George Wallace John Frankenheimer

George Wallace appears in history books as a key villain in the American Civil Rights movement of the '60s. The Governor of Alabama blocked the doorway at the University of Alabama so that two coloured students couldn't register, and is infamous for his 1963 inauguration speech in which he proclaimed, "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!" John Frankenheimer's three-hour TV movie (broadcast in 1997 before Wallace died) paints Wallace as a Faustian character who sold out his moderate racial beliefs to become an arch segregationist and seize power. However, after an assassination attempt and another failed marriage, Wallace found God then supported civil rights, thus embodying a remarkable transformation in American politics. Gary Sinese is entirely captivating as Wallace, as is Mare Winningham, playing his long-suffering first wife. Along with director Frankenheimer, both won Emmys for their fine work, while a young Angelina Jolie, in a supporting role as Wallace's vivacious second wife, scored a nomination. If it were 30 minutes shorter and had a bigger budget, George Wallace would've made a fine theatrical film. The movie spends too much time on Wallace's early career and not enough on his redemption in the end. That said, I'm glad this is one of the few TV movies to endure on DVD. However, I question a two-DVD release, since everything would've fit on a single dual-layer disc. In a touching featurette, Sinese and his co-stars reflect on Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate, Seconds), whose career was in a slump until this movie. That's the only bonus feature on this set, and it's a pity that it doesn't include an audio commentary by Sinese or a documentary about Wallace. (Warner)