Best Martin Luther King Bio-Pic Finally Released on DVD
Two years after Dr. Martin Luther King (1929-1968) was assassinated King: A Filmed Record – Montgomery to Memphis was released in theaters, but for one day only, on March 24, 1970. After that abbreviated theatrical run, the film landed an Academy Award nomination and aired on television before pretty much disappearing into obscurity.
Nonetheless, to this day, the bittersweet bio-pic remains the definitive account of the Civil Rights Movement, subsequent admirable efforts which arrived in its wake, most notably, the PBS series “Eyes on the Prize,” notwithstanding. Shot entirely in black & white, the film combines chronologically unfolding news footage with wistful remembrances by luminaries like Harry Belafonte, Paul Newman and Ruby Dee. The story starts, quite appropriately, with the Montgomery Bus Boycott which was inspired by Rosa Parks’ refusal to surrender her seat to a white man.
From there, the flick follows the rise of the little-known, young Baptist minister who took up her cause. Relying on Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence, Dr. King proceeded to inspire thousands across the South to join him on a path of passive resistance in an attempt to topple the racist Jim Crow system of segregation.
Prophetically, he was felled by a bullet in Memphis the day after warning his followers that he might not get to the Promised Land with them, a thinly-veiled allusion to Moses’ last address to his flock in the Bible. And after wandering lost in the cinematic equivalent of the desert for almost 40 years, King: A Filmed Record – Montgomery to Memphis proves to be a very welcome sight for sore eyes, finally arriving on DVD at this critical moment in American history.
A most memorable testament to Dr. King which stands the test of time, and is worth the investment for Nina Simone’s haunting rendition of “Why (The King of Love Is Dead)” alone, heard as Dr. King’s mule-drawn casket led over 100,000 silent mourners from Ebenezer Baptist Church on a 3½ walk through the streets of Atlanta.
Excellent (4 stars)
Black & White
Running time: 185 minutes
Studio: Richard Kaplan Productions
DVD Extras: Producer’s notes, dramatic readings and a featurette entitled “Legacy of a Dream.”
To hear Nina Simone’s Why (The King of Love Is Dead),
To order a copy of King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis, visit: