolds; Music Lionel Newman; Art Director John DeCuir

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1970. Running time: 102 MIN.

With

James Earl Jones Jane Alexander Lou Gilbert Joel Fluellen Chester Morris Robert Webber

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