Ghosts of Mississippi
|Ghosts of Mississippi|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Rob Reiner|
|Produced by||Nicholas Paleologos
Frederick M. Zollo
|Written by||Lewis Colick|
|Music by||Marc Shaiman|
|Edited by||Robert Leighton|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
Ghosts of Mississippi is a 1996 American drama film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Alec Baldwin, Whoopi Goldberg, and James Woods. The plot is based on the true story of the 1994 trial of Byron De La Beckwith, the white supremacist accused of the 1963 assassination of civil rights activist Medgar Evers.
James Woods was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role of Byron De La Beckwith. The original music score was composed by Marc Shaiman and the cinematography is by John Seale. In 2008, AFI nominated Ghosts of Mississippi for the Courtroom Drama segment of its AFI's 10 Top 10 special but the movie did not make the final countdown.
Medgar Evers was a black civil rights activist in Mississippi who was murdered by an assassin on June 12, 1963. It was suspected that Byron De La Beckwith, a white supremacist, was the murderer. He had been tried twice and both trials ended in hung juries. In 1989, Evers' widow Myrlie, who had been trying to bring De La Beckwith to justice for over 25 years, believed she had what it takes to bring him to trial again. Although most of the evidence from the old trial had disappeared, Bobby DeLaughter, an assistant District Attorney, decided to help her despite being warned that it might hurt his political aspirations and despite the strain that it caused in his marriage. DeLaughter becomes primarily involved with bringing De La Beckwith to trial for the third time 30 years later. In 1994, Byron De La Beckwith was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment, giving justice to the family of Medgar Evers.
- Alec Baldwin as Bobby DeLaughter
- Whoopi Goldberg as Myrlie Evers
- James Woods as Byron De La Beckwith
- Virginia Madsen as Dixie DeLaughter
- Susanna Thompson as Peggy Lloyd
- Craig T. Nelson as Ed Peters
- Lucas Black as Burt DeLaughter
- Alexa Vega as Claire DeLaughter
- William H. Macy as Charlie Crisco
- Benny Bennett as Lloyd "Benny" Bennett (Himself)
- Diane Ladd as Grandma Caroline Moore
- Margo Martindale as Clara Mayfield
- Darrell Evers as Himself
- Yolanda King as Reena Evers
- Jerry Levine as Jerry Mitchell
- James Van Evers as Himself
- Michael O'Keefe as Merrida Coxwell
- Bill Smitrovich as Jim Kitchens
- Terry O'Quinn as Judge Hilburn
- Rex Linn as Martin Scott
- James Pickens, Jr. as Medgar Evers
- Richard Riehle as Tommy Mayfield
- Bonnie Bartlett as Billie DeLaughter
- Brock Peters as Walter Williams
- Wayne Rogers as Morris Dees
- Bill Cobbs as Charles Evers
- Jim Harley as Delamar Dennis
The soundtrack of the film, with a score by Marc Shaiman, featured two versions of the Billy Taylor composition "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free" – one sung by Dionne Farris and the other by Nina Simone – as well as numbers by Muddy Waters, Tony Bennett, Robert Johnson and B.B. King.
The movie received mixed reviews from critics, with Rotten Tomatoes giving it a 46% rating.
American Film Institute recognition:
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains:
- Byron De La Beckwith - Nominated Villain
- AFI's 10 Top 10 - Nominated Courtroom Drama
- "AFI's Top Ten Film Genres"
- Steve McDonald, "Marc Shaiman: Ghosts of Mississippi", AllMusic Review.
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains Nominees
- "AFI's Top Ten Film Genres"