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The Great Debaters
- Denzel Washington

Overview - IN THEATRES DECEMBER 25, 2007 Denzel Washington directs and stars in this uplifting drama based on a true story about a small East Texas all-black college in 1935 that rises to the top of the nation's debate teams in a duel against Harvard. A poet and debating coach at Wiley College, Professor Melvin Tolson (Washington) sees debating as "a blood sport" and recruits the meanest and brightest, including troubled Henry (Nate Parker), driven Samantha (Jurnee Smollet), and the 14-year-old prodigy James Farmer, Jr.  Read more...

 
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Overview

IN THEATRES DECEMBER 25, 2007 Denzel Washington directs and stars in this uplifting drama based on a true story about a small East Texas all-black college in 1935 that rises to the top of the nation's debate teams in a duel against Harvard. A poet and debating coach at Wiley College, Professor Melvin Tolson (Washington) sees debating as "a blood sport" and recruits the meanest and brightest, including troubled Henry (Nate Parker), driven Samantha (Jurnee Smollet), and the 14-year-old prodigy James Farmer, Jr. (Denzel Whitaker). Oscar winner Forest Whitaker (no relation) plays Farmer's father, the initially unsupportive president of the school. There's tough training, romantic heat over the attentions of fiery Samantha (the first girl on the team), and some no holds-barred racism (including a witnessed lynching) before the big match-up against the Ivy League school, adding to the overall emotional force. Though feel-good historical competition movies like this have been done before, Washington serves up his effort as a lean, mean family dinner, with minimum fuss and maximum nutritional-educational value. Historical accuracy may be thrown to the wind more than once--Farmer is the only real student among the team, and the final debate was against USC, not Harvard--but the acting is uniformly superb. It's great to watch these kids slowly incorporate Tolson's incredible poise and intellectual rigor into their lives, and the message is as important as ever. Oprah Winfrey served as producer.

Cast List

Kate Forte - Producer
Denzel Washington - American actor, GLORY/TRAINING DAY
Forest Whitaker - American actor/director, THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND
John Heard - American actor, HOME ALONE (1990)
Hughes Winborne - Editor, CRASH (2005)
James Newton Howard - Composer, KING KONG (2005)
Oprah Winfrey - Talk show host/actress
Jurnee Smollett - Television actress
Gina Ravera - Actress
David Crockett - Executive Producer, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (2005)
Todd Black - Producer, ANTWONE FISHER (2002)
Jeffrey Porro - Story, THE GREAT DEBATERS
Jermaine Williams - Actor, FAT ALBERT (2004)
Denzel Whitaker - Actor, THE GREAT DEBATERS
Bob Weinstein - Prod./Screenwriter/Director
Robert Weinstein - Prod./Screenwriter/Director
Sharen Davis - Costume Designer, RAY (2004)
Robert Eisele - Screenwriter, THE GREAT DEBATERS
Peter Golub - Music, WORDPLAY (2006)
Joe Roth - American Producer/Director
Nate Parker - Actor, THE GREAT DEBATERS
Kimberly Elise - Actress/"Set It Off"
Harvey Weinstein - Film producer
Phillippe Rousselot - French cinematographer, REMEMBER THE TITANS

 
Details
    DVD Format
  • Format: DVD
  • Run Time: 124
  • Color Format: Color
  • UPC: 796019810708
  • Genre: Drama
  • Rating: PG-13 (MPAA) (for depiction of strong thematic material including violence and disturbing images, and for language and brief sexuality)
  • Release Date: May 2013

Related Categories:
Movies > Dramas

Related Keywords:
Theatrical Release

 
Movie Reviews

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Reviews:
"[With] strong, emotionally grounded performances....It radiates nobility of spirit." - 12/25/2007 New York Times


"Working hard on both sides of the camera, Washington has grafted his intensity onto this production....The essential story of the film is both remarkable and true." - 12/25/2007 Los Angeles Times


"THE GREAT DEBATERS soars with words and feeling..." -- Grade: B - 01/11/2008 Entertainment Weekly, p.58

 
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