Malcolm X (1972 film)

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Malcolm X
Malcolm X (1972 film).jpg
Film poster
Directed by Arnold Perl
Produced by Mick Benderoth
Arnold Perl
Nancy Reals Perl
Marvin Worth
Written by Alex Haley
Arnold Perl
Malcolm X
Narrated by James Earl Jones
Ossie Davis
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date
  • May 24, 1972 (1972-05-24)
Running time
91 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Malcolm X, also known as Malcolm X: His Own Story as It Really Happened, is a 1972 American documentary film directed by Arnold Perl. It is based on The Autobiography of Malcolm X.[1] The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.[2]

Marvin Worth and Perl started working on Malcolm X in 1969, four years after the human rights activist's assassination. The pair initially intended for the film to be a drama, but in the end they made a documentary when some people close to Malcolm X refused to talk to them.[1] Worth recalled in 1993, "I mostly went for the public figure, rather than the private man. I aimed for showing the evolution of the man and what he had to say. I wanted to do it with the public speeches."[1]

Betty Shabazz, Malcolm X's widow, served as a consultant to the film-makers. She was so pleased with the resulting film, she took her six daughters—who ranged in age from six to thirteen—to see it. Afterwards, one of them asked, "Daddy was everything to you, wasn't he?"[3]

According to the Los Angeles Times, Malcolm X garnered "enthusiastic reviews".[4] Time wrote:

For Warner Bros. to make a documentary about Malcolm X seems about as likely as for the D.A.R. to sponsor the Peking Ballet. That the film should come from such a source is the first surprise. The second is that it is good—a fair forum for Malcolm's fundamental ideas and an exceptional visual chronicle of how those ideas took shape.[5]

In his review for The New York Times, Howard Thompson described it as "a generally rounded, often fascinating movie". Thompson also wrote that the film was "surprisingly balanced".[6]

Jay Carr wrote in The Boston Globe in 1993 that Malcolm X was "essential viewing".[7] William Hageman wrote in the Chicago Tribune in 2011 that the documentary "does a better job of capturing the times" than Spike Lee's 1992 Malcolm X.[8]

Malcolm X was released on DVD in 2005 as bonus material with the two-disc special edition of Lee's film.[9] In 2012, it was issued on Blu-ray Disc as part of the Blu-ray 20th-anniversary edition of Lee's film.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Italie, Hillel (February 6, 1993). "Documentary gets new life from 'X' film". Kentucky New Era. Retrieved January 16, 2017. 
  2. ^ "The 45th Academy Awards (1973) Winners and Nominees". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved January 16, 2017. 
  3. ^ Rickford, Russell J. (2003). Betty Shabazz: A Remarkable Story of Survival and Faith Before and After Malcolm X. Naperville, Ill.: Sourcebooks. pp. 314–316. ISBN 978-1-4022-0171-4. 
  4. ^ Pristin, Terry (November 15, 1992). "By All Necessary Means: It took producer Marvin Worth 25 years to turn Malcolm X's story into a movie. Why didn't he give up and what made it happen (Besides Spike, of course)". Los Angeles Times. p. 2. Retrieved January 16, 2017. 
  5. ^ Rickford, p. 315.
  6. ^ Thompson, Howard (May 25, 1972). "Movie Review: Malcolm X". The New York Times. Retrieved January 16, 2017. 
  7. ^ Carr, Jay (February 19, 1993). "The original 'Malcolm X': A must-see". The Boston Globe. Retrieved January 16, 2017.  (subscription required)
  8. ^ Hageman, William (February 1, 2011). "Black History Month: How to inspire and teach". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 16, 2017. 
  9. ^ Cook, Brad (March 31, 2005). "Malcolm X". Film Threat. Archived from the original on January 23, 2013. Retrieved January 16, 2017. 
  10. ^ Lumenick, Lou (February 7, 2012). "DVD Extra: Hitch, Woody, Wilder, Wellman go Blu for Oscar promos". New York Post. Retrieved January 16, 2017. 

External links[edit]