13 October 2017| No Comments on Marshall     by Sean Chavel


Sometimes you see a film that screams “standard-issue biopic” but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be compelling and stirring. Chadwick Boseman once again horns in his talent for Marshall, a courtroom driven movie that’s about a prominent figure for the NAACP in the 1940’s and notably the first African-American attorney in the U.S. The name is Thurgood Marshall, and he and his organization stood up for wrongly accused blacks in an era when whites commonly forged false evidence against blacks. The movie centers around one pivotal case, one of a black limousine driver named Joseph Spell accused of raping the matriarch of the house and then dumping her over the bridge. It’s a case that sounds like a page torn from Richard Wright’s “Native Son.”

Marshall is dispatched to white bread Connecticut to defend this man, but a crusty judge (James Cromwell) refuses to accept a temporary license for Marshall to practice the case in his State. That means Sam Friedman, a white lawyer (Josh Gad) a little green when it comes to defending homicide cases, has to step in and take the lead in the courthouse, but it also means the entire time Marshall insists on feeding strategic ideas on the case.

By this time at the movies, it’s a little repetitive seeing Gad as the klutz and doughy punching bag but it’s worth accepting him as this type at least this time. Once again, we get the bristling charisma of Boseman who proves he can not only carry any movie but also lift its worth. The writing is sometimes hackneyed, but more often than not says something wise about disparity of race in the 1940’s. The court case itself is a very good one (anything that echoes “Native Son” has got to have intrinsic value). It certainly has a twist a well (SPOILER ALERT), here being both sides of the case are pickled in lies. “Marshall” is solid biographical history elevated by the smarts of verve of Boseman’s acting and it deserves to be seen.

118 Minutes. Rated PG-13.


Film Cousins: “In the Heat of the Night” (1967); “Native Son” (1986); “The Great Debaters” (2007); “42” (2013).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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