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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

Covert Becker: You must be feeling pleased with yourself. You crossed the line, Connolly. Ask anybody.
See more »

Soundtracks

We Came in Chains
by Oscar Brown, Jr.
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User Reviews

 
Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight
30 November 2019 | by Prismark10See all my reviews

A worthy and earnest look at the Supreme Court decision on whether Ali's reasons in avoiding the draft were legally sound because of his religious beliefs.

The court did not want to create a precedent where everyone could claim to be a conscientious objector by claiming to be an islamic minister.

Director Stephen Frears wisely opts for archive footage of Ali to be used as the Supreme Court decides on the issue.

Set in the early 1970s, it is a time of great change in America. The judges in this drama talk about the thorny issue of abortion in Roe v Wade which is due to come up. They have to view pornography as that is another matter they need to ponder on.

Frank Langella plays Chief Justice Burger. A conservative appointee and a puppet of the Nixon presidency. They may be experienced lawyers but these people are political appointees. The judge who vacillates is Justice Harlan (Christopher Plummer) another conservative but more wily and nuanced. He senses that the times are changing and the Supreme Court might be in danger of being out of step.

The drama is framed by Frears through one of Harlan's clerks. Kevin Connolly (Benjamin Walker) who finds a precedent and brings it to Harlan's attention. Connolly is a plucky outsider in the Supreme Court where the other clerks are from top universities and do not want to make waves.

The surprise was Thurgood Marshall (Danny Glover) the Supreme Court's first black judge. He was against Ali because he viewed him as a segregationist.

It was a good drama but at times it felt flat footed. You sense why this was suited as a made for cable television production rather than as a cinema release. The fictional character of Connolly was just too determined like a good boy scout who believed in Ali's case. It was like those legal dramas, where the one person believes the accused is innocent and will bang heads to get others to their way of thinking.


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