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Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight (2013)

Not Rated | | Biography, Drama | 5 October 2013 (USA)
Ali's biggest match, his fight with the US government. A film about the politics and hubris surrounding the Vietnam War and the revenge exacted on America's greatest sportsman of the 20th century because he refused to fight in that war.

Director:

Stephen Frears

Writers:

Howard L. Bingham (based on the book by), Shawn Slovo | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Nominated for 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Christopher Plummer ... John Harlan
Frank Langella ... Warren Burger
Ed Begley Jr. ... Harry Blackmun
Peter Gerety ... William Brennan
Barry Levinson ... Potter Stewart
John Bedford Lloyd ... Byron 'Whizzer' White
Fritz Weaver ... Hugo Black
Harris Yulin ... William O. Douglas
Danny Glover ... Thurgood Marshall
Benjamin Walker ... Kevin Connolly
Pablo Schreiber ... Covert Becker
Ben Steinfeld Ben Steinfeld ... Sam Edelstein
Dana Ivey ... Mrs. Paige
Kathleen Chalfant ... Ethel Harlan
Lisa Joyce ... Donna Connolly
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Storyline

In 1964, world champion boxer Muhammad Ali requested exemption from the military draft based on his religious beliefs. His request was denied and when he refused induction into the army, he was convicted and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. His case eventually works itself up the Supreme Court. In their first conference after the case is presented, the justices decide by majority vote to uphold the conviction and Justice John Harlan is tasked with preparing the majority opinion. He assigns one of his clerks, Kevin Connolly, to prepare a first draft but try as he might he believes that decision his wrong. His draft argues for overturning the conviction and Harlan agrees with him. The justice must now find a way to convince his colleagues. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Some fights are bigger than the ring.

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 October 2013 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This is the second time Benjamin Walker has portrayed a southern lawyer on film. He portrayed lawyer Abraham Lincoln in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012). See more »

Quotes

Kevin Connolly: Is he sick? I know he has back problems but is it something more serious than that?
Mrs. Paige: He has cancer, Mr. Connolly. He's a very private man. We would ask you to respect that.
Kevin Connolly: Yes, ma'am.
See more »

Soundtracks

We Came in Chains
by Oscar Brown, Jr.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Supreme Court rules for Ali
8 October 2013 | by barryrdSee all my reviews

This movie took me back to those years, now long gone, when the passions of the 1960's and early 70's were unleashed. Change was in the air and the forces of the status quo were pushing back. This movie is about the Supreme Court, liberal and some conservative, who divide over a pivotal issue: Muhammed Ali's right to refuse military service in the Vietnam War, when conscription was still the rule. I remember the Supreme Court becoming a lightning rod during the presidency of Richard Nixon, when two of his appointees were repudiated by the Senate. I also remember the lengthy hiatus of Muhammed Ali from the ring. This movie brings it all back and is enlivened by the newsreels of Muhammed Ali, a formidable figure in and out of the ring; President Richard Nixon, one of the most controversial presidents of all time; and the youth who were standing up to the established order. In the movie, the fight was on a court divided between the left and right, with a Chief Justice who wanted to avoid a difficult decision. The court appears to be made up of rather elderly men who are not inclined to take risks. I don't know how historically accurate this image is but the Supreme Court is shown as an old boys club, not a group of serious jurists who form a third branch of government. It was made up of all men with only one black, Thurgood Marshall. I found it hard to watch the depiction of Judge Hugo Black as someone seemingly in the throes of senility. I believe in his day he was a great Justice. Frank Langella plays a rather staid, unimaginative and out of touch Chief Justice named Warren Burger, the man who succeeded the great Earl Warren. Christopher Plummer plays Justice John Harlan, a southern conservative who has a passion for the law. He hires a young man who advises him to rule in favour of Ali and his conscientious objector status, following the precedent set in 1955 for the Jehovah's Witnesses. The movie makes the liberal wing look far more sympathetic than their conservative counterparts, who sense no need for the court to rule on the case. But the Justices were capable of following a leader like John Harlan, who showed leadership by ruling on the basis of legal precedent and breaking rank with his boss who wanted a Court that would follow his orders. British Director Stephen Frears shows the Supreme Court as a branch of government that was able to move out of its own comfort zone, deciding in accord with its conscience and legal precedent.


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