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"GHOSTS OF MISSISSIPPI"
(1996) (Alec Baldwin, James Woods) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Minor Mild Heavy Mild Moderate
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate None Mild None Moderate
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Minor Mild Moderate Moderate Moderate


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: The dramatization of the murder of civil rights activist Medgar Evers and the efforts to bring the murderer back to trial some thirty years later.
PLOT:
In June 1963, Byron De La Beckwith (JAMES WOODS), a vehement racist, assassinated civil rights activist Medgar Evers. Acquitted due to two mistrials, Beckwith has been a free man for thirty years. However, in 1989 Medgar's widow, Myrlie (WHOOPI GOLDBERG) brings up the case again, and this time it falls into the lap of Mississippi assistant district attorney Bobby DeLaughter (ALEC BALDWIN). His boss, Ed Peters (CRAIG T. NELSON) isn't crazy about him taking the case, due to its notoriety and because most of the original evidence is missing and most of the witnesses are now dead. As Bobby encounters crank calls, death threats and his wife leaving him, he pushes even harder to build a case to retry Beckwith for the murder.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of the actors or are interested in this case, it's doubtful.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For a strong scene of violence and for racial dialogue.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • ALEC BALDWIN plays an attorney who risks his reputation to bring a man to trial. He lets his marriage dissolve away, but he and his wife appear to be jointly at fault.
  • WHOOPI GOLDBERG plays the wife of the slain activist who won't give up her fight to see that the murderer is brought to justice.
  • JAMES WOODS plays an openly racist man who not only killed Evers, but also lied about it when not boasting of the act.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
    Based on the true accounts of the murder of Evers and the continuing efforts to bring Beckwith to trial, the film surprisingly lacks any compelling drama. While one has to (and should) follow the actual events when dramatizing a true story, this one is sorely in need of some dramatic license to allow for more effective storytelling. The performances are good, and Woods is believable as the hate-filled murderer, but the plot offers few surprises and the final courtroom scenes are lacking in suspense or originality. Again, it's hard to fault a movie if it keeps to the actual events (of which you'll need to determine if they did), but sometimes the truth can be rather ho-hum. Compared with last summer's other racially targeted courtroom drama, "A Time to Kill," this film comes off as a stiff, made for TV type production. Early family scenes don't entirely play out well, and many other scenes feel stilted and forced. Baldwin isn't given enough to work with, and the "problems" he faces (threats to him and the family, witnesses who won't talk) have been seen in every movie of this sort for some time. Without an active antagonist (Woods isn't in the film that much), Baldwin's character must deal with frustrations that just don't make compelling drama. We've liked other films that Reiner has directed, but this one strikes us as flat and rather non- interesting. We give it just a 5 out of 10.
    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The biggest issues of concern in this film are the rampant racism exercised by certain characters, one act of violence (an assassination) and a mild amount of profanity (the worst being 10+ "s" words with one being uttered by Bobby's young son after hearing his father say it). Some kids might worry that their father will be killed like Medgar, and Bobby and his wife break up and she leaves him with the kids. While it's doubtful most kids will want to see this, we suggest you read through the category listings to see if this film is appropriate for your family.

    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Some people are seen drinking beer at a drive-in restaurant in 1963.
  • Bobby and his dad drink beer at a barbeque.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Evers' shirt is soaked in blood and some runs from his mouth after he's been shot.
  • Bobby's son has a bloody nose after getting into a fight with another boy and has some blood on his shirt.
  • Evers' exhumed body is seen in a casket, but other than being a dead body, it isn't very decomposed.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Obviously Beckwith and others have both as they display very racist behavior toward blacks and verbally toward Jews.
  • Beckwith also lies about shooting Evers to the police and during his trial, but later boasts about it to others.
  • Bobby's father uses the word "nigger" while a black waiter stands beside him and Bobby's wife uses the term "Jew lawyer" and is upset that she'll be embarrassed in front of friends and family due to the case.
  • It's noted that the police reporting on the 1963 murder stated that the killer of Evers should have been given a medal for his action.
  • It's discovered that judges and others in the past had taken trial evidence home as souvenirs.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Beckwith is seen waiting for Evers, sniper rifle in hand. We watch as Evers comes home and Beckwith readies himself to take his shot.
  • Bobby and his family rush from their home after receiving a bomb threat.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Rifle: Used by Beckwith to assassinate Evers and later seen several times in court.
  • Rifle: Cleaned by a former witness while Bobby talks with him.
  • Rifles: Seen in Bobby's father-in-law's study.
  • Handgun: Given to Bobby by a cop to protect himself (but never seen again).
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Racist beliefs and behavior (such as using the term "nigger").
  • Bobby finds his truck windshield smashed and the word "traitor" spray painted on its side.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • There's just a mild amount of suspenseful music in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • 11 "s" words, 13 hells, 8 damns, 5 S.O.B.'s, 1 "ass" word, and 4 uses of "God damn," and 2 uses of "My God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Beckwith's attorney states that a witness' husband had an incestuous relationship with the woman's child.
  • SMOKING
  • In newsreel montage footage in the opening credits a man is seen smoking.
  • Some people are seen smoking at a drive-in restaurant in 1963.
  • A cop smokes a cigarette and another is seen getting ready to light one up.
  • Beckwith is occasionally seen with a cigar.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Myrlie and her children must deal with finding their dying father on the front steps and then with his killer walking free for three decades.
  • Bobby's marriage falls apart (this case is the final straw) and she finally leaves him with the children.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Racism and the civil rights movement.
  • The historical accuracy of the film.
  • VIOLENCE
  • In newsreel montage footage in the opening credits a white man is seen kicking a black man on the ground; a dog is seen biting a black man on the arm; riot police are seen beating rioters; and there's a quick shot of a man being hanged.
  • Beckwith shoots Evers in the back with a rifle, fatally wounding him.
  • Bobby finds the windshield of his truck smashed and graffiti spray painted on the side.
  • Bobby's son and another boy fight and his son has a bloody nose.
  • Myrlie says that soon after her husband's murder she inquired about hiring someone to kill Beckwith.



  • Reviewed December 29, 1996

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