- Rated: PG-13
- Run Time: 1 hours, 43 minutes
- Video: Color
- Released: January 11, 2005
- Originally Released: 1970
- Label: 20th Century Fox
- Encoding: Region 1 (USA & Canada)
- Packaging: Keep Case
- Aspect Ratio: Full Frame - 1.33
Performers, Cast and Crew:
Based on Howard Sackler's Broadway play about the life of flamboyant boxing great, Jack Johnson, THE GREAT WHITE HOPE stars James Earl Jones as Jack Jefferson, a fictional counterpart for Johnson. Jefferson, the first-ever African-American heavyweight champion, fights racism, hostile fans, and aggressive promoters to become the top fighter in the world in the early 1900s. However, once at the top, Jefferson finds that he has provoked the anger of the government, labor unions, and the boxing racket itself because of his race, talent, and his romance with a white woman, Eleanor (Jane Alexander). Under investigation by the government, Jefferson travels the world fighting for a promoter whose main focus is to find a white fighter who can match Jefferson's prowess in the ring--that is the definition of "the great white hope" of the title. Bolstered by Mr. Jones's powerful performance, THE GREAT WHITE HOPE is a searing examination of prejudice in 20th century America. The film doesn't back down from some of the more complex and disturbing issues in the play, namely the psychological reasons for the white establishment's fear of Johnson. Revealing and entertaining, Ritt's film takes an unflinching look at racial politics in America.
The first black heavyweight boxing champion of the world is a man who bows before no man, and fights against adversaries who plot to ruin his career.
- Jack Johnson became the heavyweight champion of the world in 1908. He defeated the real "Great White Hope," Jim Jeffries, on July 4, 1910. Johnson was rumored to have thrown the only fight that he lost, which, as in the film, took place in Cuba.