Taglines: Live Hard. Fight Harder.
In 1940, Thurgood Marshall is an NAACP lawyer travelling the country defending people of color who are wrongly accused of crimes because of racial prejudice. Upon his return to his New York office, he is sent to Bridgeport, Connecticut, to defend Joseph Spell, a chauffeur accused of rape by his white employer, Eleanor Strubing, in a case that has gripped the newspapers.
In Bridgeport, insurance lawyer Sam Friedman is assigned by his brother to get Marshall admitted to the local bar, against his will. At the hearing, Judge Foster, a friend of the father of prosecutor Lorin Willis, agrees to admit Marshall, but forbids Marshall from speaking during the trial, forcing Friedman to be Spell’s lead counsel. Marshall must guide Friedman through notes, such as when he advises Friedman to allow a woman of Southern white descent into the jury because of her assertive and questioning personality.
Spell swears to Marshall that he never had any sexual contact with Strubing, and leads the lawyers to a patrolman who stopped Spell that night while he was driving Strubing’s car. Marshall and Friedman investigate Strubing’s story that Spell tied her up in the back seat of her car after raping her, and then drove to a bridge to throw her over. They wonder why Spell appeared to throw her over the calm side instead of the side with rapids.
Spell is initially interested in a plea bargain offered by Willis, but Marshall talks him out of it. Later on at trial, though, a doctor testifies to finding pieces of skin underneath Strubing’s fingernails, as well as bruises. Strubing herself testifies that she was tied in the back seat when the patrolman pulled Spell over. With this information, Marshall and Friedman confront Spell, who admits that he was lying about not having sexual contact with Strubing.
At trial, Spell testifies that Strubing’s husband inflicted the bruises through repeated acts of spousal abuse. That night, he went to see Strubing for an advance on his salary, finding a distraught Strubing wanting to have sex with him. Spell consents, and the two have several sexual encounters that night, with Spell getting scratched by Strubing. But then Strubing panics about being found out and being pregnant.
Spell tries to drive her to a doctor, but Strubing has to hide in the back seat when the patrolman questions him. A hysterical Strubing forces Spell to stop by a bridge where she runs out and tries to kill herself by jumping off. But she survives and flags down a motorist making up a desperate story about rape. When Willis asks why Spell didn’t tell the truth to begin with, Spell talks about how black men get lynched in his native Louisiana for having sex with white women. Over Willis’s objections, Judge Foster allows Spell’s statement to stand.
Marshall is a 2017 American biographical legal drama film directed by Reginald Hudlin and written by Michael and Jacob Koskoff. It stars Chadwick Boseman as Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court Justice, and focuses on one of the first cases of his career. It also stars Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Dan Stevens, Sterling K. Brown, and James Cromwell.
Principal photography began in Los Angeles in mid-December 2015. The film premiered at Howard University on September 20, 2017, and was released in the United States by Open Road Films on October 13, 2017. It received positive reviews from critics but grossed just $10 million against a $12 million budget. At the 90th Academy Awards, it received a nomination for Best Original Song for “Stand Up for Something”.
Directed by: Reginald Hudlin
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Dan Stevens, Sterling K. Brown, James Cromwell, Keesha Sharp, Roger Guenveur Smith, Derrick Baskin, Zanete Shadwick, John Magaro
Screenplay by: Michael Koskoff, Jacob Koskoff
Production Design by: Richard Hoover
Cinematography by: Newton Thomas Sigel
Film Editing by: Tom McArdle
Costume Design by: Ruth E. Carter
Set Decoration by: Kara Lindstrom
Art Direction by: Jeff Schoen
Music by: Marcus Miller
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic content, sexuality, violence and some strong language.
Distributed by: Open Road Films
Release Date: October 13, 2017