THE O.J. SIMPSON STORY is a sincere portrait of the former football star and movie actor, his rise to fame, and his descent into infamy. Bobby Hosea delivers a creditable performance in the title role, and the 1994 Fox Television special released on home video in 1995 suffers less than
one might expect for having been rushed to the small screen to capitalize on the surge of publicity following Simpson's arrest for murder.
A frightened dog, its paws covered with blood, runs barking through the quiet streets of Brentwood, California. Nearby, O.J. Simpson (Bobby Hosea) climbs into a waiting limousine. As the limo drives away, a neighborhood couple has followed the dog to the scene of a grisly double murder. Simpson's
ex-wife, Nicole (Jessica Tuck), and a visitor, Ron Goldman (Paul Witten), lie dead in Nicole's yard. Simpson is soon under arrest for the slayings. His questioning by police, and by attorney Robert Shapiro (Bruce Weitz), triggers a series of memories, through which we view Simpson's ghetto
origins, his rise to fame in professional football, his career as a sportscaster and actor, his two marriages, and a personal life that seemingly deteriorated even as his career soared.
In flashback, we see O.J. meet and marry Nicole. The relationship, at first idyllic, gradually turns into an abusive nightmare. Finally, Nicole ends the marriage, but even then, O.J. continues to terrorize her. The flashback sequences continue through the night of the murder. Meanwhile, the
post-arrest story line moves gradually forward, concluding with the well-known "low-speed chase" over the Los Angeles freeways. The film ends with O.J.'s surrender to the police.
Bringing THE O.J. SIMPSON STORY to television required the filmmakers to deal with a number of problems. One of these was that the real-life Simpson drama was still being played out in the courtroom. Since Simpson's guilt or innocence had yet to be established, the filmmakers had the delicate task
of developing a character who might be an innocent man or a cold-blooded murderer. Hosea's Simpson is properly enigmatic, with enough flashes of pure goodness, and enough hints of near-psychotic evil, to allow the film to survive the final disposition of the case.
Director Jerrold Freeman is billed pseudonymously as Alan Smithee, suggesting that he wishes to disown the film. But Freeman deserves praise for treating his subject with taste and genuine respect. In all, the film is surprisingly well done, and should satisfy anyone with a continuing taste for
O.J. (Adult situations.)
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