Successful New York attorney Sam Leibowitz travels to the South in 1933 to defend nine young black men accused of raping two women on an Alabama freight train. In the spring of 1931 nine black hoboes were pulled off an Alabama freight train and arrested for allegedly raping two young white women in a gondola car. Ranging in ages from twelve to twenty years, they were quickly tried and sentenced to the electric chair. News of their convictions spread and the plight of the Scottsboro Boys became a cause celebre that fueled the fire of socialism worldwide, forcing an appeal to the United States Supreme Court and resulting in new trials for all nine defendants. New Yorker Samuel Leibowitz, a savvy and self-assured defense lawyer with an impressive string of courtroom victories, agreed to represent the accused at their retrials in Decatur, Alabama. His journey into the Deep South symbolized the polarity of the times and set in motion a legal battle that ultimately changed the course of American jurisprudence. The Scottsboro case was a tragic chapter in American history and a story of epic injustice. From their arrest in 1931 to the release of the last Scottsboro defendant in 1950, the rights of nine young black men were violated. In this century in America, we face many of the same racial prejudices and human rights issues that existed almost seventy-five years ago. The names have changed, but the rhetoric that convicted the Scottsboro Nine remains virtually the same. Heavens Fall attempts to examine the cultural and political differences that divide us. It is my hope that by looking into the hearts and minds of the Scottsboro participants, black and white, North and South, powerful and impoverished, we may come to a better understanding of each other.
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This review is from: Heavens Fall (DVD) Although the cinematic quality of this DVD was excellent, we had to return it to Amazon, as the only language offered in the subtitles menu was Spanish. This was not delineated in the product description. We need to view our DVD's with English subtitles. This is an issue to watch for in future, apparently.
The movie was very thought-provoking! I never knew African-Americansweren't allowed on jury duty during the 1930s. It truly amazes me justhow stupid and ignorant the white people were back then! For thesewhite me to convict a man of rape, recommend the electric chair as thepunishment, and then exit the courtroom with smiles on their faces justangers me to no end!!! I hope God has sent these men to hell, wherethey belong! To whomever made this film, thank you. You've reallyopened my eyes to the problems this country has had with racism! (Notto say I didn't already have a good idea!) I will never share the samebeliefs of my ancestors!!!!! Justice is for all, no matter what skincolor they possess!
This is an excellent remake of the excellent original entitled "Judge Horton and the Scottsboro Boys" with Arthur Hill as the Judge with a conscience. In my opinion, both movies rate five stars in being well-written and acted. Both kept the story true to course. I won't rehash the content, for it's been quite-well done already
Great acting-- Timoty Hutton is intriguing, always looks like he's thinking. David Strathairn played the part of a judge to perfection-- forceul yet reserved. Azura Skye completely won me over. Beautiful cinematography, captured the feel of the deep south. Shot on a relatively low budget (less than two million), this is a brilliant work. I wish it had been longer. There was so much more I wanted to know about the characters. The DVD has some great features, including two documentaries.Be sure to check out The Greatest White Trash Love Story Ever Told
This review is from: Heavens Fall (DVD) Great cast, One of Timothy Hutton's best fims. Story line of a racially charged event played well. Thumbs up overall.
this film is awesome, the story is breathtaking, the actors wonderful.I saw it at the Midwest Screening and the theater was completelyspellbound. It has the heart and soul of "To Kill a Mockingbird". Thescenery is so beautiful and interesting. The storyline is inspiring. Nowonder Timothy Hutton chose to take this role, his character is smart,courageous and in this current political climate he is a hero for us.The rest of the cast wonderful, realistic and also multidimensional.The historical representation is authentic and yet very creative. Youleave the movie inspired. What more can you ask for? Thank you formaking such a thoughtful and entertaining film!! I know it will go far.
Heaven's Fall film was the debut for John W. Brooks. He played JudgeHawkins, the original sentencing Judge.Mr. Brooks is an upcoming actor with true raw talent. His part wasshort, but his presence was a commanded performance. We look forward toseeing him in other great films.Our thanks to director Terry Green for putting on such a wonderfulproduction. We look forward to seeing the film in theaters.I would like to also note that Timothy Hutton is one of our favoriteactors. I really enjoy his style of acting and think having him in thefilm will make it a true success.Great job and good luck to all the cast!
