Submitted by Julio M

Oscar Nominee – Best Supporting Actor, James Woods; Best Makeup

Short pooper:
Byron De La Beckwith (James Woods) is finally found guilty of first-degree murder in the 1994 retrial of the Medgar Evers (James Pickens Jr.) case and sentenced to life imprisonment, much to the rejoicing of everyone attending the court, both inside and outside the building. Medgar’s widow and activist, Myrtle (Whoopi Goldberg), tearfully celebrates with everyone else how, after all those years of struggle, justice was finally served.

Longer version:
Defying the heavy burden that reopening the controversial case put upon himself and the multiple death threats and intimidations from many people close to De La Beckwith -including De La Beckwith himself, who taunts and mocks him, mid-trial, while they both coincide in the bathroom-, Bobby DeLaughter (Alec Baldwin) moves forward with a new indictment. Although skeptical, Myrlie gives him a vote of confidence and even provides him with a certified transcript of one of the previously failed procedures from the 1960s, which would give DeLaughter a leg-up to read, in court, sworn testimonies of previous witnesses who were no longer alive. He even approaches Medgar’s brother, Charles (Bill Cobbs), as a potential witness, but the man turns it down alluding that, as much as he’d love to help bring justice and proper closure to Medgar, he wouldn’t resist himself to “strangle De La Beckwith, in the middle of court, with his own bare hands”.

The approach doesn’t seem to be that different from how it originally was, back in the 1960s. Except that, this time around, a mixed jury -instead of a fully white one- was in place; DeLaughter gets to use replacement witnesses that help the case, including Delmar Dennis (Jim Harley); and, furthermore, Lloyd Bennett (the son of the original Detective, LC Bennett, playing himself) has the opportunity to read the testimony of his father’s investigation, which plays greatly in their favour. The only thing left to do for DeLaughter, afterwards, is to give an impassioned closing statement, urging the jury to “never feel that it is too late to do the right thing”.

After some deliberation, the jury finds De La Beckwith guilty of first-degree murder and he dejectedly hears his sentencing to life imprisonment. A bailiff whispers, through his mic, “Guilty”, and expectant people outside burst into joyful screaming, as attendees inside the court did. Shortly after, Myrtle and DeLaughter join the crowd outside and, when asked about her impression of the outcome, she tearfully answers “Yay, Medgar, we did it!!”. Charles smiles from a distance and walks away.

Title cards inform that (up to the movie’s release) De La Beckwith tried to appeal the decision -it was upheld in 1997 and he died in prison in 2001-; Bobby DeLaughter lost the race to become District Attorney; and Myrlie continued actively working through the NAACP, to further the memory and efforts of Medgar.

02 hours 10 minutes