King (TV Mini-Series 1978)

TV Mini-Series   |    |  Biography, Drama

Episode Guide
King (1978) Poster

The story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., stretching from his days as a Southern Baptist minister up to his assassination in Memphis in 1968.

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14 November 2018 | bkoganbing
| "I've been to the mountaintop and I've seen the promised land"
Ten years after his assassination, this fine mini-series documents the adult life and times of Martin Luther King who despite some other fine folks in the field is recognized as premier among the black civil rights leaders. So acknowledged by the fact it is his birthday that is now a national holiday.

Paul Winfield with one magnificent voice captures the cadence and rhythm of Martin Luther King's poetical style of preaching. His abilities as an actor cover the inner emotions and the reasons that King is moved to do the work he did.

From being a newly minted minister and suitor for the hand of Coretta Scott played by Cicely Tyson we see the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s progress through the eyes of its titular leader.

In the supporting cast I like both William Jordan and Cliff DeYoung as the contrasting personalities of the brothers Kennedy. Jordan as the cool John F. Kennedy and DeYoung as the passionate Robert F. Kennedy. DeYoung really got the accent down impressively.

Martin Luther King certainly did have a private life and if he's regarded for sainthood by some it's for his achievements in advancing civil rights as opposed to any kind of probity in his private life. I doubt most could have stood up to the intense scrutiny he was under Said scrutiny was ordered by that most misanthropic of men in the last century J. Edgar Hoover the 48 year head of the FBI. Things that disturbed the social order like the civil rights movement got Hoover's attention. He spent his last years looking to discredit the movement quite unsuccessfully, but doing a lot of damage along the way. There's a quiet evil in the way Dolph Sweet portrayed him.

In fact some of the private behavior of King is shown in those documented moments before he's shot on a motel balcony in Memphis. You see him among his colleagues there in some down time and these guys could be a salty and rough house bunch, divinity degree notwithstanding.

One thing that did not make me happy was the elimination of Bayard Rustin from the story. I'm thinking Roscoe Lee Browne as Philip Harrison is Rustin and he's as eloquent as I remember him. I actually did meet him during the gay rights struggle in New York City when Rustin finally made it official. In 1978 his gay story was still a hush hush matter. Had King the mini-series been made in 1988 the year after Rustin died he no doubt would have been there in name as well as fact.

The best thing about King is that it makes the civil rights struggle of the time quite real and relevant. You understand the indignities that some minorities have heaped upon them. After that you just might make the connection for all minorities. If that happens you will have been to the mountaintop and seen the promised land.

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Plot Summary


Biography | Drama

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