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Films >> Mississippi Burning (1988) >>

0:00:30 Separate and Unequal
The opening sequence shows a white man and a black boy as they drink from two fountains side by side, one marked "WHITE" and one marked "COLORED." A spiritual song, "Take My Hand Precious Lord," plays softly in the background.
0:01:22 Let the Burning Begin
A Mississippi church is shown slowly but violently burning to the ground.
0:03:09 Three Wrongful Deaths
On the night of June 21st 1964, three civil rights workers, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner, drive on a lonely road. Suddenly, several cars begin tailing them, including the police. The three men are then forced off the road into the woods. Once pulled over, they are harassed, and then shot and killed.
0:08:00 “Mississippi, 1964”/FBI Agents Arrive
We are introduced to the two FBI agents, Rupert Anderson and Alan Ward as they cruise into Jessup County, Mississippi, unable to anticipate the turmoil their investigation will soon cause.
0:10:30 Small Town Sheriff
The agents arrive at the police department and ask about what they believe only to be three missing men. The members of the police department, Sheriff Ray Stuckey and Deputy Clinton Pell, are not at all cooperative, brushing off Agent Ward's questions.
0:13:42 Suspicious Story
Back at the car, Ward and Anderson discuss the details of what the Sheriff told them. The story does not seem to make sense because the three civil rights workers were not allowed to make a phone call when they were taken into custody by the Sheriff's Department.
0:14:56 The Faces of Hate
Ward and Anderson go into a local diner to eat. Instead of waiting, Ward decides to sit in the Blacks only section and receives a dinner full of harsh stares and deafening silence. He begins to ask a black customer some questions, but the boy refuses to answer, too afraid of future repercussions.
0:16:33 Church Burning Site
The agents head to where a church was burned down, where the three civil rights workers were originally coming to setup voter registration clinics for blacks. That turned into an investigation, because the church was unexpectedly burned down.
0:17:36 Questions After the Burning
Ward and Anderson visit an elderly black couple who were at the church at the time of the burning. The woman's husband, unable to speak, was beaten by four white men, most likely KKK members, as he was leaving the church. The woman is unable to identify any of the men, or where the three civil rights workers were going after the incident.
0:18:37 The Klu Klux Klan Strikes
The boy who Ward spoke to in the diner gets harassed by the Klu Klux Klan
0:19:34 A Story of Racism
Anderson and Ward discuss the case back at their motel. Anderson tells a story about how his father killed a neighbor's mule just because he was black.
0:22:34 A Warning Sign
The KKK smash the agents' motel room windows and send the familiar message with their signature, a burning cross implanted on the lawn. Ward decides, against Anderson's wishes, to request more FBI agents to come to Mississippi.
0:23:53 More FBI Agents
More FBI agents arrive at an unused local movie theater to help with the case.
0:24:55 Caught in a Jam
The black boy the KKK had harassed and beaten wakes up in shock and terror in a cage built for animals.
0:25:33 The Meeting
Anderson spots some members of the local Klu Klux Klan going to a meeting. Ward decides to check their plates to figure out their names.
0:26:15 Jawing With Locals
Anderson goes to a local barbershop and meets Mayor Tillman and Sheriff Stuckey; the two warn him about getting too involved in the investigation. The mayor believes the three men are back home "havin' a big laugh" about the whole situation.
0:29:09 Plates Check Out
Agent Bird finds a match on the plates for Ward, and the car belongs to Clayton Townley. Apparently, he is a grand wizard or leader of the Klu Klux Klan group in the area.
0:29:35 Anderson Meets Mrs. Pell
Anderson stops in at a local hair salon owned by Mrs. Pell, wife of Deputy Pell. She wonders if the FBI would even be down there at all if it weren't for the white workers missing.
0:31:34 Stop, Drop, and Roll
The boy from the diner that Ward questioned is thrown out of a car in the middle of town. The local police come and take him off the street. Sheriff Stuckey believes "it ain't right havin' blood on Main Street," because of the way it would look on the evening news, not because he is worried about the boy. Anderson confronts Ward about talking to the kid at the diner.
0:32:56 The Car is Uncovered
The FBI agents are led through a swamp by a Choctaw man who resides there. The car that the three men were driving is found, burned and drowned in water. Ward wants the swamp searched in case their bodies are there, and he orders 100 men to get the job done.
0:35:55 More Reinforcements
As buses full of Navy servicemen roll into town to search for the missing bodies, the KKK do their part by burning churches, homes, and harassing black residents. In addition, more FBI agents are called to help with the case.