As a featured extra on the film, jury foreman, I very much enjoyedworking on the film. Everyone was very very good to work with. I havedone theater but this was my first film in front of the camera.EVERYONE was really great!!! Not only on camera but behind the scenesthey were all wonderful people. The actors and crew were all very nice,helpful and understanding of the mistakes we made as non professionals.I have worked with other directors and Terry is one of the best.We here in Monroeville would love to give them a very special thanksfor all the things they did to help save the courthouse and the otherwork they did before and after hurricane Ivan.
Heavens Fall is really one of those hidden gems, I highly recommend it especially for teachers to show in the classroom. My main reason for writing this review though is just to let potential buyers know that this film was shot at a ratio of 2.35:1 and is presented on DVD at 1.85:1. It's only really noticeable in a few scenes, one of them being when the prosecutor is questioning the defendant for a short time both of them are cropped at the edges of the frame. It's not a deal breaker but you might want to rent the DVD first, if you check out the special features on the disc the film clips used are 2.35:1 for comparison.
I saw the film on TV today and found it fascinating and shocking.I agree with the opinion of the majority of the other reviewers thatthe cast was excellent. *** This review may contain spoilers ***I am confused that Author: Robert J. Maxwell (firstname.lastname@example.org)from Deming, New Mexico, USA wrote:"Liebowitz, without his knowing, may have helped lose the case himself.In a cafÃ©, seeing a black girl waiting for a lunch to be handed to herto take out because she's not admitted into the cafÃ©. Liebowitz stridesover to her, hands her the paper bag, slams down the payment on thecounter, and shouts, "What kind of people ARE you?" That's no way toendear yourself to the community from which the jurors are drawn."This is not how the scene was in the version I saw. In the version I saw, Liebowitz sees the girl waiting outside the doorand the waitress takes a very, very long time to bother to deliver thepaper bag to her outside the door and collect her payment. Thisillustrates how little regard the waitress has for a black child.
I loved this movie, the acting, the story, the injustice. In fact I wasso moved that I decided to learn more about the true case. Thensomething strange happened, upon reading the actual court testimony anduncovering the actual facts, these guys looked awful guilty to me.The movie would have you believe that trial after trial ended withconviction solely because of white prejudice. While it is true thatthere was a lynch mob, and far more prejudice in the south back thenthan now, the facts of the case totally justify why jury after juryfound these men guilty. The only valid point made by the defense wasthat the jury was all white (which is why this case got nationalattention). The movie fails to mention that the national attention cameat the funding of the Communist party who exploited the all white juryto make it seem like the defendants were getting an unfair trial. Themovie also didn't mention that Ruby Bates was very well taken care ofby the Communist party to recant her testimony.If you don't believe me, read the trial transcripts for yourself. Youwill see that these girls gave amazing details when describing how theywere raped and who raped them. The most damning forensic evidence wasthat the girl's vaginas were loaded with sperm (far more than from oneman). While the sperm was found to be non-motile (as in the movie) themovie insinuated that sperm can remain motile for up to 24 hours; whenin reality vaginal sperm will remain motile for two to three hours (sixhours in some very rare cases).It also didn't make sense that Victoria Price would stick to her storyuntil her dying day when it was obvious that Ruby didn't change herstory until paid off and instructed to do so by the Communist party. Infact shortly after the trial Ruby remained in a life of luxury,supported by the Communist party. The movie would also have you believethat Ruby Bates fought for the release of these boys for the rest ofher life due to sheer guilt. However, the facts bear out that RubyBates did so as an active member of the International Labor Defensecampaign and used the trials publicity to help promote Communistrhetoric.The movie was great, but a more accurate portrayal of the truth (ratherthan a politically correct con game) would have been more appreciated.
