STUDIO: Warner Brothers
MSRP: $24.98
RATED:  Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 184 minutes


The Pitch

George Wallace can’t feel his legs, but you’ll feel the roots of his racism.

The Humans

Gary Sinise, Angelina Jolie, Mare Winningham, Clarence Williams III and Joe Don Baker

The Nutshell

John Frankenheimer worked with TNT in the late 1990s to produce this pop-psych look at George Wallace. Once a man of the Progressive South, time saw Wallace become a fervent racist and future presidential candidate. He wasn’t always a racist, as we get to see how Wallace got swept into the anti-segregation movement. Wallace was a man that wanted power and is willing to side with those that have it. Clocking in at a smidge over three hours, this was one of the most ambiitious television movies of the last few decades.

Back when she was super-hot and looked less like that crazy Octuplet lady.

The Lowdown

George Wallace
is a good film that leaves itself open to attack. If John Frankenheimer would’ve stuck closer to Marshall Frady’s original biography, then the historians would’ve cut the man some slack. But, fictional characters are created to offer a light shade of Wallace’s past. Hell, Frankenheimer all but pleads for you to like the man. But, why? Especially, when it seems to undercut Gary Sinise’s Emmy award-winning work in the role.

Changeling power activate: Form of Hollow Man member in the mouth.

George Wallace  is split into two parts mimicing its original multi-night airing. The first chunk drops you square in the lap of the famous 1972 attempted assassination that left Wallace paralyzed. But, before too much time is spent on that…we’re whipped back in time to Wallace’s rise to Governor of Alabama. Big Jim Folsom was Wallace’s predecessor and he was all too willing to help Wallace indulge his many vices. These vices mainly included screwing over the non-whites and macking on younger women.

You’d make a face like this too, if you carried a big stick.

The cast is an amazing collection of characters actors and Angelina Jolie. Jolie’s role as Wallace’s trophy second wife stands out so much now, that it’s almost a distraction. Mind you that this is the Jolie of the Pre-Girl Interrupted phase of her career. Back before she was trying to make message movies. Back before she was trying to suck all the seed out of Pitt’s loins. She holds her own with award winners such as Mare Winningham, Gary Sinise and Joe Don Baker. The only one who really feels like a wet sack in the flick is Clarence Williams III. But, he does the best that he can in his token minority role.

I’m not saying that I’ve got all the answers. I’m just saying that a lot of them involve giving the black folk our old water fountains, bathrooms and seats in the back of the bus.

George Wallace works as much as it doesn’t. You’ve got the clunky efforts to redeem the central character and turn into some sort of tragic hero. But, you’ve got a cast that works their ass off to make sure that you understand how much of a bastard he is. I’m not going to fault directing master John Frankenheimer, but he could’ve bothered to get everyone on the same page. You’ve got to admire a director that can hammer out something so amazing to watch, outside of such a bizarre script.

He’s looking at the scotch, the way that I look at my Ether. Just hoping that one more blast is going to knock you out of Readers Digest territory and send you straight to Studs Terkel land.

The Package

has a pretty strong transfer with no audio dropout. The sole special feature is a featurette about the productioin of the film. It’s strictly press kit material that doesn’t really offer up a great deal on the film. It would’ve been nice to have seen Warner Brothers incorporate some material that explains Wallace’s role in history to the uninformed. But, I guess that would’ve been asking too much of a movie studio.

8.1 out of 10