Malcolm X


3h 19m 1992
Malcolm X

Brief Synopsis

Biographical drama on the life of the late Malcolm X, who was assassinated on February 21, 1965.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
1992
Distribution Company
WARNER BROS. PICTURES DISTRIBUTION (WBPD)
Location
Fishkill, New York, USA; New Jersey, USA; Soweto, South Africa; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New York City, New York, USA; Egypt; Mecca, Saudi Arabia

Technical Specs

Duration
3h 19m

Synopsis

Biographical drama on the life of the late Malcolm X, who was assassinated on February 21, 1965.

Cast

Mike Farley

Earl Whitted

Stephen James

Eileen Folson

Performer

K Smith

Neisha Folkes

Denzel Washington

Cecilia Hobbs Gardner

Performer

James Hynes

Performer

Lee Summers

Javon Jackson

Monique Harcum

Lynn Sterling

Bruce David Barth

Mark Gross

Cisco Drayton

Gregory Bargeman

Chuck Cooper

Elliot Rosoff

Performer

Laurie Ann Gibson

Martaleah Jackson

Latanya Richardson

Eric A Payne

Leland Gantt

Amelia Walker

Tim Hutchinson

Valentino Smith

Dion Smack

Joe Fitos

Reggie Pittman

Peter Boyle

Maurice Sneed

Chelsea Counts

Billy J Mitchell

Cheryl Burr

Danielle Lemelle

Rich Gordon

Terence Blanchard

Performer

Sharon Ferguson

Terry Sumter

Darnell Smith

Wendy E Taylor

Shirley Stoler

Mansoor Najeeullah

Douglas Purviance

Don Hewitt

Aaron Blackshear

John Griesemer

Eddie Shellman

Christopher Rubin

Karen Allen

Monique Cintron

Paula Bing

Performer

Ralph Cooper

Rudi Bascomb

Reggie Montgomery

Christian J Dacosta

Traci Robinson

Karen Michaels

Annie Corley

John Longo

Performer

George Lee Miles

C E Smith

Michael Davis

Performer

Zakee Howze

Jean-claude Lamarre

Tommy Hollis

Judd Jones

Frances Morgan

Jery Hewitt

El Tahara Ibrahim

Jerome Jamal Hardeman

Greg Poland

Al Freeman Jr.