"Heavens Fall" tells the story of the Scottsboro Boys, nine black men who were convicted of raping two white women in Alabama in the early 1930's. New York defense attorney Samuel Leibowitz travels to Decatur, AL to defend the men in a retrial ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court.Timothy Hutton gives a riveting performance as Samuel Leibowitz - Hutton's best since his equally fine portrayal of Archie Goodwin in "Nero Wolfe." Bill Sage as prosecuting attorney Thomas Knight, Jr. and David Strathairn as Judge Horton are also excellent in their roles. Bill Smitrovich as co-defense attorney, Maury Chaykin in a cameo role, Francie Swift as Leibowitz' wife, Belle, and James Tolkan as Thomas Knight, Sr. (four other great "Nero Wolfe" actors) were exceptional, too, as was B.J. Britt, as Haywood Patterson, in his film debut. LeeLee Sobieski and Azura Skye as Victoria Price and Ruby Bates were marvelous in their extremely difficult roles.The score by Tony Llorens was haunting - a perfect accompaniment for the plot and the beautiful cinematography by Paul Sanchez.Nero Wolfe - The Complete Classic Whodunit Series
I had the great pleasure of seeing the East Coast Premiere of "HeavensFall" at the Stony Brook Film Festival, Long Island, NY on July 20,2006.Timothy Hutton gave a riveting performance as defense attorney SamuelLeibowitz. In my opinion it was his best since his equally fineportrayal of Archie Goodwin in "Nero Wolfe." Bill Sage as prosecutingattorney Thomas Knight, Jr. and David Strathairn as Judge Horton werealso excellent in their roles. Bill Smitrovich as co-defense attorney,Maury Chaykin in a cameo role as a bigoted insurance salesman, FrancieSwift as Leibowitz' wife, Belle, and James Tolkan as Thomas Knight, Sr.(four other "Nero Wolfe" actors) were exceptional, too, as was B.J.Britt, Haywood Patterson, in his film debut. LeeLee Sobieski and AzuraSkye as Victoria Price and Ruby Bates were marvelous in their extremelydifficult roles.The score by Tony Llorens was haunting - a perfect accompaniment forthe plot and the beautiful cinematography by Paul Sanchez. This fine movie with its superb acting, splendid score, and beautifulcinematography had only been seen in the US by festival audiences, butit is now available to a broader audience. (US DVD release, November 6,2007) The DVD includes two "behind the scenes" documentaries by CharleyRivkin with additional footage by Adam Witt. The first, "Creating TheFall," includes interviews with Terry Green, Timothy Hutton, Bill Sage,David Strathairn, Anthony Mackie, LeeLee Sobieski, and Azura Skye withtheir thoughts on the movie and the subject matter. The second,"Surviving The Fall," is about the difficulties the cast and crewendured and heroics they performed when Hurricane Ivan interrupted thefilming of "Heavens Fall."
I liked the movie a lot, and when I saw that it was inspired by a truestory, well that got me thinking: 1 Is that possible that someone evenone person could do such a thing without any remorse's? 2 If it'spossible than can't we really do anything to stop and prevent such anawful act from happening? 3 And last but not least, are there stillplaces not only in U.S. but on earth were such a thing is stillpossible? I understand that it's in their culture to HATE the blackcommunity, it's their educations foul, from father to son and so on andso fourth,but really,come on wake up... This of course applies to thepast but I'm afraid that it's appliable in our present to.
I had the pleasure of seeing the world premiere of Heavens Fall at theAustin's Paramount Theatre as part of the SXSW film festival. It is apowerful film about the great injustices that occurred during theinfamous Scottsboro trial of nine black men accused of raping two whitewomen in Alabama in the 1930s.While this story has been told before in a 1976 NBC TV movie, JudgeHorton and the Scottsboro Boys (which I haven't seen and which Isuspect would be pretty difficult, if not impossible to find on VHS orDVD today) and more recently in the powerful PBS documentary,Scottsboro: An American Tragedy, it's a story worth telling again foreach new generation.A film like recent Best Picture winner, Crash, reminds us that racismstill exists in our society today. A film like Heavens Fall provideshistorical context and reminds us of the slow progress that has beenmade since the days of the Jim Crow South. This film reminds me ofother recent films that have reminded us of some of the other tragicepisodes of past racism such as Mississippi Burning, Amistad, and,particularly, the marvelous film, Rosewood. As with all films of thisgenre, some events and characters have been fictionalized in an attemptto capture of the spirit of the story rather than all of the detail.Heavens Fall features first-rate performances by Timothy Hutton as theJewish New York lawyer who travels to Alabama to defend the 9 blackmen, David Strathairn as the the trial judge, and Bill Sage as theprosecutor. The movie moves a bit slowly. The lead characters,including the prosecutor, are presented as human beings taking awayfrom the stereotyping of white southerners which is quite easy in thistype of film. It's occasionally a little predictable and clichÃ©d -something almost unavoidable with this genre. Ironically, I think thatmore could have been done to develop the African-American characters.The accused are not really presented in great depth and the one blackcharacter, a journalist, seems a bit extraneous to the plot of thestory. Still, basically a good job is done in presenting the maincharacters as human beings struggling for truth and justice as theydefine it in a highly imperfect world.At our world premiere screening, the director and many of the actorswere present and spoke about the making of the film. Timmothy Huttonwas unable to attend, but as the director and other actors werespeaking to the audience, Hutton phoned into to the director's cellphone to receive loud cheers from the audience and answer a fewquestions via cellphone to microphone. The film was clearly a labor oflove by the director and actors. I hope that it finds a distributor andis seen widely, because Americans need to see the realities of theirhistory in order to learn from it.
