2-Disc Special Edition
Based on the book by Marshall Frady; this epic bio by John Frankenheimer stars Gary Sinise as one of the century's best candidates for true Aristotelian tragic status. The Aristotelian tragic protagonist is not an entirely bad man; but he has a fatal flaw. Wallace's flaw was not (originally) racism. It was lust for power and status; a lust so all-consuming that it turned Wallace into a fellow traveler with racists; and made of him one of the most destructive and most hated American politicians of his time. Sinise; who seems doomed to be underrated for his acting talents; captures memorably both the corruption and the belated search for redemption. Frankenheimer shows off all his skill with a story line; working through a series of flashbacks from the 1972 assassination attempt and weaving together real and constructed black-and-white footage. The pace does stumble; in the end; the movie is half an hour too long. But you get sucked in by the period feel; the accents as thick as grits; and the many excellent supporting performances. Especially notable are Mare Winningham as Wallace's long-suffering first wife; Clarence Williams as his servant Archie (a somewhat questionable fictionalization by Frankenheimer); and Joe Don Baker as his mentor and predecessor in the governor's mansion; Big Jim Folsom. Frankenheimer; Sinise; and Winningham all won Emmys for their work; and the film won the Golden Globe for Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV.