Movie review: Marshall

Britney Yarbrough,

The new feature film “Marshall,” released by Open Road Films, portrayed the late, great lawyer, chief counsel of the NAACP legal defense and the 96th associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall.

Marshall is primarily known amongst other things for becoming the first African American Supreme Court justice and successfully arguing and winning the case of Brown v. Board of Education. The film focuses on one of the first cases of Marshall’s legal career, the defense of Joseph Spell. Spell was an African American man accused of raping and attempting to murder Eleanor Strubing. Spell was Mrs. Strubing’s chauffeur and, besides having a few minor criminal offenses, was a decent man.

Marshall was informed about the case by the NAACP and chose to take the case because he wanted Spell to have a fair trial. Marshall chose to work alongside an insurance lawyer by the name of Sam Friedman, who is portrayed by actor Josh Gad. Marshall was unable to represent Spell in court because he was from a different state. Therefore Friedman represented Spell and Marshall guided him through the trial.

The story of what happened between Spell and Strubing didn’t make sense to Marshall. Marshall knew that Strubing was lying. She claimed that Spell came into her room, raped her, tied her hands and mouth. He proceeded to put her in the back seat of her car. Then he drove her to a river, threw her over a wall, threw rocks at her and drove back to the house as if nothing had happened. For the remainder of the plot you’ll have to watch the film. You’ll be surprised!

Besides the case itself, there were many additional factors about race and what it was like to live during integration. Marshall was African American and Friedman was Jewish, two of some of the most hated individuals at the time in America. It was interesting to see was how Friedman and Marshall’s relationship developed throughout the film. At first, Friedman was unwilling to work with Marshall until he conceded, due to a favor he owed. Marshall and Friedman got off to a very rough start. However, as the story of Spell and Strubing began to make less sense, Marshall and Friedman working together began to make more sense.

People of color coming together to do what is right for other people of color can make a difference. Whether that difference be big or small. Racists are unfortunately granted power solely based on the color of their skin.

But people of color also bear great power, especially when they unite against racism. People of color posses something much greater than the color of their skin or their culture, they possess resilience and the mental capacity to see past color and prejudice. I recommend “Marshall” to everyone. It was impactful, powerful and joyous. I am certain you will enjoy it too.

Actor Chadwick Boseman portrayed young Marshall. In a role such as this one having to capture the spirit of such a legendary figure must have been difficult, but Boseman’s dedication certainly showed. Actor Josh Gad portrays Sam Friedman, actress Kate Hudson portrays Eleanor Strubing and actor Sterling K Brown portrays Joseph Spell.

I had high hopes for its outcome because of the cast alone. Marshall is one hour and 58 minutes long. It is PG-13 and can be seen in most Bay Area theatres.