Take a long walk. A modestly effective period piece, THE LONG WALK HOME takes as its setting the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott of 1955-56, in which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. successfully led a prolonged campaign to desegregate the city's public transportation system.
The event's racial conflicts are dramatized through the experiences of two families. The Thompsons, Miriam (Spacek) and Norman (Schultz), are well-to-do whites whose country-club lives consist of golf, real estate, and dinner parties. Their immaculate house is kept, and their young daughter
largely raised, by a black maid, Odessa Cotter (Goldberg). Odessa and her husband Herbert (Rhames) have three children of their own to protect from the city's political and racial turmoil, but Odessa also quietly spurs Miriam's conversion to the cause. Gradually Miriam's eyes are opened to the
social inequities that allow her privileged life to exist. She resolves to join the increasingly dangerous boycott.
Ironically, at a time when Hollywood was releasing more films from black directors and black viewpoints than ever before, THE LONG WALK HOME joined a growing list of dramatizations of the civil rights struggle (MISSISSIPPI BURNING, DRIVING MISS DAISY, GLORY) made by white filmmakers and seen
through the eyes of liberal white protagonists. Goldberg's Odessa is a strong character who takes her place alongside the memorable characters in other civil rights films. Still, one wonders why the protagonists in such films must continually be white when they are principally stories of black
struggle. Admittedly, the narrative seems to tug in the direction of making this Odessa's story. (It is her long walk home every evening of the bus boycott that the title suggests should be the central subject of the film.) And yet, the film sees fit to include an unnecessary voiceover narration
from the viewpoint of Miriam's now-grown daughter, as if it is her story. Well-acted, likably small-scale, full of good intentions, but hardly a corker.
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: PG
- Review: Take a long walk. A modestly effective period piece, THE LONG WALK HOME takes as its setting the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott of 1955-56, in which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. successfully led a prolonged campaign to desegregate the city's public transp… (more)