Larry M. Cherry

Ira Little

Roger Guenveur Smith

Myra Bucky Segal

Performer

Preston Vismale

Yvette Brooks

Keith Randolph Smith

Sue Evans

Performer

Brendan Kelly

Diane Barere

Performer

Kiki Della Vecchia

Marc Phillips

Martin Donovan

Dawn Hampton

Bernard Marsh

Hazel Medina

Rogers Simon

Stewart J. Zully

Peter Dunn

Bill Goldberg

Gina Ellis

Colleen Cowan

Rodney Whitaker

Jonathan Peck

John Reidy

Randy Means

Eric Swirsly

Jay Charbonneau

Dyan Humes

Andy Duppin

David Reivers

Cliff Cudney

Dereque Whithurs

Leonard Parker

Gareth Williams

Richard Schiff

Belinda Whitney Barratt

Performer

Dion Graham

Alvin Mccall

Performer

Clark Gaton

Raye Dowell

Dale Stuckenbruck

Performer

Maxwell Sinovoi

Robert H Fowler

Phillip Gilmore

Lex Monson

James Macdonald

David Fludd

Reverend Al Sharpton

Lou Oddo

Performer

Albert Hall

Karen Duffy

Lonette Mckee

Warren Smith

Performer

Lizabeth Mackay

Wyatt Tee Walker

Oran Jones

Winterton Garvey

Performer

Louann Montesi

Performer

Eartha Robinson

Cytia Fontenette

Lennis Washington

Larissa Blitz

Performer

Nick Turturro

Michael C Mahon

Bahni Turpin

Jessica Givens

Terry Hodges

Anne Callahan

Performer

Natalie Clanton

Sharon Brooks

Anthony Dewitt

Michael Imperioli

Robinson Frank Adu

Lauren Padick

Dana Hubbard

Ali Abdul Wahbah

Rome Neal

Abdul Kakeem Hijrah

Barry Finclair

Performer

Rebekah Johnson

Performer

Stephen Hanan

Zaahir Muhammad

Scott Rosenstock

Lead Person

Bobby Seale

Tainesha Scott

Bruce Wang

Performer

Greta Martin

Armand Schultz

Gary L Catus

Shellye D Broughton

Larry Attile

Bill Anagnos

Sharmeek Martinez

Nick Muglia

Jauquette Greene

Andre Blair

Larry Mccoy

Marcus Naylor

Jack Mclaughlin

O. L. Duke

Lawrence James

John Festa

Ossie Davis

Simon Do-ley

Michelle Robinson

Addison Cook

David Patrick Kelly

Delphine T Mantz

Ian Quiles

Jasmine Smith

Richard Owens

Lenore Pemberton

Theara Ward

Joe Seneca

William Kunstler

Phyllis Yvonne Stickney

Janet Zarish

Scot Anthony Robinson

Kristan Rai Segure

Steve White

Sharon Washington

Sandra Park

Performer

Showman Uneke

Jasper Mcgruder

Crew

Jefri Aalmuhammed

Consultant

Yehyia Abbas

Assistant Camera Operator

Onsi Abou Seif

Art Director

Abdel Moheim Abu Zeid

Assistant Engineer

Daniel J Adkins

Wardrobe

Gary Aharoni

On-Set Dresser

Khalid Ahmad

Production Assistant

Robert Alberga

Driver

Michael Alden

Post-Production Supervisor

Anthony Jerome Alexander

Other

Stuart Allen

Other

Hussam Aly

Production Manager

Khalid Mohammed Aly

Production Assistant

Darryl Anderson

Other

Everett Anderson

Other

Jill E Anderson

Wardrobe

Vince J Anderson

Other

Denise Andres

Wardrobe

Robert M Andres

Key Grip

Henry Antonacchio

Other

Ina Archer

Other

Penny Arms

Other

Osman Armstrong

Other

Maryann V Arrien

Electrician

Ehab Atiya

Grip

Isaac Atkins

Driver

Ismail Abdel Aziz

Production Assistant

David J Babcock

Driver

Darrin Bailey

Other

Harold Baines

Stunts

Howard Baines

Stunts

Andrew Bainton

Stunts

Michel Baklouk

Other

Antony Baldasare

Props Assistant

Jeff Balsmeyer

Storyboard Artist

Randall Balsmeyer

Visual Effects Supervisor

Werner Bargsten

Props

White M Barry

Hair Stylist

Richard Barthelmy

Other

Count Basie

Song Performer

Count Basie

Song

Timothy Battle

Music

Thomas Beattie

Driver

Judy Becker

On-Set Dresser

Jerome Bell

Other

Shirley Belwood

On-Set Dresser

Leonard Bembry

Music

Daryle Bennett

Hair Stylist

David A Benninghoff

On-Set Dresser

Michael Lee Benson

On-Set Dresser

Saul Bernie

Song

Leonard Bernstein

Song

Martin Bernstein

Construction Coordinator

Mark Bero

Special Effects Assistant

George Berrios

Assistant Camera Operator

John H Berry

Best Boy

Linda Berry

Wardrobe

Donna Berwick

Assistant

Peter Betulia

Grip

Linda Blacken

Other

Virgil Blackwell

Other

Walter Blake

Other

Terence Blanchard

Original Music

Terence Blanchard

Music

Peter Blechman

Other

Timothy Blevins

Music

Jean Block

Hair Stylist

Garrett Boehling

Grip

Michael Anthony Bohm

Production

Joseph Bongiorno

Music

Clifford R Booker

Hair Stylist

Chan B Booth

Clearance Coordinator

Zelmer H Bothic Iii

Other

Dwayne Bouie

Other

Georges Boulanger

Song

David Boulton

Adr

Glen Bowen

Grip

Lynn Bowling

Wardrobe

Nancy Boytos

On-Set Dresser

Sharlene Bradley

Hair Stylist

Richard Brice

Other

Alfred Brown

Other

Barry Alexander Brown

Editor

Barry Alexander Brown

Second Unit Director

Blaine Brown

Electrician

Christopher Brown

Music

Erwin Brown

Grip

Johanne Brown

Art Department Coordinator

Rasheed Ali Brown

Production Assistant

Techu Brown

Other

Theodore A. Brown

Other

Lashan A Browning

Other

Joseph R Bruck

Electrician

Milton Buckner

Song

Pete Bucossi

Stunts

Russell Bullock

Production

Keith Bunting

Grip

Joseph Buonocore Jr.

