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Print Resources

Graham, Allison. "Civil Rights Films and The New Red Menance: The Legacy of the 1960s." Framing the South. Baltimore: John Hopkins UP, 2001. 147-93.
Michael Mann's film is set mostly in the South during the middle of the racial equality movement of the 1960s. Graham's chapter is an in-depth look at the way the civil rights movement is portrayed in Hollywood cinema. The chapter deals with popular, modern attempts to recreate the civil rights struggle, and the issues involved in the recreation process. She looks at the visual historical evidence -- photojournalism and film clips -- and compares it to the representation on television and in theaters, and, at this, she notices the latter is often milder and easier to stomach.
Guerrero, Edward. Framing Blackness: The African-American Image in Film. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1993.
This book takes a chronological look at the way blacks have been represented in popular film. Guerrero discusses the "representation of blackness" that filmmakers and directors convey -- intentionally or unknowningly, and Guerrero argues that the image has evolved over the history of the cinema. He argues that black representation in film remained somewhat negative until the 1980s. Guerrero also specifially deals with Spike Lee's Malcolm X.
Jahen, Frederic Cople. "White America Views Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, and Muhammad Ali." Sport in America: New Historical Perspectives. Ed. Donald Spivey. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1985. 145-92.
This article is largely concerned with the reception -- or rejection -- of black champion prizefighters.  Jahen discusses the different images the three boxers amassed, then turns to the changing nature of Ali's image.  First, Jahen argues, Ali was  a favorable, clean-cut young man, but after winning the title and joining a threatening movement, this image was destroyed.  Jahen continues to describe how White America perceived Ali thoughout his Supreme Court battle.  This article introduces the problem of images and their unsteady nature.
Rocchio, Vincent F. Reel Racism: Confronting Hollywood's Construction of Afro-American Culture. Boulder: Westview Press, 2000.
As the title suggests, Rocchio argues that there are numerous forms of racism that produce negative black images on screen.  He looks at the problem of mis-representation of blacks as an improving phenomenon and ultimately decides that a period of resistance -- by blacks -- to negative black images took place in the 1980s.
Sammons, Jeffrey T. Beyond the Ring: The Role of Boxing in American Society. Urbana and Chicago: U of Illinois P, 1990.
This article does a few things well.  First, it explains the Nation of Islam as a movement.  Second, it describes some of the power-rifts in the movement.  It also shows the media reaction toward the Black Muslims.

See Also

Diawara, Manthia. Black American Cinema. London: Routledge, 1993.

Doyle, Kegan. "Muhammad Goes to Hollywood: Michael Mann's Ali as Biopic." Journal of Popular Culture 39.3 (2006): 383-406.

Gaine, Vincent M. Existentialism and Social Engagement in the Films of Michael Mann. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

Haun, Harry. "From Insider to Ringsider: Michael Mann Directs Will Smith as Legendary Ali." Film Journal International 105.1 (2002): 10-12.

Lanning, David. "Ali: Power and Grace." Creative Screenwriting 9.1 (2002): 42, 44, 46.

McCrisken, Trevor, and Andrew Pepper. "From Civil Rights to Black Nationalism?" American History and Contemporary Hollywood Film. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 2005. 160-86.

Rollins, Peter C. The Columbia Companion to American History on Film: How the Movies Have Portrayed the American Past. New York: Columbia UP, 2003.

Rybin, Steven. The Cinema of Michael Mann. Lanham: Lexington, 2007.

Ryfle, Steve. "Ali: Steve Ryfle Speaks with Eric Roth." Creative Screenwriting 9.1 (2002): 41-46.

Wiggins, David K. "Great Speed but Little Stamina: The Historical Debate Over Black Athletic Superiority." The New American History: New Historical Perspectives. Ed. S. W. Pope. Urbana and Chicago: U of Illinois P, 1997. 313-38.

Wootton, Adrian. "The Big Hurt." Sight and Sound 12.3 (2002): 16-18.

Video/Audio Resources

A.K.A. Cassius Clay. Dir. Jim Jacobs. Perf. Richard Kiley. Dvd. MGM, 1970.
Produced when Ali was in his boxing exile period, this film provides a documentary of the beginning of Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali's career.  Through footage and clips, this film chronicles his 1960 Olympic performance, his first victory over Liston, his conversion to Islam, and the beginning of his draft troubles.
The Films of Michael Mann. Dir. Robert J. Emery and Milt Fensen. New York: Winstar Productions, 2001.
Episode of the television series, The Directors.
The Greatest. Dir. Monte Hellman and Tom Gries. Perf. Muhammad Ali and James Earl Jones. Videocassette. Columbia/Tristar Studios, 1977.
This is the benchmark for films about Muhammad Ali, and it was released while Ali was still active in boxing. It is a rather small-budget film, and Muhammad Ali plays himself. This film is about half documentary and half feature film format. Reviewers of Michael Mann's film constantly refer to this film.
I Shook Up the World -- Clay vs. Sonny Liston 1964. Videocassette. Home Box Office Films, 2002.
The fight in this video is Ali's first major title fight. It is the first fight depicted in the Mann film.
Malcolm X. Dvd. Dir. Spike Lee. Perf. Denzel Washington and Angela Bassett. Warner Studios, 1992.
This is the big-budget version of the Malcolm X story.  It chronicles the politically important moments of Malcolm X's life as well as the personally important events.  It is a "first-stop" for any type of research on Malcolm X's history and character. 
Rumble in the Jungle -- Ali vs. Foreman 1974. Videocassette. Home Box Office Films, 2002.
This video is the actual video of  "The Rumble in the Jungle."  Mann spends about thirty minutes of Ali on this epic fight, and it is important to look at the actual event for similarities and differences.
Trailer for the Ali film.
Sense the excitement from the trailer.
When We Were Kings. Dir. Leon Gast. Perf. Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Dvd. Usa Films, 1999.
The film deals with the six weeks leading up to the Ali-Foreman fight in Kinshasa, Zaire.  It also shows the spectacle behind the event: he musical artists, dancers, and media representation of the two boxers.
Will Smith and Muhammad Ali
Smith and Ali ask that not all Muslims be blamed for 9/11.

Online Resources

African Americans in the Movies: A Bibliography of Materials in the UC Berkley Library.
This is an excellent reference tool that identifies hundreds of works about African Americans throughout film history.  The site also has detailed information about popular African American filmakers.
The Black Film Center/Archive Selected List of Film-Related Internet Resources
This is an entire webpage dedicated to blacks in the film industry. It provides links to film black festivals, online websites concerned with blacks in film, and many other helpful resources. This website is a nice starting site for anyone dealing with blacks or black images in film.

Dzenis, Anna. "Michael Mann." Sense of Cinema.

McCarty, John. "Michael Mann." Film Reference.
Facts and analysis of Mann's career.