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The Great White Hope Photos

Movie Info

Jack Jefferson (James Earl Jones) is the boxing heavyweight champion of early 1910s America. But as a black man, he's not only fighting other boxers, but discrimination and prejudice as well. The boxing fans and press resent the idea of a black champion and are actively searching for a "great white hope" that can defeat him. But it's Jefferson's activities outside the ring, primarily involving the white Eleanor Bachman (Jane Alexander), that may prove to be his downfall.

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Critic Reviews for The Great White Hope

All Critics (7) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (3) | Rotten (4)

Audience Reviews for The Great White Hope

  • Sep 12, 2015
    I've been liking me some Marty Ritt films lately, an undiscovered gem for me, and though not quite up to his usual stuff this one'll do in a pinch. When it first came out lo those many, many years ago (We were so poor, we didn't even have rocks) it proved highly impactful to the rest of my life and certainly my worldview. Now though, many of the seams are plain to see, for instance how much of the stage play aspects of the thing remain intact. James Earl Jones doesn't really have much of a range to explore his character and the same is true for the underdeveloped but centrally decisive Jane Alexander character. And the point of the thing, the grinding racism of the most free nation on the earth and how it adversely affects the lives of individuals isn't given its full scope. Nonetheless the flavor of the idea is present and enough to engage. In a supposedly free country where an essential kernal of life is the denial of perpetuating an oppressive condition, this piece still speaks volumes.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Feb 14, 2014
    Howard Sackler's screenplay holds pretty closely to his stage play script, which I read shortly before watching this. The interracial relationship between Jack Jefferson (Jones), who represented real-life heavyweight champ Jack Johnson, and Eleanor (Alexander) is the most interesting feature of the story. Sure the period details provide a unique setting. The sports lingo of the early part of the twentieth century along with the racial slurs show a world that has rarely been presented on the screen. As Jack dodges the charges brought against him under the Mann Act by moving around internationally, the different cultures of the different countries are not so clearly represented, although the fact that the world was racist and not just America comes across well. The final boxing match scene in the play is all from the point of view of spectators outside the stadium. With the cinematic representation, we do get to see the two men slug it out. Though the makeup for this final fight scene is not very natural, James Earl Jones as Jack gives a performance throughout that shows both Jack's defiant energy and his defeated exhaustion.
    Byron B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 02, 2013
    Obama recently had the opportunity to pardon Jack Johnson for his "crimes". Here is the biopic of Johnson as realized by James Earl Jones. Jones brings out that larger than life personality of Johnson that upset white America to such a large degree. His story, like Ali's, was a challenge to society but without acceptance as Ali was to receive.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 17, 2012
    The actual history is quite distorted but both James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander give great performances.
    jay n Super Reviewer

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