Driver

Sam Burrell

Grip

Mia Burruss

Other

Mary Ann Butler

On-Set Dresser

W. J. Butler

On-Set Dresser

Calvin Byrd

Other

Jeff Byrd

Other

William Byrd

Music

Wilfred Caban

Effects Assistant

Vincent Callaghan

Makeup

Luis Camacho

Craft Service

Carol Campbell

Hair Stylist

Caryn E Campbell

Production Coordinator

Yave Canela

Other

Don Canfield

Motion Control

Guy Carawan

Song

Hoagy Carmichael

Song

Vanessa Carmichael

Other

Shari Carpenter

Continuity

Craig Carter

Hair Stylist

Ruth Carter

Costume Designer

Marietta Carter-narcisse

Makeup

Lawrence Casey

Scenic Artist

Linda C Castillo

Makeup

Dennis Lee Causey

On-Set Dresser

Fritz Celstin

Location Assistant

Joseph Cesarelli

Wardrobe

Scott Chambliss

Assistant Art Director

Kyung Won Chang

Assistant Art Director

Ray Charles

Song Performer

Reginald Charles

Other

Sheldon Charles

Other

Larry M. Cherry

Hair Stylist

Fred Chesterman

Grip

Robert Christensen

Other

Maria Christina

Location Coordinator

Ted Churchill

Steadicam Operator

Charlie Cirigliano

Other

Erica Clark

Other

F. H. Clark

Song

Rodney Clark

Other

Isaac Cochrane

Other

Joanne Cocuzza

Hair Stylist

Sandra Coello

Other

Thomas Coleman

Driver

Aisha Coley

Casting Associate

Michael Colley

Other

Akilia Yamina Collins

Other

David Colon

Other

John Coltrane

Song Performer

John Coltrane

Song

Perry Como

Song Performer

Xiomara Comrie

Camera Trainee

Lorenzo Contessa

Scenic Artist

Austin Conyers

Music

Jacques Cook

Other

H. H. Cooper

Assistant Director

Jeffrey Cooper

Assistant Editor

John A Corbo

Wardrobe

Kathy Cossu

Advisor

Tom Costabile

Foreman

Marko Costanzo

Foley

Aaron Cox

Other

Lamont Crawford

Grip

Jahlive Crawlle

Other

Sasa Crawlle

Other

Greg Criscuolo

Foreman

Kukhautusha Tutuan Croom

Production Assistant

Keith Culbertson

Sound Recordist

Chris Cumberbatch

Scenic Artist

James J Curry

Other

Michael Curry

Other

Michael Curry

Other

Gene Curtis

Other

Jacqui Danilow

Music

Sonja Darling

Stunts

Lee Davis

Other

William Davis

Stunts

Eva Davy

Scenic Artist

Robin Day

Hair Stylist

June Decamp

Scenic Artist

Larry Decarmine

Other

A J Deflorio

Makeup

Victor Dejesus

Assistant

Elizabeth Deluna

On-Set Dresser

Katie Dennis

Other

Paul Deo

Production Assistant

Valerie Desalvo

Generator Operator

Stuart Deutsch

Boom Operator

Audry Dewalt

Song

Anthony Dewitt

Other

Ernest Dickerson

Director Of Photography

Ernest Dickerson

Dp/Cinematographer

Michael Difonzo

Wardrobe

David Dinkins

Special Thanks To

Daniel Ditolla

On-Set Dresser

Ellen M Doak

Scenic Artist

Jerry Dodgio

Music

Jack Doepp

Scenic Artist

Mitchell Donian

Electrician

John K Donohue

Grip

Laura Dorsey

Other

Norman Douglass

Stunts

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
1992
Distribution Company
WARNER BROS. PICTURES DISTRIBUTION (WBPD)
Location
Fishkill, New York, USA; New Jersey, USA; Soweto, South Africa; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New York City, New York, USA; Egypt; Mecca, Saudi Arabia

Technical Specs

Duration
3h 19m

Award Nominations

Best Actor

1992
Denzel Washington

Best Costume Design

1992

Articles

Malcolm X (Two-disc special edition) - Malcolm X (2-Disc Special Edition)


Spike Lee's epic-length biography of the controversial Black Muslim leader Malcolm X is his most assured work, a great film made from difficult material. Lee celebrates Malcolm without enshrining him and lets the controversial nature of much of the man's teachings speak for itself. Like many important men Malcolm was a born agitator bearing challenging ideas, many of them highly debatable. Lee's biopic allows its subject to be believably imperfect.

