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“Heavens Fall” is a gripping true story that begins in the spring of 1931 when nine black men are hauled off an Alabama freight train and accused of raping two young white women. The men are quickly tried and sentenced to the electric chair. News of their conviction spreads, forcing an appeal to the United States Supreme Court. New York attorney Sam Leibowitz (Timothy Hutton) travels to Alabama in 1933 during segregation to defend the nine young men - setting in motion an epic legal battle that ultimately changed the course of American jurisprudence.
Winner of the “Best Feature Film” Award at the Hollywood Film Festival and an official selection of SXSW, “Heavens Fall” features knockout performances from Timothy Hutton (“Kinsey”), Anthony Mackie (“The Hurt Locker”), Leelee Sobieski (“Eyes Wide Shut”) and David Strathairn (“Good Night, and Good Luck”).
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Top Customer Reviews
Timothy Hutton gives a riveting performance as Samuel Leibowitz - Hutton's best since his equally fine portrayal of Archie Goodwin in "Nero Wolfe." Bill Sage as prosecuting attorney Thomas Knight, Jr. and David Strathairn as Judge Horton are also excellent in their roles. Bill Smitrovich as co-defense attorney, Maury Chaykin in a cameo role, Francie Swift as Leibowitz' wife, Belle, and James Tolkan as Thomas Knight, Sr. (four other great "Nero Wolfe" actors) were exceptional, too, as was B.J. Britt, as Haywood Patterson, in his film debut. LeeLee Sobieski and Azura Skye as Victoria Price and Ruby Bates were marvelous in their extremely difficult roles.
The score by Tony Llorens was haunting - a perfect accompaniment for the plot and the beautiful cinematography by Paul Sanchez.
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I must say I had to refrain myself from running to my computer to research the case because I wanted my experience of the film to be fresh. I'm glad I did that because it added to the tension as I wasn't sure what the outcome would be. The director did a good job of setting the time and the place. The historical detail seemed perfect and the New York attorney reminded me a lot of photos of my own father in the early 1930s. For example, all the men wore hats and shirts and ties.
Most of the film took place at the trial but there was one recurring scene at a diner which showed a young black girl waiting patiently at the back door for an order of food while she is being ignored by the waitress.
The Southerners are not all depicted as bad. In this film the prosecuting attorney and the New York lawyer are staying at the same hotel. The southern lawyer is on track to someday become Governor. He is intrigued by the New Yorker and they sort of bond. But then the trial begins and its no holds barred.
There is also a young black newspaper reporter from Chicago who has come down South for the trial.Read more ›
One boy was being transported and got into a scuffle in the car and a deputy shot him in the head. The Communist Party started sending them food and so on. The guards really hated them. At one point they were put in a private prison which had been declared unfit for prisoners because of the rats, bedbugs, etc. No air conditioning in the South at this time, obviously. They also were in a room right next to the death chamber. It would be as if you had a bathroom next to your bedroom and occasionally the guards took someone from your (large) bedroom and fried him in the electric chair in the bathroom, and probably you had heard his story and maybe you thought he was also innocent.
Anyway, Judge Horton's not doing the right thing and dismissing the case is probably glossed over because the movie makers wanted the audience to have a hero. The case ended Judge Horton's career and he was extremely erudite (you can read his written opinion of the case, accompanying his judgment to set aside, in books about the Scottsboro Nine and no doubt online somewhere), so it was a waste. He lived there for 30 more years and he should have been a judge all that time.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This movie will keep you on the edge of your seat. The ending is quite unexpected. Timothy Hutton is wonderful and you will find yourself detesting LeeLee Sobieski's character... Read morePublished 8 days ago by K
Tuft subject matter. The subject compromised the enjoyment of the movie which was done well. It is hard to except such cruelty when ever it occurred when it was obviously not... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Mabelle Butts
The movie itself is excellent. My complaint lies with the formatting on the disc. Specifically, subtitles.
I am an English speaker, but I am also hard of hearing. Read more
Good re-telling of a monumental moment in American History.Published 17 months ago by William Johnson
Great cast, One of Timothy Hutton's best fims. Story line of a racially charged event played well. Thumbs up overall.Published on January 9, 2013 by Old Hoosier
Saw part of the movie on TV so I had to order it and I knew Amazon would have it. I had it in my hands shortly after that. Thank you, we both love it.Published on July 8, 2011 by wenmar
Although the cinematic quality of this DVD was excellent, we had to return it to Amazon, as the only language offered in the subtitles menu was Spanish. Read morePublished on March 13, 2011 by Theater Director