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GEORGE WALLACE (TV MOVIE) (director: John Frankenheimer; teleplay: Paul Monash/Marshall Frady/book by Marshall Frady; cinematographer: Alan Caso; editor: Tony Giggs; music: Gary Chang; cast: Gary Sinise (George Wallace), Angelina Jolie (Cornelia Wallace), Mare Winningham (Lurleen Wallace), Clarence Williams III (Archie), Joe Don Baker (Big Jim Folsom), Terry Kinney (Billy Watson), William Sanderson (T.Y. Odum), Mark Rolston (Ricky Brickle ), Tracy Fraim (Gerald Wallace), Skip Sudduth (Al Lingo), Ron Perkins (Nicholas Katzenbach), Mark Valley (Bobby Kennedy); Runtime: 180; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: John Frankenheimer/Julian Krainin; Warner Home Video (TNT); 1997)
“A decent biopic on the controversial segregationist governor of Alabama.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

In this smart TV mini-series John Frankenheimer (“The Gypsy Moths”/”Black Sunday”/”The Manchurian Candidate”) helms a decent biopic on the controversial segregationist governor of Alabama, who in 1972 is running in the Democrat primaries for president. The Governor, a symbol of Southern racism, would run losing efforts for president four times. Writer Paul Monash bases it on the unflattering book by Marshall Frady, and fills the pic with accurate details and for dramatic effect adds his own conversational dialogue. The film wavers between 1955, Wallace’s (Gary Sinise) first-term as governor, to 1972, with flashbacks of key events during those times. Wallace’s extreme stance against the Civil Rights Movement resulted in a would-be assassin shooting and leaving him crippled while he was campaigning for president in 1972. Frankenheimer has good production values. Sinise gives a superb performance as Wallace. Clarence Williams III, as the black trustee house servant of Wallace, gives a chilling performance as the resentful lackey who thinks of killing his master. While supporting characters Mare Winningham, Joe Don Baker, Angelina Jolie, all give good performances. While in a wheelchair, Wallace begins to rethink his segregationist views and becomes more human. We never learn much about Wallace’s childhood and his personal thoughts, as instead we see how he handles political events that arise and seems to be a political opportunist more than anything else.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”