Synopsis: Aimless young Malcolm Little (Denzel Washington) becomes a numbers runner in Harlem for racketeer West Indian Archie (Delroy Lindo) but after a falling-out has to flee to Boston with his friend Shorty (Spike Lee) and his white girlfriend Sophia (Kate Vernon). A string of burglaries lands Little serious jail time, where he's converted to a Black Muslim church called the Nation of Islam by fellow con Baines (Albert Hall). Upon release, Malcolm becomes a firebrand preacher for the head of the faith, Elijah Muhammad (Al Freeman Jr.) and dedicates his life to the cause of black emancipation. Immensely popular, he expands the Nation of Islam greatly while sowing jealousy and deceit within the organization; he marries a good Muslim nurse/dietician named Betty Shabazz (Angela Bassett) and raises a family. But Elijah Muhammed turns against him, and his own rhetoric attracts the scrutiny of the FBI.

Denzel Washington pulls off quite a coup with Malcom X by making the man sympathetic without soft-pedaling his message. Malcolm's fiery opinions started with the idea that white men were the Devil and slowly worked his way toward a more tolerant point of view. Spike Lee and Arnold Perl's script keeps Malcolm's provocative edge intact. At various points in the picture he calls for complete segregation of the races and condemns the commitment to non-violence of other black leaders as Uncle Tomism.

With plenty of screen time (202 minutes) at his disposal, Lee is able to paint a clear portrait of Malcolm Little's life before his rise to national fame, a life that becomes an indictment of all the things Malcolm felt a black man could do to discredit himself. Straightening one's hair is seen as an effort not to be black, and (in Muslim terms) polluting oneself with alcohol, cigarettes and drugs is perversely actualizing the white man's low opinion of his race. Malcolm's personal revolution and the philosophy he would later preach have little in common with tolerance or the Christian concept of turning the other cheek. His prison teacher Baines shows him how society is fixed against the black man with a simple comparison of how white and black are defined in the dictionary.

The retro-progressive Muslim religion Malcolm advocates maintains traditionally restrictive male and female roles that beg comparison with fundamentalist Christian and Jewish sects. When Malcolm feels it's time to make a proper Muslim marriage, his proper wife is supposed to be a certain height and a certain age (half the man's age plus seven).

The film opens with a fiery image of an American flag burning down to reveal a defiant "X" standing alone, but after that graphic gauntlet the visual fireworks and attention-getting devices that Lee championed in Do the Right Thing are set aside in favor of clear storytelling. The production is put together with masterful ease, effortlessly creating convincing period settings for Harlem dances, Boston slums and the streets of New York City. The dance scenes are entertainingly over-idealized, but when Malcolm leads his churchmen to demand proper medical treatment for a black man beaten by the police, Lee's directorial control is admirable - in other hands the scene could easily be a grandstanding rally for emotional support.

Spike Lee was also able to rally a knockout cast, no member of which is allowed time for special pleading or a star turn. Denzel is a bonafide star light-years beyond the Sidney Poitier days, the intelligent and (when needed) tough-minded authority figure that eluded Harry Belafonte forty years earlier. Angela Bassett is loving and sincere (Lee is as good at presenting upstanding square blacks as he is hipsters) and Al Freeman Jr. (Castle Keep) cryptically menacing as Malcolm's mentor and eventual betrayer. Delroy Lindo is impressive as a three-dimensional numbers racketeer, and Kate Vernon interesting as the white girl who helps lead him into crime.

Spike Lee gives himself roles in many of his films and here plays a rather scurvy associate of Malcolm in his hoodlum days. He'd played Denzel's sidekick just before in Mo' Better Blues. If Lee were reserving himself special status or wasn't a good actor this could be disastrous, but he has a better record acting in his own films than any director I know.

The cameos are in no way disruptive. Christopher Plummer, Peter Boyle and Karen Allen have sharp little vignettes. Many real personages are worked into the distinctively moving montage that Spike uses to end his story and a coda at the tail end of the credits: Tracy Chapman, Bill Cosby, Angela Davis, Janet Jackson, Jesse Jackson, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. Nelson Mandela makes a breathless speech that evokes the "I am Spartacus" cry of rebellion, and the late Ossie Davis recreates the eulogy for Malcolm X that he first delivered at the original funeral service.

The "guests" that appear at the end of the credits are some of the monetary supporters who donated to the film or helped Lee fund it. The Malcolm X project began way back in 1967, and leftist writer Arnold Perl had completed the script not long after that. Spike Lee reportedly had to wrest control of the movie from Norman Jewison to make it his own; his script contribution is said to mainly cover the scenes he's in plus the Mecca sequence. The earlier efforts to produce the movie were stymied by studio demands (the project started at Columbia) that the "political" content be minimized (?). Reportedly, there was also bizarre talk of Charlton Heston playing Malcom X in makeup. (??!)

