Thurgood Marshall (July 2,1908 – January 24, 1993) was the first African American Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (October 1967 – October 1991). Prior to becoming a Supreme Court Justice, he successfully argued before the Supreme Court on the landmark case, “Brown v. Board of Education.” This film is a true story which takes place in the 1940s, when Marshall (Chadwick Boseman) defends Joseph Spell (Sterling K. Brown), an African American accused of raping and then attempting to murder a white Connecticut socialite, Eleanor Strubing (Kate Hudson).
Marshall is working for the NAACP and travels all over the U.S. defending innocent African Americans. Spell claims “I never laid a hand on that woman,” so Marshall decides to defend him. Marshall is not licensed to practice in Conn., so he needs a Conn.-licensed lawyer to help him. Due to some unlikely circumstances, a Jewish insurance lawyer without any murder litigation experience, Sam Friedman (Josh Gad), winds up being the other attorney. The judge on the case (James Cromwell), which is being tried in nearly-all-white Bridgeport, is obviously biased against Spell. Friedman does the jury selection (which winds up being all white) and all the direct and cross examinations with Marshall coaching him from the bench. In addition to the case being a suspenseful and fascinating one with some unexpected twists and turns, the relationship between Marshall and Friedman is a complex and interesting one.
The movie, although historical, is very entertaining and is much like a terrific Perry Mason episode. The ensemble cast is excellent, especially Kate Hudson, who is apparently a much better actor than I had previously realized.
I’d “Marshall” your resources and see it soon, since it probably won’t be at the theater very long.