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Marshall is based on the incredible true story of future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and one of the landmark cases of his life. It follows the young lawyer (Chadwick Boseman) to conservative Connecticut to defend a black chauffeur (Sterling K. Brown) charged with sexual assault and attempted murder of his white socialite employer (Kate Hudson). Muzzled by a segregationist court, Marshall partners with a courageous young Jewish lawyer (Josh Gad) and together they mount the defense in an environment of racism and anti-Semitism.
- Aspect Ratio : 2:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : s_medPG13 PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
- Product Dimensions : 7.5 x 5.3 x 0.55 inches; 3.2 Ounces
- Director : Reginald Hudlin
- Media Format : Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
- Run time : 1 hour and 59 minutes
- Release date : January 9, 2018
- Actors : Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Dan Stevens, Sterling K. Brown, Chadwick Boseman
- Subtitles: : Spanish
- Producers : Paula Wagner, Jonathan Sanger, Reginald Hudlin
- Language : English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
- Studio : Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
- ASIN : B076CVHLJ1
- Writers : Michael Koskoff, Jacob Koskoff
- Country of Origin : USA
- Number of discs : 1
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The director has an easy job. The facts of the case are imminently interesting and of course provocative. Unfortunately black on white crime has always been big news. And of course courtroom drama gets the attention of the viewer. Additionally the acting is first rate, particularly that of Chadwick Boseman and Josh Gad. The performers with smaller roles are just as good. I particularly liked the actress (whose name I didn’t get) who played the jury forewoman with her lilting Southern accent. Furthermore, there are a couple of surprises in the plot. You of course are constantly reminded, as you are engrossed in the film, that the facts of this case are real. The film also gets the clothing, autos, housing, etc., right for the period of the early 1940’s. There are also interesting asides from the criminal trial: Mr. Marshall's time with his wife as well as the time he has to spend away from her, and a fascinating scene where he is in a club with the poet Langston Hughes when the writer Zora Neale Hurston pops in on them. (Marshall thought Hughes was wasting his life writing poetry.)
The film made me both angry and sad but my eyes burned a couple of times too. As the movie was ending, a sentence was scrolled across the bottom of the screen saying that because of his work in this trial, that Sam Friedman dedicated the rest of his legal career to civil rights law. That put chills on my spine.
A very good movie.
When it comes telling the tale of a black man being defended in court for false accusations of raping a white woman, To Kill a Mockingbird looms large in the American cultural conscious. To Kill a Mockingbird is fictional, the State of Connecticut V. Joseph Spell is not. But based on this film, there is no way that the producers of Marshall were ever up to the task of presenting this episode of Marshall’s life with anywhere near the appropriate gravitas, and so in making this trial the center of the film, the producers deny Marshall the respect he is due.
Marshall, the film, is really nothing more than an interesting but standard courtroom drama, and not a gripping one at that.
With all due respect to the sympathetic persons who lived this trial, this film is really an insult as it would have best served Marshall’s memory to instead focus on Brown Vs. Board of Education.
Or better yet, if the filmmakers had produced a flashback style story that jumps back and forth from Marshall’s nomination and confirmation to the Supreme Court to his previous accomplishments, they could have given a much better impression of the man and delivered a natural and effortless commentary to current events. You might dismiss this suggestion as a cliché, but at least it’d be a more gripping cliché than this film.
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That all said, is it worth tracking down? The answer is a big YES!
The film was directed by American film maker, Reginald Hudlin, and is one of a group of fine films made in the last year or so, that look seriously at the achievements of African-Americans, and bring African-American actors front and centre on the screen: ‘Hidden Figures’(2016); ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Green Book’(2018); ’Harriet’(2019). Here, ‘Marshall’ gives us a view of Thurgood Marshall. From 1967 until his death in 1991, Marshall served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and was thus the first African-American to sit on the American Supreme Court. A Civil Rights lawyer and tireless defender of people of colour across the United States, he was also the first black US Solicitor General, under President Johnson.
Instead of presenting a ‘life of…’ biography, Hudlin and his screenwriters Michael and Jacob Koskoff, choose to focus on one case fought by Marshall, in his days on the national staff of the 'National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People' (NAACP), where he founded and led their Legal Defence Fund. The choice of case, his part in ‘State of Connecticut v. Joseph Spell’ (1940), is no coincidence. The case involved the trial of black Chauffeur Joseph Spell for the rape and assault of his wealthy white employer, Eleanor Strubing. The Strubings lived in Greenwich, Connecticut, and the trial took place in the state’s Superior Court in Bridgeport.
The late Michael Koskoff was not a career screenwriter, but senior partner in Bridgeport law firm ‘Koskoff, Koskoff and Bieder’; however, his son Jacob is in films. Michael, descended from an artistic family, had wanted to be an actor, but instead became a prominent Connecticut Civil Right lawyer. However, he considered ‘Marshall’ his finest success.
With Buffalo, NY, standing in for Bridgeport, ‘Marshall’ is a handsome film, that conjures nicely the atmosphere of (just) pre-War America. There is a tangible air of claustrophobia and seething prejudice, all the more shocking because this is not Dixie but New England, and anti-Semitism is equally overt. The script is clear, often wryly humorous, and the ‘Who Dunnit’ aspects are nicely dealt with. The script does not EXACTLY mirror the case, but is REASONABLY close.
If I have one regret, it is that Marshall was involved in many bigger, meatier, vastly more significant cases, whilst this film is very narrow in focus. Nevertheless, it gives us a tantalising glimpse of a truly great man, in his prime. Thus, 4½ Stars.