There is much about this film that makes it a good film, the cast areall very good and seem perfect in their respective roles. There aremany different emotions and ways of thinking being portrayed and thisis all done really well. In many ways this film reminds me of 'A timeto kill', but it is shocking to think that the events portrayed reallyhappened, and not that far into the past either. The racism andsegregation that existed in the southern states of the USA are in manyways worse than apartheid in South Africa. To think that otherwiseintelligent, moral and well mannered people can have such idiotic viewsregarding people of a different colour is astounding and America shouldbe deeply ashamed of this. I wonder what some of the real people asportrayed in this film now think of their Black President? I wouldrecommend this film to anyone who enjoyed 'A time to kill' or 'To killa mocking bird'.
I had never heard of this film. Indeed, it received very little publicity or theater time when it was released in 2006. But it was on cable TV last night and I was intrigued by its theme - an historical drama of the second trial of 9 young black men (aged 12 to 19) accused of raping two white women in Scottsboro, Alabama. They were sentenced to death in 1931 but, in a case brought by the International Labor Defense organization to the Supreme Court, the sentence was overturned and a new trial was granted. A New York lawyer, Samuel Liebowitz, joined the Labor Defense team and went down South for the retrial in 1933. This film was about that trial.I must say I had to refrain myself from running to my computer to research the case because I wanted my experience of the film to be fresh. I'm glad I did that because it added to the tension as I wasn't sure what the outcome would be. The director did a good job of setting the time and the place. The historical detail seemed perfect and the New York attorney reminded me a lot of photos of my own father in the early 1930s. For example, all the men wore hats and shirts and ties.Most of the film took place at the trial but there was one recurring scene at a diner which showed a young black girl waiting patiently at the back door for an order of food while she is being ignored by the waitress. The Southerners are not all depicted as bad. In this film the prosecuting attorney and the New York lawyer are staying at the same hotel. The southern lawyer is on track to someday become Governor. He is intrigued by the New Yorker and they sort of bond. But then the trial begins and its no holds barred. There is also a young black newspaper reporter from Chicago who has come down South for the trial. He has to create a petition to be permitted to sit in the courtroom. Through his eyes we see some serious discrimination although we never really get to know any of the Scotsboro boys on trial.I loved the courtroom scenes. I was at the edge of my seat. What was going to happen? Was this injustice ever going to be reconciled? I finally found out at the end and it was only then that I researched it more deeply on my computer.This was a good film, low budget and well made. I wish it was more widely distributed especially because it is a piece of history.
Heavens Fall is quite the predictable courtroom drama. As someone who only likes the occasional courtroom scene with a lot of actual storytelling surrounding it... well as you can probably guess, this movie left me completely bored. It's nothing BUT a lengthy courtroom scene, and not a particularly suspenseful one either.Furthermore, storyline-wise it does absolutely nothing you haven't already heard a million times already. Of course a white lawyer choosing to defend a group of African Americans in Alabama during the 1930's will face heavy criticism. It happens predictably. Of course everyone on the jury is white and will choose to stand up for a white girl. Remember, back then color issues were quite dominant. Nice try on the part of the writers to make women look less intelligent back then, though. I mean that as strictly sarcasm. My biggest grip is the fact it's a courtroom drama with very little in the way of suspense, and *especially* very little in way of standing out from the countless other courtroom dramas that have been released over the years. Only occasionally would the arguments become heated enough to catch my interest. If it's based on a real event, well, talk about one really uninteresting event.Otherwise this is a very boring, ordinary take on the 1930 Alabama days. Of course it's also likely that the events have been exaggerated by way of the acting from the actors and actresses. I wasn't there (in Alabama) back in the 30's, so I wouldn't know exactly what the people were like.
Nothing spectacular about this movie. The actors played their parts asthough they were there just for the money. The good thing about themovie was how it portrayed the bigot and racial hatred practiced by ourfine USA citizens. And, went on as though their lies were the truth andwith the conviction that no one could prove their lies to be false andprejudicial. I cannot say more about this movie and I yet do not haveenough information to meet the required amount of sentences for theIMDb. So the rest of my presentation will be meaningless jargon. Youmay stop reading at any point. Mary had a little lamb. It's fleece waswhite as snow.
