Separate But Equal
Separate But Equal
| 07 April 1991 (USA)
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A dramatization of the American court case that destroyed the legal validity of racial segregation. One of the most pivotal moments in 20th century American history is bracingly dramatized in Separate but Equal. In telling the detailed story of the Supreme Court's 1953 decision to abolish racial segregation in schools, this superb 1991 TV movie covers a broad spectrum of issues, never taking its "eyes off the prize" while its first-rate cast conveys the importance of the Supreme Court's ultimately unanimous decision.


Pretty good movie overall. First half was nothing special but it got better as it went along.

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Good films always raise compelling questions, whether the format is fiction or documentary fact.

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I think this is a new genre that they're all sort of working their way through it and haven't got all the kinks worked out yet but it's a genre that works for me.

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Casey Duggan

It’s sentimental, ridiculously long and only occasionally funny

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When making a film about the historic Brown vs. Board of Education case, who would be the obvious choice to play civil rights icon Thurgood Marshall? If you answered Sidney Poitier, you agreed with the casting director of Separate But Equal. The movie chronicles the journey in the 1950s for racial equality and desegregation in the school system.In his final film, Burt Lancaster plays John W. Davis. Richard Kiley plays Chief Justice Earl Warren, and he—and Sidney—were nominated for Golden Globes that year. Joining the supporting cast are Cleavon Little, Gloria Foster, John McMartin, Graham Beckel, and Lynne Thigpen. George Stevens Jr.'s script is something to be admired, since he tried very hard to make it historically accurate and interesting to television audiences. It's not the best American history movie ever made, and it's certainly not a good choice if you've never seen a Sidney Poitier or Burt Lancaster movie, but if you know your history and want to watch a three-hour tribute to this slice of Americana, go ahead and rent it. It does feel pretty cheesy at times, and Sidney Poitier tends to overact more often than not in his scenes, but overall, it's a great movie for high school students to watch as an addendum to their curriculum.

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Sidney Poitier was the perfect actor to play Thurgood Marshall as an attorney for the NAACP in the fifties. Burt Lancaster gives a final performance but one of his best as legal legend, John W. Davis. The supporting cast is excellent. This mini series is about the legal process that can be long, tedious, and time consuming for years. This case starts off when a small town African American minister, teacher, and principal seeks a school bus for his students. When the superintendent blows off the request, the minister goes forward and seeks counsel. The minister and the plaintiffs experience hostility, threats, violence, and more hatred. This film has to be shown in schools to understand American history, a shameful chapter in history.

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This movie was really good, but it was really draggy and it could have been finished in one video instead of two. There were a lot of unnecessary talking and scenes, but it was still a very educational movie. 2½ stars out of 5.

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The usually restrained Sidney Poitier really hams it up during his courtroom speeches (was Thurgood Marshall that dynamic?) but is excellent anyway. And the little seen Gloria Foster, superb as the Oracle in "The Matrix", is wonderful as Marshall's ailing wife. Educational, semi-documentary, but good stuff.

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