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The Great White Hope

PG-13 Released Oct 16, 1970 1h 43m Drama List
43% Tomatometer 7 Reviews 67% Audience Score 500+ Ratings
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. Read More Read Less

Critics Reviews

View All (7) Critics Reviews
Variety Staff Variety 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. Jan 14, 2008 Full Review Vincent Canby New York Times One of those liberal, well-meaning, fervently uncontroversial works that pretend to tackle contemporary problems by finding analogies at a safe remove in history. May 9, 2005 Full Review Dave Kehr Chicago Reader Provocative but never challenging. Jan 1, 2000 Full Review Tom Hutchinson Radio Times This heavyweight boxing fable... has a knockout performance by James Earl Jones but it only just gets by on points as drama and is undermined by an early form of political correctness. Rated: 3/5 Aug 18, 2015 Full Review Emanuel Levy EmanuelLevy.Com The movie is too theatrical and every idea is spelled out for the audience, but the acting of James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander (both Oscar-nominated) is good. Rated: C+ Oct 1, 2009 Full Review Michael W. Phillips, Jr. Goatdog's Movies Rated: 2/5 Feb 29, 2008 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

View All (54) audience reviews
steve d James Earl Jones gives his best performance. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 03/30/23 Full Review Audience Member Great performance from James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander. But thats it. I am surprised at how choppy and TV sized Ritt’s direction and narrative is. Looks and feels episodic, overlit, and small. Alexander’s part is essentially a supporting one in HIS story, but Oscar often has to nominate female supporting parts as leads. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 05/11/19 Full Review Audience Member Complex and outstanding! Rated 5 out of 5 stars 01/21/23 Full Review Audience Member The best sports movie ever made! With the best movie character ever portrayed: James Earl Jones as Jack Jefferson! Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/26/23 Full Review Audience Member This is an unusual film - one which is nearly impossible to properly understand and place in context. On the surface this is a historical tale of racial differences in a very public forum. But this was also presented in a time of great upheaval in human rights. Then there's a third level of a present day viewer's interpretation. How do we relate to the issues of race, love, moral dignity, and living with the weight of public perception? Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 01/25/23 Full Review kevin w 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. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 03/30/23 Full Review Read all reviews
The Great White Hope

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Cast & Crew

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Movie Info

Synopsis 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.
Director
Martin Ritt
Producer
Lawrence Turman
Screenwriter
Howard Sackler
Distributor
20th Century Fox
Production Co
Lawrence Turman Inc.
Rating
PG-13
Genre
Drama
Original Language
English
Release Date (Theaters)
Oct 16, 1970, Original
Release Date (DVD)
Jan 11, 2005
Runtime
1h 43m