This review is from: Heavens Fall (DVD) Everybody should know the story of the Scottsboro 9 (you can Wikipedia it). This movie does not tell the whole story and I really have no quibble with it except they should have pointed out that Judge Horton could have dismissed the case for lack of evidence in 1933. If you add up the sentences of the nine boys, later men, it's over 100 years. The last Scottsboro boy incarcerated, Patterson, escaped in 1948 from hard labor on a chain gang, out on a road somewhere, just like in O Brother. All of the Nine were incarcerated, beaten up, shot in the head, etc., for at least six years. One boy was being transported and got into a scuffle in the car and a deputy shot him in the head. The Communist Party started sending them food and so on. The guards really hated them. At one point they were put in a private prison which had been declared unfit for prisoners because of the rats, bedbugs, etc. No air conditioning in the South at this time, obviously. They also were in a room right next to the death chamber. It would be as if you had a bathroom next to your bedroom and occasionally the guards took someone from your (large) bedroom and fried him in the electric chair in the bathroom, and probably you had heard his story and maybe you thought he was also innocent.Anyway, Judge Horton's not doing the right thing and dismissing the case is probably glossed over because the movie makers wanted the audience to have a hero. The case ended Judge Horton's career and he was extremely erudite (you can read his written opinion of the case, accompanying his judgment to set aside, in books about the Scottsboro Nine and no doubt online somewhere), so it was a waste. He lived there for 30 more years and he should have been a judge all that time.He should have dismissed because there was no evidence whatsoever. In the second trial Ruby Bates said she had only been corroborating what Victoria Price said because she, Ruby, was intimidated and thought it best to do what Victoria said, "Follow my lead." In fact nobody had raped her or Victoria. Plus Leibowitz pointed out that the other eyewitnesses in the first Scottsboro Nine case had not been able to see the train.The actress who played Victoria Price should have made herself even uglier and more belligerent, like Charlize Theron in Monster. They should have made it plain that Victoria Price had been a prostitute for white and black men for years and had been transporting Ruby Bates, a minor, across state lines for the purposes of making money as prostitutes and had been in prison for fornication. (Something I read said some of the hobos were glad to go to jail to get something to eat so I am not sure how hard her jail sentence was.) Update: I have been doing some more reading and the person who started all this trouble, Victoria Price, was 27. She lied and said she was 21. She was afraid she was going to get into trouble for transporting a minor across state lines to make money as prostitutes. Ruby Bates was 17. It's called the Mann Act. She must have been a prostitute for over a decade. Nobody in that tiny cotton mill town could survive on what they made at the mill. The Aileen Wuornos story also shows how hardened someone becomes after years of being a prostitute. So I don't think LeeLee Sobieski should have been cast because she looked so fresh and innocent. Her acting was fine. The sheriff and the deputy from that tiny town were called in as character witnesses by Mr. Leibowitz and both said Victoria Price was a complete liar. Update: The code of the South required the lynch mob to be at the train stop just because the black boys threw the white boys off the train. No black person was allowed to get away with raising a hand to a white person. Obviously the mob would be even more likely to lynch the black boys/men accused of rape. So when Victoria Price called "Rape!" she was essentially saying, "I'll show you how to put these [word omitted] in their place -- I'll say they raped me." This is in addition to her wanting to keep them from investigating her hobo-ing, which is punishable as vagrancy, and pimping for Ruby Bates. Victoria had never been "the fair flower of Southern gentility" before and must have been a sociopath (consequences to other people don't enter a sociopath's mind).If the boys who had a fistfight had been white and the ones who got thrown off the train had walked to the nearest sheriff's office and said they wanted to file a charge of assault, the sheriff probably would have said they'll get away before we catch them and I'm liable to charge all of you with vagrancy, so go away and quit bothering me.I also think if "The Haywood Patterson Story" was made into a movie, a young Laurence Fishburne would have looked just like him. Just goes to show how superficial people are! In other words, Haywood Patterson did look kind of aggressive. If he had looked like Anthony Anderson and had not started slugging it out with the white guy who evidently tripped him or whom Patterson tripped or however it started, the whole thing would not have happened. Patterson did spend the longest time in jail, from the time of the alleged assault, March 1931, through his escape in 1948. Then he was re-arrested and died in jail of cancer in 1952.If I am saying Patterson was "guilty" of being "mean-looking," please forgive me as I am contrasting it with one of the other guys who was blind in one eye and only had about 25% of normal vision in the other eye and was hobo-ing from place to place trying to earn money to buy glasses so he could rejoin the human race. Would have been better for him if he had been a blind hermit.