HBO to sting like a bee with a new film about Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali arrestedMichael Mann's ALI is a fascinating film that hosts powerhouse performances, a gripping visual aesthetic, and a runtime that is at least twenty minutes too long. But the film's success really all comes down to the soul, energy, and humanity that Will Smith brings to every moment of that extra-long runtime, and I have no idea who in the world HBO is going to get to fill those floating shoes.  The film will bear the title of MUHAMMAD ALI'S GREATEST FIGHT, and details "the legal fight between Ali and the U.S. government when the fighter became a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War." 

To that end several of the more important historical figures have been cast, with Frank Langella (FROST/NIXON) set to play Chief Justice Warren Berger and Christopher Plummer (BEGINNERS) on board as Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice John Marshall Harlan II.   Stephen Frears (THE QUEEN) will direct from a script by Shawn Slovo (CAPTAIN CORELLI'S MANDOLIN).

Frank Langella white shirtChristopher Plummer green shirt

A more detailed history of this pivotal period in Muhammad Ali's life: "Ali was drafted into the Army in 1966 but declined to serve, citing his belief that the war was against the teachings of the Koran. When he appeared at an armed services induction in 1967 and refused to step forward when his name was called, he was arrested.  After being found guilty, a series of appeals were fought and the case wound its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1971 (Clay v United States). Ali persevered, mainly due to the prevailing anti-Vietnam winds, and also managed to throw out provocative lines into the mainstream such as “I ain't got no quarrel with the Vietcong. No Vietcong ever called me N-----.”

Extra Tidbit: Ali was not able to box between 1967 and 1970 due to being banned and stripped of all his titles for refusing to serve in the military.



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