Warner's Special edition of Malcolm X spreads the lengthy film across two discs and adds substantial extra supplements. A commentary with Spike Lee and his technical collaborators is a good excuse to run the show again. By Any Means Necessary is a new interview documentary on the making of the film. The second disc contains an entire 90 minute Oscar® nominated docu from 1972, Malcolm X; watching it gives one an appreciation for Lee's visual and tonal accuracy. There are also twenty minutes of deleted scenes with an introduction from Lee, and a trailer.

For more information about Malcolm X, visit Warner Video. To order Malcolm X, go to TCM Shopping.

by Glenn Erickson

Footnote: 1. This information is from Paul Buhle & Dave Wagner's book Hide in Plain Sight: The Hollywood Blacklistees in Film and Television, 1950-2002
Return
Malcolm X (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Malcolm X (2-Disc Special Edition)

Malcolm X (Two-disc special edition) - Malcolm X (2-Disc Special Edition)

Spike Lee's epic-length biography of the controversial Black Muslim leader Malcolm X is his most assured work, a great film made from difficult material. Lee celebrates Malcolm without enshrining him and lets the controversial nature of much of the man's teachings speak for itself. Like many important men Malcolm was a born agitator bearing challenging ideas, many of them highly debatable. Lee's biopic allows its subject to be believably imperfect. Synopsis: Aimless young Malcolm Little (Denzel Washington) becomes a numbers runner in Harlem for racketeer West Indian Archie (Delroy Lindo) but after a falling-out has to flee to Boston with his friend Shorty (Spike Lee) and his white girlfriend Sophia (Kate Vernon). A string of burglaries lands Little serious jail time, where he's converted to a Black Muslim church called the Nation of Islam by fellow con Baines (Albert Hall). Upon release, Malcolm becomes a firebrand preacher for the head of the faith, Elijah Muhammad (Al Freeman Jr.) and dedicates his life to the cause of black emancipation. Immensely popular, he expands the Nation of Islam greatly while sowing jealousy and deceit within the organization; he marries a good Muslim nurse/dietician named Betty Shabazz (Angela Bassett) and raises a family. But Elijah Muhammed turns against him, and his own rhetoric attracts the scrutiny of the FBI. Denzel Washington pulls off quite a coup with Malcom X by making the man sympathetic without soft-pedaling his message. Malcolm's fiery opinions started with the idea that white men were the Devil and slowly worked his way toward a more tolerant point of view. Spike Lee and Arnold Perl's script keeps Malcolm's provocative edge intact. At various points in the picture he calls for complete segregation of the races and condemns the commitment to non-violence of other black leaders as Uncle Tomism. With plenty of screen time (202 minutes) at his disposal, Lee is able to paint a clear portrait of Malcolm Little's life before his rise to national fame, a life that becomes an indictment of all the things Malcolm felt a black man could do to discredit himself. Straightening one's hair is seen as an effort not to be black, and (in Muslim terms) polluting oneself with alcohol, cigarettes and drugs is perversely actualizing the white man's low opinion of his race. Malcolm's personal revolution and the philosophy he would later preach have little in common with tolerance or the Christian concept of turning the other cheek. His prison teacher Baines shows him how society is fixed against the black man with a simple comparison of how white and black are defined in the dictionary. The retro-progressive Muslim religion Malcolm advocates maintains traditionally restrictive male and female roles that beg comparison with fundamentalist Christian and Jewish sects. When Malcolm feels it's time to make a proper Muslim marriage, his proper wife is supposed to be a certain height and a certain age (half the man's age plus seven). The film opens with a fiery image of an American flag burning down to reveal a defiant "X" standing alone, but after that graphic gauntlet the visual fireworks and attention-getting devices that Lee championed in Do the Right Thing are set aside in favor of clear storytelling. The production is put together with masterful ease, effortlessly creating convincing period settings for Harlem dances, Boston slums and the streets of New York City. The dance scenes are entertainingly over-idealized, but when Malcolm leads his churchmen to demand proper medical treatment for a black man beaten by the police, Lee's directorial control is admirable - in other hands the scene could easily be a grandstanding rally for emotional support. Spike Lee was also able to rally a knockout cast, no member of which is allowed time for special pleading or a star turn. Denzel is a bonafide star light-years beyond the Sidney Poitier days, the intelligent and (when needed) tough-minded authority figure that eluded Harry Belafonte forty years earlier. Angela Bassett is loving and sincere (Lee is as good at presenting upstanding square blacks as he is hipsters) and Al Freeman Jr. (Castle Keep) cryptically menacing as Malcolm's mentor and eventual betrayer. Delroy Lindo is impressive as a three-dimensional numbers racketeer, and Kate Vernon interesting as the white girl who helps lead him into crime. Spike Lee gives himself roles in many of his films and here plays a rather scurvy associate of Malcolm in his hoodlum days. He'd played Denzel's sidekick just before in Mo' Better Blues. If Lee were reserving himself special status or wasn't a good actor this could be disastrous, but he has a better record acting in his own films than any director I know. The cameos are in no way disruptive. Christopher Plummer, Peter Boyle and Karen Allen have sharp little vignettes. Many real personages are worked into the distinctively moving montage that Spike uses to end his story and a coda at the tail end of the credits: Tracy Chapman, Bill Cosby, Angela Davis, Janet Jackson, Jesse Jackson, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. Nelson Mandela makes a breathless speech that evokes the "I am Spartacus" cry of rebellion, and the late Ossie Davis recreates the eulogy for Malcolm X that he first delivered at the original funeral service. The "guests" that appear at the end of the credits are some of the monetary supporters who donated to the film or helped Lee fund it. The Malcolm X project began way back in 1967, and leftist writer Arnold Perl had completed the script not long after that. Spike Lee reportedly had to wrest control of the movie from Norman Jewison to make it his own; his script contribution is said to mainly cover the scenes he's in plus the Mecca sequence. The earlier efforts to produce the movie were stymied by studio demands (the project started at Columbia) that the "political" content be minimized (?). Reportedly, there was also bizarre talk of Charlton Heston playing Malcom X in makeup. (??!) Warner's Special edition of Malcolm X spreads the lengthy film across two discs and adds substantial extra supplements. A commentary with Spike Lee and his technical collaborators is a good excuse to run the show again. By Any Means Necessary is a new interview documentary on the making of the film. The second disc contains an entire 90 minute Oscar® nominated docu from 1972, Malcolm X; watching it gives one an appreciation for Lee's visual and tonal accuracy. There are also twenty minutes of deleted scenes with an introduction from Lee, and a trailer. For more information about Malcolm X, visit Warner Video. To order Malcolm X, go to TCM Shopping. by Glenn Erickson Footnote: 1. This information is from Paul Buhle & Dave Wagner's book Hide in Plain Sight: The Hollywood Blacklistees in Film and Television, 1950-2002 Return

