The Greatest (1977 film)
Theatrical release poster by John Solie
|Directed by||Tom Gries|
|Produced by||John Marshall|
|Written by||Muhammad Ali (short)|
Herbert Muhammad &
Richard Durham (book)
Ring Lardner, Jr.
James Earl Jones
|Music by||Michael Masser|
|Cinematography||Harry Stradling, Jr.|
|Edited by||Byron Brandt|
|19 May 1977|
|Box office||$3.8 million (US rentals)|
The Greatest is a 1977 biographical sports film about the life of boxer Muhammad Ali, in which Ali plays himself. It was directed by Tom Gries. The film follows Ali's life from the 1960 Summer Olympics to his regaining the heavyweight crown from George Foreman in their famous "Rumble in the Jungle" fight in 1974. The footage of the boxing matches themselves are largely the actual footage from the time involved.
- Muhammad Ali as Himself
- Ernest Borgnine as Angelo Dundee
- John Marley as Dr. Ferdie Pacheco
- Lloyd Haynes as Herbert Muhammad
- Robert Duvall as Bill McDonald
- David Huddleston as Cruikshank
- Ben Johnson as Hollis
- James Earl Jones as Malcolm X
- Dina Merrill as Velvet Green
- Roger E. Mosley as Sonny Liston
- Paul Winfield as Draft Lawyer
- Annazette Chase as Belinda Ali
- Mira Waters as Ruby Sanderson
- Drew Bundini Brown as Himself
- Malachi Throne as Payton Jory
- Richard Venture as Colonel Cedrich
- Arthur Adams as Cassius Clay Sr
- Stack Pierce as Johnson
- Paul Mantee as Carrara
- Skip Homeier as the Major
- David Clennon as the Captain
- Nai Bonet as Suzie Gomez
- Chip McAllister as young Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali
There are many uncredited roles in the film including some major characters, such as Ruby Sanderson and his girlfriend, Belinda Board, who became his wife, and Herbert Mohammed, son of Elijah Muhammad, who was Ali's manager at one point.
|1.||"The Greatest Love of All" (George Benson)||Linda Creed||5:32|
|2.||"I Always Knew I Had It in Me" (Benson; version 1)||Gerry Goffin||7:14|
|3.||"Ali's Theme" (Masser)||—||5:18|
|1.||"Ali Bombaye (Zaire Chant) I" (Masser and Mandrill)||—||3:42|
|2.||"Ali Bombaye (Zaire Chant) II" (Masser and Mandrill)||—||3:00|
|3.||"The Greatest Love of All" (Masser)||—||3:14|
|4.||"Variations on Theme" (Masser)||—||2:34|
|5.||"I Always Knew I Had It in Me" (Benson; version 2)||Goffin||5:21|
Vincent Canby of The New York Times called the film "a charming curio of a sort Hollywood doesn't seem to make much anymore." Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times called the film "potent pop biography, lively and entertaining, in which the irrepressible world's heavyweight boxing champion projects exactly the image he wants us to have." Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film 2.5 stars out of 4 and wrote, "As a diverting entertainment, 'The Greatest' is more than satisfactory." Arthur D. Murphy of Variety wrote that Ali brought the film "an authority and a presence that lift John Marshall's production above some of the limitations inherent in any film bio." David Badder of The Monthly Film Bulletin stated, "The Greatest delivers exactly what one would expect: a hagiographical account of Ali's best-known exploits, giving full rein to the inimitable, volatile personality but in the process applying liberal coats of whitewash."
- "Big Rental Films of 1977". Variety: 21. January 4, 1978.
- Canby, Vincent (May 21, 1977). "The Greatest (1977) Ali's Latest Victory Is 'The Greatest'". The New York Times.
- "The Greatest". www.nytimes.com.
- Lucas, Bob (11 November 1976). "Angry McKee Quits Greatest And Goes To Pryor Film". Jet. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
- "People: June Allyson to wed; Gershwin home saved". Ottawa Citizen. 27 October 1976. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
- Canby, Vincent (May 21, 1977). "Ali's Latest Victory Is 'The Greatest'". The New York Times. p. 13.
- Thomas, Kevin (May 19, 1977). "Ali Piles Up Points in 'Greatest'". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 14.
- Siskel, Gene (May 23, 1977). "'The Greatest' isn't the greatest, but takes an entertaining jab at it". Chicago Tribune. Section 3, p. 9.
- Murphy, Arthur D. (May 25, 1977). "Film Reviews: The Greatest". Variety. 21.
- Badder, David (September 1977). "The Greatest". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 44 (524): 192.