Synopsis by Tom Wiener
Spike Lee's documentary on the football star, movie actor, and social activist is a no-frills examination of a man who has rarely been out of the public spotlight for over 45 years. Jim Brown talks about the various phases of his life, from his boyhood in the all-black community of St. Simons Island, GA; to his adolescence on Long Island, where he became a multi-sport star athlete; to his college days at Syracuse University; to his nine-year career as the NFL's leading running back with the Cleveland Browns; to his days as an action star in Hollywood films; to his work with various social programs, many designed to help inner city youth. Among the many interview subjects are Art Modell, the onetime owner of the Browns; former Cleveland Brown teammates Dick Schafrath, John Wooten, Bobby Mitchell, Paul Warfield, and Walter Beach; filmmaking colleagues Fred Williamson and Bernie Casey (both football players turned actors), Raquel Welch, Oliver Stone, James Toback, Melvin Van Peebles, and Stella Stevens; Kim Brown and James Brown Jr., two of Brown's children from his first marriage; and Rockhead Johnson, a former Los Angeles gang leader and officer of Brown's Amer-I-Can organization. Lee does address Brown's ongoing legal problems over various assault charges, many of them involving women, and he tracks down a onetime Brown lover who in the mid-'60s wound up in the hospital after an incident at his Los Angeles home. Brown appeared in a supporting role in Lee's film He Got Game. This film, co-produced by HBO's sports division, was released theatrically for a limited run; a version running 114 minutes premiered on HBO several months later.
activism, actor, career-retrospective, football, football-player, homage, legend [famous person], life-story, sports-star