Ossie Davis (1917-2005)


Ossie Davis, the distinguished African-American character actor, director and civil rights activist, died of natural causes on February 4 in Miami Beach, where he was filming a movie. He was 87.

He was born Raiford Chatman Davis on December 18, 1917 in Cogdell, Georgia. His parents called him "R.C." When his mother registered his birth, the county clerk misunderstood her and thought she said "Ossie" instead of "R.C.," and the name stuck. He graduated high school in 1936 and was offered two scholarships: one to Savannah State College in Georgia and the other to the famed Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, but he could not afford the tuition and turned them down. He eventually saved enough money to hitchhike to Washington, D.C., where he lived with relatives while attending Howard University and studied drama.

As much as he enjoyed studying dramatics, Davis had a hunger to practice the trade professionally and in 1939, he left Howard University and headed to Harlem to work in the Rose McClendon Players, a highly respected, all-black theater ensemble in its day.

Davis' good looks and deep voice were impressive from the beginning, and he quickly joined the company and remained for three years. With the onset of World War II, Davis spent nearly four years in service, mainly as a surgical technician in an all-black Army hospital in Liberia, serving both wounded troops and local inhabitants before being transferred to Special Services to write and produce stage shows for the troops.

Back in New York in 1946, Davis debuted on Broadway in Jeb, a play about a returning black soldier who runs afoul of the Ku Klux Klan in the deep south. His co-star was Ruby Dee, an attractive leading lady who was one of the leading lights of black theater and film. Their initial romance soon developed into a lasting bond, and the two were married on December 9, 1948.

With Hollywood making much more socially conscious, adult films, particularly those that tackled themes of race (Lonely Are The Brave, Pinky, Lost Boundaries all 1949), it wasn't long before Hollywood came calling for Davis. His first film, with which he co-starred with his wife Dee, was a tense Joseph L. Mankiewicz's prison drama with strong racial overtones No Way Out (1950). He followed that up with a role as a cab driver in Henry Hathaway's Fourteen Hours (1951). Yet for the most part, Davis and Dee were primarily stage actors, and made few film appearances throughout the decade.

