Marshall

Based on a true story, Marshall is a well-crafted biopic about the early years of the first African-American Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall during his time as a lawyer for the NAACP representing a black man accused of raping a white socialite. We first meet Marshall, played by Chadwick Boseman best known for his role as Jackie Robinson in 2013’s 42, as a crusading lawyer working for the then relatively small African-American civil rights organization known as the NAACP. As only one of the few full-time lawyers on staff, he is sent throughout the United States to represent falsely accused black defendants who are on trial primarily the result of racial discrimination. In 1941, the head of the NAACP recruits him to represent a black chauffeur named Joseph Spell, played by Emmy Award winner Sterling K. Brown, charged with raping the wealthy white woman he works for in the predominantly white town of Greenwich, Connecticut. Played by Golden Globe winner Kate Hudson, Eleanor Strubing claims that while her wealthy husband was away she was brutally assaulted, repeatedly raped, and thrown off a bridge by Spell. Unable to directly represent Spell as an out-of-state attorney, the brilliant Marshall must work with the reluctant local white lawyer Sam Friedman, played by Josh Gad, to develop a case and find evidence disputing the crime that Spell repeatedly says he did not commit. The filmmaker shows the meticulous and extremely smart detective and legal skills of Marshall to uncover the truth while being bombarded with racist attacks from the white community. Although the time away from his wife is often challenging, he bravely embraces his dangerous job because of his passion for equality under the law and respecting the Constitution. Racism was so prevalent at the time that even the prosecuting attorney Loren Willis, played by Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey fame, and Judge Foster, played by James Cromwell, clearly do not respect Marshall as a black man and blindly trust the evidence and witness accounts despite not crossing the legal threshold of beyond a reasonable doubt. Over the course of the trial, Friedman becomes a friend to Marshall and understands what African-Americans go through on a daily basis after he is attacked for helping Marshall and being a Jewish immigrant. The movie is also an excellent example of a tense courtroom drama that slowly builds up suspense to the verdict. Overall, I thought the film provides unique insight into the legendary Thurgood Marshall by presenting a relatively unheard-of case in his early career and how it forms the rest of his highly successful career leading up to his appointment as a Supreme Court Justice in 1967. The quality acting performances and writing creates an inspirational and compelling portrayal of the early Civil Rights Movement and the role of Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP. 

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