0:37:14 The Sheriff’s Alibi
Agent Bird informs Ward that the Sheriff's alibi, that he was a poker game, checks out. The motel's manager also wants the agents out because it is bad for business. Ward suddenly decides to buy the motel for whatever price it takes.
0:38:14 Indifferent Mississippians
Naval officers comb the swamps to find the missing men. As the newscaster gives a rundown of the situation, several white residents are interviewed, and they believe the whole thing to be a hoax and that the men are neither missing nor murdered.
0:39:19 The Sheriff’s Opinion
News reporters force themselves through the police station to ask Sheriff Stuckey questions. He puts the responsibility of missing men on the NAACP, calling it instead "Niggers, Alligators, Apes, Coons and Possums," along with SNCC and COFO. These are all organizations geared towards helping blacks gain civil rights.
0:39:58 Attempts to Get Answers
Ward and Anderson visit a burned church where a group of blacks are meeting and attempts to ask some questions. A black boy named Aaron Williams is one of the few who isn't afraid to speak up and tells the men they should start talking to the sheriff's office if they want some answers.
0:42:03 Laying on the Charm
Deputy Pell and his wife sit quietly at home when Ward and Anderson come to ask questions about the night of the murder. Ward asks Deputy Pell some questions about his whereabouts on June 21st, the night the three men disappeared. Anderson occupies Mrs. Pell in the kitchen with conversation, increasing his interest in her.
0:45:22 Deputy Pell’s Alibi
Ward realizes that for about an hour Deputy Pell is unaccounted for, and now there may be evidence to place him at the scene of the crime.
0:46:09 Anderson on the Lookout
Anderson while in his car, spots Deputy Pell carrying out a clearly intoxicated Mayor Tillman from a local bar.
0:46:47 Another Meeting
Anderson goes to visit Mrs. Pell while her husband is away; he even brings her flowers. They make small talk about their own lives and get into a few details about the case. She claims that her husband was with her during that hour he can't account for, in order to cover his tracks.
0:51:22 Terrorism vs. Prayer
KKK members attack blacks after a church service. They attempt to instill fear in them with beatings and harassment. All the while, Aaron Williams, who is not afraid to speak to the FBI, gets down on his knees and prays when the KKK attack him last.
0:54:06 Intimidating Opinions
More local white Mississippians are interviewed, one woman claiming that blacks "aren't like them," and she also says she believes the three men to be dead. The whites also watch over the swamp search hurling insults and roughing up the media reporters.
0:55:34 Mrs. Pell and the Neighbor
Mrs. Pell speaks to her black neighbor, who is there to take the laundry, while holding the woman's baby. Suddenly, Deputy Pell comes out and breaks the mood, condescendingly commenting, "Funny their kids are so cute, ain't they?"
0:56:29 Mayor Tillman Speaks Out
Mayor Tillman again pretends there is no problem as he wonders, "If the entire Secret Service couldn't protect the president, how in hell are we supposed to protect a few niggras?"
0:56:52 Townley Speaks Out
Clayton Townley is interviewed and, while denying accusations that he is a part of the KKK, spouts hatred and explains the non-acceptance of various religions and races based on the fact that he must "protect Anglo-Saxon democracy."
0:57:48 Racist Opinions
Anderson visits a local spot where the police and KKK members hang out. Anderson threatens the men and Frank Bailey specifically about their attempts to cover up the disappearance. Frank admits to thinking no more of murdering blacks than "wringing a cat's neck" and knows a Mississippi court would not convict him even if he did commit murder.
1:01:56 KKK on Film
Anderson and Ward watch one of the many KKK films speaking against integration.
1:02:28 Confrontation
Ward confronts Anderson on his methods of investigating and the two argue, which shows the strain on their relationship. The FBI is now being accused of using a method of intimidation because of Anderson's latest encounter with KKK members in their hang out.
1:03:23 March on the Town
Blacks along with whites hold a march through town, which results in violence. Angry, racist whites scream insults while police officers rip American flags out of the hands of the black marchers as if they were somehow less American than the whites. Anderson visits Mrs. Pell's salon again during the march.
1:05:42 Stake-Out
Ward and Anderson watch the local police station for any suspicious activity. As a black boy is released from the station, the KKK come and kidnap him while the Sheriff and Deputy calmly watch. The KKK members leave the boy for dead in the woods until the agents finally find him.
1:09:33 Pressing Charges
Ward visits the boy's mother in order for him to press charges on the men that kidnapped him. They, of course, refuse because of the harassment they will later face. Ward figures that this situation was similar the events of June 21st, when the three men were taken into custody and released only to be caught in the clutches of the KKK later that same night.
