Based on the book by Marshall Frady, this epic bio directed by the legendary John Frankenheimer, stars Academy® Award nominated actor Gary Sinise as the infamous politician and segregationist George Wallace. Many have port... more »rayed Wallace as a racist but Frankenheimer?s film suggests that it was his lust for power and status that made him bedfellows with racists and one of the most destructive and most hated American politicians of his time. Sinise ? who won an Emmy® Award for this performance ? brilliantly captures both the corruption and the belated search for redemption. Mare Winningham plays his first wife and Angelina Jolie ? in her first major role - his adoring second. Winningham also won an Emmy for her work and the film won the Golden Globe for Best Mini-Series (1997).« less
"It's hardly surprising that Ted Turner, a political animal if there ever was one, would turn his TNT productions into a vehicle for politically themed movies. This film, along with "Kingfish" and "Nixon and Kissinger" is the kind of product Turner no doubt loves to sponsor. Those of us who are closet political junkies ourselves, but who may not have the time or inclination to read lengthy biographies of well-known politicos, can at least begin to satisfy our social consciousness jones with these usually worthy efforts._George Wallace_ is certainly that--a worthy effort. It does not answer every question I've ever had about the man, but it does provide us with a portrait of a very complex, power-hungry individual, one who sacrificed principal for power and who became a symbol of a kind of racism that he did not really fully embrace. At least as seen by scriptwriter Marshall Frady (on whose book this film is based), Wallace had no particular ax to grind with the black community and was primarily a populist who initially sought the support of all the "folks". One gubernatorial defeat, however, was all it took to convince him that despite his reservations about extremists like the Klan, he would have to play the race card in order to win the governorship of Alabama.And thereby hangs the tale--or would have if he had not been shot at a political rally in 1972. The film's take on Wallace is that this event and the intense personal suffering that ensued brought about his eventual personal and, to some extent, political redemption. This may well be so, but writer Frady and director John Frankenheimer do slip significantly in presenting this turn-about. Wallace's conversion in the film rings too many false notes. I don't know if Wallace ever spontaneously dropped in on a black Baptist church, for instance, but if he did, it is all the more incumbent on the filmmakers not to portray the event too hamfistedly. Only Gary Sinise's nuanced performance keeps that scene from becoming an embarrassment. All too often Frankenheimer and Frady seem to be going for the kind of cinematic shorthand found in politically themed films. Conversations become near tracts or simply clunky ways of advancing the political story.Still there's no denying Frankenheimer's ability to get a tough story across. And the actors are generally first-rate.(Only Joe Don Baker as Wallace's populist mentor winds up going over the top). On the distaff side, Mare Winningham(a subdued and graceful steel magnolia--the kind of role Lee Remick once specialized in) and a fresh on the scene Angelina Jolie give remarkable performances. Clarence Williams III is solid as the (fictional) stoic black trusty who serves the Wallace household for decades. And, of course, a good ol' boy milieu as presented here always presents juicy roles for character actors. _Wallace_ is full of familiar faces, actors you've seen dozens of times before but whose names you'll struggle to place. They seem to be having a grand old time putting on the accents and affecting the mannerisms of the South.Still it's ultimately Gary Sinise's movie. His '97 Emmy was richly deserved. He is simply fascinating to watch here. It's one of those cinematic performances where you're first reaction is "why did they ever cast him...there's no resemblance whatsoever..." And in within minutes you forget all that and become so caught up in the performance that you can't imagine anyone else playing the part."
George Wallace: from liberal to racist to redemption
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The fighting little judge from Alabama was known as the most liberal judge in Alabama and probably in the South. But one gubernational defeat makes him turn to racism in order to capture the governorship.Gary Sinise turns in an incredible performance as the governor, he has become one of my favorite actors ever since his equally brilliant performance in "Truman".I like the way that this movie doesn't judge Wallace as good or bad, it leaves that to the viewer. In one scene you can see Wallace commenting on the beating of Civil Rights activists at the Edmund Pettus Bridge saying "This is a victory for US! We turned them back" and you actually think that Sinise as Wallace believes what he's saying.The movie presents some historical footage here and there, you can see president Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King's famous "how long?" speech.It does have a number of flaws though, I'd have liked to see more about election 1968, the way Nixon tried to prevent Wallace from becoming governor in 1970 by sponsoring Wallace's opponent, the infamous General Curtis Lemay pressconference. And the fictional character Archie isn't quite pulled off by the director, it strikes me as an anomaly in the movie.Also it shows Wallace meeting Cornelia, his future second wife at governor Folsom's inaugural in 1955, this would have made Cornelia about 23 years old in 1972 when in fact she was 31. The reason for that is that George and Lurleen met Cornelia at Folsom's FIRST inaugural in 1947 and not 1955The most moving scene is where Wallace is wheeled into the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church (Dr. King's former church) where he, in front of a stunned black congegation apologizes for his role in black suffering. The authenticity of this scene I found questionable until I read about it in Stephan Lesher's book "George Wallace American populist".But in the end George Wallace the movie is a masterpiece capturing the sentiments of the 50's, 60's and 70's. The late governor's children are said to have been content with the portrayal."
Powerful And Well-Acted.
Mr. Fellini | El Paso, Texas United States | 04/27/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
""George Wallace" is one of the great biographical TV movies. It's superior to Gary Sinise's previous biographical performance as Harry Truman in HBO's "Truman." Here he gives a performance of raw energy and impact. And no wonder, this was directed by one of the masters of filmmaking, John Frankenheimer. "George Wallace" is a powerful film, a study of a man who once burned with hate and then found redemption after suffering a terrible tragedy. The movie is intelligent, intriguing, moving and hard to forget. It not only looks at Wallace, but also at the era in which he lived. But the best effect of the movie comes near the end with the redemption of Wallace. It's incredible to see him first as a racist burning with hate, stepping in front of a university to prevent blacks from entering, and then being wheeled into a black church to ask for forgiveness. "George Wallace" is a study of power, hate and redemption. Everything is recreated brilliantly and we feel like we are in the era where the film takes place. There is pure style and intelligence here. Frankenheimer brilliantly directs a brilliant script. "George Wallace" is almost on par with Oliver Stone's "Nixon." This is great filmmaking, big screen or small."
Stacey Carr | Meridian, MS USA | 02/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I may have to edit the opening scene some for my high school audience, but they will certainly be watching this movie. It was wonderfully made. I loved the mix of original pictures and movies intertwined with the story plot. I would highly recommend this for any Alabama history buff or for Gary Sinise fan. My mom even sat and watched this with me."
"While I agree that this film may not be totally accurate in an empirical historical sense it does intensely and heatedly resurrect the deep and heartfelt emotional reactions of hate and violence that so dominated the era of Wallace's and his wife's stint at the helm of Alabama. How well I remember seeing the TV clips shown in the movie in my own living room and the feelings of intense dislike for the man called George Wallace. The movie also puts a human face on Wallace that shows the depth to which the man fell in his persuit of political power. I think the imaginary character of Archie served the purpose of helping the viewer to understand, at least in a limited way, the pain that was visited on the black people during this era. Certainly it is easy to see why Gary Sinise won an Emmy for his powerful and intense portrayal of this much despised man."