Marshall is a solidly good movie; it has the elements one expects – and that is the problem with it. It has nothing more beyond a checklist of people, events, and a formula designed to turn out good ol’ American history that is bland and sanitized. The movie directed by Reginald Hudlin tells the story of a very young Thurgood Marshall taking on a case that was seminal in his career, the fight for Civil Rights, and in the development of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Thurgood Marshall is about one of the greatest and pivotal minds in the history of the United States. Marshall was a chief architect of civil liberties and helped find justice for his people and subsequently everyone else along the way, case by case. He was eventually appointed by President Johnson as the first African American Supreme Court Justice. Sadly, in 1991 he was succeeded by Justice Clarence Thomas, also an African American but hardly a Thurgood Marshall.
Thurgood Marshall was a litigation giant and as Chief Counsel for the NAACP, he broke down walls of injustice by winning cases like s Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the case in which the Supreme Court ruled that “separate but equal” public education (established by Plessy v. Ferguson), was not applicable to public education because it could never be truly equal. Marshall argued 32 cases before the Supreme Court, winning 29 of them. However, the film, Marshall is about a much earlier case, that of Joseph Spell, a Black Chauffer accused of raping his White employer, Eleanor Stubbing, the wife of a wealthy advertising executive in Connecticut. The Spell case took place in 1940 when Marshall was just 32 years old and spent most of his days travelling from place to place taking on cases and seeding the nation with hope and courage.
Marshall misses opportunity after opportunity to be truthful and relevant in the world today because while, it looks good, and the story unfolds pretty flawlessly, it has blinders on that disregard the depths of the circumstances and impacts of the case. For example, the touches lightly on a number dynamics as if they were after thoughts such as the internal political chaos in the NAACP at the time that drove W.E.B Du Bois, one of its founders to resign from it, or the frenzy of media that was generated by the case that was like something out of the…
Authored by Sophie Ryan