However, in should be noted that much of Davis time in the '50s was spent in social causes. Among them, a vocal protest against the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and an alignment with singer and black activist Paul Robeson. Davis remained loyal to Robeson even after he was denounced by other black political, sports and show business figures for his openly communist and pro-Soviet sympathies. Such affiliation led them to suspicions in the anti-Communist witch hunts of the early '50s, but Davis, nor his wife Dee, were never openly accused of any wrongdoing.

If there was ever a decade that Ossie Davis was destined for greatness, it was undoubtly the '60s. He began with a hit Broadway show, A Raisin in the Sun in 1960, and followed that up a year later with his debut as a playwright - the satire, Purlie Victorious. In it, Davis starred as Purlie, a roustabout preacher who returns to southern Georgia with a plan to buy his former master's plantation barn and turn it into a racially integrated church.

Although not an initial success, the play would be adapted into a Tony-award winning musical, Purlie years later. Yet just as important as his stage success, was the fact that Davis' film roles became much more rich and varied: a liberal priest in John Huston's The Cardinal (1963); an unflinching tough performance as a black soldier who won't break against a sadistic sergeant's racial taunts in Sidney Lumet's searing war drama The Hill (1965); and a shrewd, evil butler who turns the tables on his employer in Rod Serling's Night Gallery (1969).

In 1970, he tried his hand at film directing, and scored a hit with Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970), a sharp urban action comedy with Godfrey Cambridge and Raymond St. Jacques as two black cops trying to stop a con artist from stealing Harlem's poor. It's generally considered the first major crossover film for the black market that was a hit with white audiences. Elsewhere, he found roles in some popular television mini-series such as King, and Roots: The Next Generation (both 1978), but for the most part, was committed to the theater.

Happily, along came Spike Lee, who revived his film career when he cast him in School Daze (1988). Davis followed that up with two more Lee films: Do the Right Thing (1989), and Jungle Fever (1991), which also co-starred his wife Dee. From there, Davis found himself in demand for senior character parts in many films throughtout the '90s: Grumpy Old Men (1993), The Client (1994), I'm Not Rappaport (1996), and HBO's remake of 12 Angry Men (1997).

Davis and Dee celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1998 with the publication of a dual autobiography, In This Life Together, and in 2004, they were among the artists selected to receive the Kennedy Center Honors. Davis had been in Miami filming an independent movie called Retirement with co-stars George Segal, Rip Torn and Peter Falk.

In addition to his widow Dee, Davis is survived by three children, Nora Day, Hasna Muhammad and Guy Davis; and seven grandchildren.

by Michael T. Toole

Ossie Davis (1917-2005)

