It should probably be a given that real life sports celebrities should never depict themselves in stories about their own life. Baseball star Jackie Robinson was called upon to do the same thing in a 1950 movie about his career up till then - "The Jackie Robinson Story". Quite unexpectedly, Robinson displayed a surprising lack of charisma portraying himself, no doubt due to the fact that he was probably very self conscious appearing on screen. The same can't be said of Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali of course. I don't think anyone could ever accuse him of being camera shy, but this picture simply doesn't do the former champ justice.
I say this with the hindsight of having grown up with Clay/Ali's name in the headlines virtually non-stop from the time he became a heavyweight contender and handed Sonny Liston that stunning defeat to become World Champion on February 25th, 1964. From that point on, the colorful boxer maintained a ubiquitous presence on front pages of the nation's newspapers with his prophetic poetry and outsized ego. The story here does touch on all that, with a whirlwind overview of his troubles with the government and the matches that brought him his second world title at the 'Rumble in the Jungle' in Kinshasa, Zaire against a formidable George Foreman.
Notably absent from this biopic, and one I can't quite understand, was the omission of legendary sportscaster Howard Cosell, who followed Ali's career closely and became a close friend. With other members of Ali's inner circle portrayed by actors like Ernest Borgnine, John Marley and Lloyd Haines, Cosell's absence stuck out like a sore thumb for this viewer.
One thing that the picture depicted that I was never aware of was the business with the young Clay throwing away his Olympic gold medal over a racial grievance. I can't imagine how that ever got by me, and so I questioned it's accuracy while watching the picture. An internet search revealed a story about someone finding the medal in the Ohio River some fifty four years later on June 21, 2014, thereby putting to rest any concerns that the story was fabricated by the loquacious Ali as a publicity stunt when it was revealed for the first time.
Die hard Muhammad Ali fans will probably want to tune into this story, but on the flip side, die hard fans won't learn anything new, so the novelty would be in seeing Ali portray himself as a young man on his climb to becoming 'The Greatest'. Unlikely as it may seem, the 2001 film "Ali" starring Will Smith as the legendary champ is more inspirational than this one, and comes recommended for fans of the boxer and the man.
Biography / Drama / Sport
Biography / Drama / Sport
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Muhammad Ali stars as himself in this dramatized version of his life story up to the late 1970s. It includes his Olympic triumphs as Cassius Clay, his conversion to Islam, his refusal of the Army draft, and the legal battle after being stripped of his World Title.
Uploaded by: FREEMAN
October 09, 2022 at 09:13 AM