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Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight

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Review

This superior drama, about Muhammad Ali’s fight for the legal right to avoid the Vietnam War draft on religious grounds, focuses not on Ali but on the Supreme Court justices reviewing the case on appeal. So while Ali does appear in electrifying archive footage, the central cast is made up of silver-haired, gravel-voiced white men in oak-panelled rooms.

Danny Glover appears as the sole black justice, but as he recuses himself, the main focus is on Christopher Plummer’s Justice Harlan, who at the start hires an idealistic young clerk... It unfurls at a stately pace but the battle of wills among the justices is captivating and Stephen Frears’s direction masterful.

Summary

In 1967, world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali was stripped of his title and had his boxing licence suspended for his refusal to be drafted into the military. This drama sheds light on the behind-the-scenes exchanges that took place between the nine US Supreme Court justices charged with deciding the outcome of Ali's 1971 appeal. Stephen Frears directs, with Christopher Plummer, Danny Glover and Frank Langella starring.

Cast & Crew

John Harlan II Christopher Plummer
Thurgood Marshall Danny Glover
Warren E Burger Frank Langella
Kevin Connolly Benjamin Walker
Harry Blackmun Ed Begley Jr
William Brennan Jr Peter Gerety
Potter Stewart Barry Levinson
Byron `Whizzer'' White John Bedford Lloyd
Hugo Black Fritz Weaver
William O Douglas Harris Yulin
Director Stephen Frears
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Drama

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