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January 05, 2008

The Great Debaters

Thegreatdebaters Set in 1935, the same year as John Sayles' Southern drama "The Honeydripper," this by-the-book history lesson about the Jim Crow South from director/actor Denzel Washington tells of a debate team at an all-black college in East Texas that became the first black debaters to square off against Harvard. Denzel Washington commands the movie as Melvin B. Tolson, the Wiley College English professor and socialist labor organizer who lead his team of four students to harness the power of language and history in the debate format. For all of its toothpaste dramatic license, "The Great Debators" hits its emotional marks with help from Forest Whitaker and a talented ensemble cast that includes Nate Parker, Jurnee Smollett, and newcomer Denzel Whitaker.

Rated PG-13, 127 mins. (B-) (Three Stars)

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