1:10:46 Interrogation
Ward and Anderson interrogate Deputy Pell but get no new information. As they leave the building, Frank Bailey angrily assaults the reporters.
1:12:32 The Mayor is Angry
Mayor Tillman also confronts the two agents and demands they leave Mississippi.
1:14:00 Watching Mrs. Pell
Anderson watches Mrs. Pell from his car, although they don't speak, there is a silent connection between the two. She also has a look of distress as if she has something she needs to tell him.
1:15:01 Flagrant Injustice
A black boy sees the members of the KKK set a black family's house on fire.
1:16:10 A Witness Speaks
With Anderson's suggestion, he and Ward get the boy who witnessed the fire to testify in court with the help of Aaron Williams.
1:17:16 A Day in Court
The trial in the end lands in favor of the whites with the judge sentencing the guilty men and later suspending the sentences all at the same time.
1:19:29 The Burning Continues
The public court case ignites chaos and mayhem, and more fires are set off within the town. The police, of course, stand by and watch instead of taking any action.
1:20:56 Fiery Lynching
The members of the KKK are at it again as they set another house on fire. As Vertis Williams attempts to stand up to them, they beat him, tie him up to a tree, and lynch him while his son Aaron watches.
1:24:10 Visiting the Remains
The agents visit the charred remains of the burned down farm and house. They argue again about the case.
1:25:47 KKK Rally
Clayton Townley speaks at a KKK rally while the FBI agents search the members' cars.
1:27:42 The Key Witness
Anderson goes once again to see Mrs. Pell at her salon. In the climatic moment of the film, she admits to Anderson where her husband was and the location where the three civil rights workers are buried.
1:31:04 The Bodies are Found
The press, police, and town are in chaos when the bodies of the civil rights workers are brought to the hospital.
1:31:38 The Bodies Arrive at the Hospital
The three bodies are brought to the Jessup County hospital by members of the sheriff's office. Sheriff Stuckey also warns Deputy Pell that he should mind what his wife is saying to the police.
1:33:00 Repercussions
Deputy Pell beats his wife, which leads her to be placed in the hospital because he finally figured out that she told Anderson where the bodies were.
1:33:47 Some Bad News
Ward gets a call that Mrs. Pell is in the hospital.
1:34:41 At the Hospital
Anderson and Ward fight their final battle and Ward finally decides to do things Anderson's way, by going after each of the men that committed the murder.
1:37:00 Eulogy for the Deceased
The blacks in the town come together for a funeral service. The eulogist expresses his anger about the fact that the black civil rights worker is not allowed to be buried in the same cemetery as the two whites who were also murdered. He says the three men may be different on the outside, but their "bloodshed" runs red, and is all the same in the end.
1:39:08 Real Intimidation
Anderson has one of his men capture Mayor Tillman and threaten to do to him what KKK members did to another black boy. The mayor eventually cracks under pressure and gives the information they need.
1:42:26 Useful Information
Ward and Anderson now have some useful information about who was at the scene of the crime and who committed the actual murder. Ward knows that the information received through violence will not be able to be used in court, but Anderson believes that the court will only prosecute based on violation of civil rights not murder charges.
1:43:52 Staging a Setup
Ward and Anderson attempt to set up the men involved with the murder by staging a fake meeting, but it fails.
1:45:29 Going After Lester Cowen
The agents then go to Lester Cowen's shop to get information out of him with Mayor Tillman's testimony. They take him for a drive and explain that they have enough information on him to take him to court. They later drop him in the black part of town.
1:48:18 Deputy Pell Meets His Match
Anderson and Ward find Deputy Pell in the barbershop; Anderson threatens him and beats him until he is unconscious.
1:51:09 A Taste of Their Own Medicine
The FBI stages a fake kidnapping and attempt to make it look like they will kill Lester. He believes that the KKK is now after him, so he decides to give up information.
1:54:31 Judgment Day
Each of the men involved are finally taken to court but only charged with violation of civil rights laws, not murder. Only seven of them receive about three to ten years imprisonment, and some are not even charged at all.
1:56:36 Mayor Tillman Cracks Under Pressure
Ward and Anderson discover Mayor Tillman has committed suicide in his home.
1:57:36 The Last Visit
Anderson visits Mrs. Pell for the last time and finds her house completely ransacked.
2:00:13 "Walk On!"/End Credits
The film comes to a close with Anderson and Ward leaving, all the while town residents black and white sing along to "Walk on," a tribute to the events that have passed.