The true story of civil rights attorney Thurgood Marshall, as he
fights an uphill struggle in one of his early, career-defining cases.
Directed by Reginald Hudlin
Written by Michael Koskoff and Jacob Koskoff
Starring Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson,
Sterling K. Brown, James Cromwell, Dan Stevens
Oscar Nominations - Best Original Song (Stand Up for Something)
Thurgood Marshall is an inspiring historical figure. In addition to being a landmark civil rights lawyer, he also became the first African-American to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. He fought for the rights of black Americans almost his entire life, including winning the famous Brown v. Board of Education case that ended segregation in schools. This film tells a part of his story, which is large enough to warrant a miniseries. Marshall is a great courtroom drama about an early case of Marshall's in 1940, back when he was a young lawyer working with the NAACP.
A man named Joseph Spell (Brown) is falsely charged with rape after the rich white woman he spent a consensual night with suddenly changes her story to shed herself of shame. Thurgood Marshall is sent to represent him, but since the judge (Cromwell) is a racist piece of shit, he won't let Marshall speak in the trial. So, the lawyering goes to inexperienced, civil court lawyer Sam Friedman (Gad), who slowly grows to understand the butterfly effect that the Spell case's verdict will have on the black community in America. The courtroom scenes are equal parts riveting and infuriating, and the racist assholes who come out of the woodwork to attack Marshall and Friedman are unfortunately plentiful, as they were in history. This film doesn't shy away from the dark side of America that will never truly die.
Chadwick Boseman does a fantastic job playing his latest historical figure. (James Brown, Jackie Robinson, etc.) I was more surprised at how well Josh Gad handled himself. I always found him goofy and insufferable, but now he's impressed me. Maybe there's hope for him yet. If you want to learn about a significant victory for 20th century black Americans, check out this movie that got virtually zero attention back in 2017. It's a winner.