Ossie Davis, the distinguished African-American character actor, director and civil rights activist, died of natural causes on February 4 in Miami Beach, where he was filming a movie. He was 87. He was born Raiford Chatman Davis on December 18, 1917 in Cogdell, Georgia. His parents called him "R.C." When his mother registered his birth, the county clerk misunderstood her and thought she said "Ossie" instead of "R.C.," and the name stuck. He graduated high school in 1936 and was offered two scholarships: one to Savannah State College in Georgia and the other to the famed Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, but he could not afford the tuition and turned them down. He eventually saved enough money to hitchhike to Washington, D.C., where he lived with relatives while attending Howard University and studied drama. As much as he enjoyed studying dramatics, Davis had a hunger to practice the trade professionally and in 1939, he left Howard University and headed to Harlem to work in the Rose McClendon Players, a highly respected, all-black theater ensemble in its day. Davis' good looks and deep voice were impressive from the beginning, and he quickly joined the company and remained for three years. With the onset of World War II, Davis spent nearly four years in service, mainly as a surgical technician in an all-black Army hospital in Liberia, serving both wounded troops and local inhabitants before being transferred to Special Services to write and produce stage shows for the troops. Back in New York in 1946, Davis debuted on Broadway in Jeb, a play about a returning black soldier who runs afoul of the Ku Klux Klan in the deep south. His co-star was Ruby Dee, an attractive leading lady who was one of the leading lights of black theater and film. Their initial romance soon developed into a lasting bond, and the two were married on December 9, 1948. With Hollywood making much more socially conscious, adult films, particularly those that tackled themes of race (Lonely Are The Brave, Pinky, Lost Boundaries all 1949), it wasn't long before Hollywood came calling for Davis. His first film, with which he co-starred with his wife Dee, was a tense Joseph L. Mankiewicz's prison drama with strong racial overtones No Way Out (1950). He followed that up with a role as a cab driver in Henry Hathaway's Fourteen Hours (1951). Yet for the most part, Davis and Dee were primarily stage actors, and made few film appearances throughout the decade. However, in should be noted that much of Davis time in the '50s was spent in social causes. Among them, a vocal protest against the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and an alignment with singer and black activist Paul Robeson. Davis remained loyal to Robeson even after he was denounced by other black political, sports and show business figures for his openly communist and pro-Soviet sympathies. Such affiliation led them to suspicions in the anti-Communist witch hunts of the early '50s, but Davis, nor his wife Dee, were never openly accused of any wrongdoing. If there was ever a decade that Ossie Davis was destined for greatness, it was undoubtly the '60s. He began with a hit Broadway show, A Raisin in the Sun in 1960, and followed that up a year later with his debut as a playwright - the satire, Purlie Victorious. In it, Davis starred as Purlie, a roustabout preacher who returns to southern Georgia with a plan to buy his former master's plantation barn and turn it into a racially integrated church. Although not an initial success, the play would be adapted into a Tony-award winning musical, Purlie years later. Yet just as important as his stage success, was the fact that Davis' film roles became much more rich and varied: a liberal priest in John Huston's The Cardinal (1963); an unflinching tough performance as a black soldier who won't break against a sadistic sergeant's racial taunts in Sidney Lumet's searing war drama The Hill (1965); and a shrewd, evil butler who turns the tables on his employer in Rod Serling's Night Gallery (1969). In 1970, he tried his hand at film directing, and scored a hit with Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970), a sharp urban action comedy with Godfrey Cambridge and Raymond St. Jacques as two black cops trying to stop a con artist from stealing Harlem's poor. It's generally considered the first major crossover film for the black market that was a hit with white audiences. Elsewhere, he found roles in some popular television mini-series such as King, and Roots: The Next Generation (both 1978), but for the most part, was committed to the theater. Happily, along came Spike Lee, who revived his film career when he cast him in School Daze (1988). Davis followed that up with two more Lee films: Do the Right Thing (1989), and Jungle Fever (1991), which also co-starred his wife Dee. From there, Davis found himself in demand for senior character parts in many films throughtout the '90s: Grumpy Old Men (1993), The Client (1994), I'm Not Rappaport (1996), and HBO's remake of 12 Angry Men (1997). Davis and Dee celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1998 with the publication of a dual autobiography, In This Life Together, and in 2004, they were among the artists selected to receive the Kennedy Center Honors. Davis had been in Miami filming an independent movie called Retirement with co-stars George Segal, Rip Torn and Peter Falk. In addition to his widow Dee, Davis is survived by three children, Nora Day, Hasna Muhammad and Guy Davis; and seven grandchildren. by Michael T. Toole

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Denzel Washington was named best actor by the New York Film Critics Circle (1992).

Nominated by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for a Golden Globe (1992) award for best actor -- drama (Denzel Washington).

Named best picture at the NAACP's 26th annual Image Awards. In addition, Denzel Washington was named outstanding lead actor in a motion picture and Al Freeman, Jr. and Angela Bassett were named outstanding supporting actor and actress, respectively.

Released in United States Fall November 18, 1992

Released in United States on Video July 21, 1993

Released in United States August 1997

Released in United States March 1999

Film is based on an original screenplay by the late author James Baldwin.

Principal photography wrapped December 20, 1991.

Film noted: "Thank Jesus for Aretha Franklin and Arrested Development."

Denzel Washington received the Silver Bear Award for best actor at the 1993 Berlin International Film Festival.

Began shooting September 16, 1991.

Completed shooting January 26, 1992.

Film noted: "Thank Allah for Bill Cosby, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Oprah Winfrey, Tracy Chapman, Prince, Janet Jackson and Peggy Cooper-Cafritz."

Film noted: "In memory of Alex Haley."

Released in United States Fall November 18, 1992

Released in United States on Video July 21, 1993

Released in United States August 1997 (Shown in New York City (Adam Clayton Powell Gallery) as part of program "Harlem Week 1997" August 1-15, 1997.)

Released in United States March 1999 (Shown in Los Angeles (American Cinematheque) as part of program "Out in the Streets: The Films of Spike Lee" March 15-20, 1999.)

Denzel Washington was named best actor by the Boston Society of Film Critics (1992).