Great White Hope, The (1970): Martin Ritt’s Racial Drama, Starring James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander in Oscar Nominated Performances

Fox (Lawrence Turman Production)
In Martin Ritt’s well-acted drama, based on the 1966 Broadway stage hit, written by Howard Sackler, James Earl Jones recreated his stage role as heavyweight champion Jack Jefferson, a character modeled on Jack Johnson.
Also reprising her stage role is Jane Alexander, in her feature screen debut, as the white woman he loves, and who precipitates his downfall.
The supporting cast includes vet actor Chester Morris (in his last role), Robert Webber, Hal Holbrook, Bea Richards, and Moses Gunn.
Oscar Nominations: 2
Actor: James Earl Jones
Actress: Jane Alexander
Oscar Awards: None
Oscar Context
In 1970, “Patton” competed for the Best Picture Oscar with the schlocky disaster flick “Airport,” which inexplicably received 10 nominations, but won only one (Supporting Actress to veteran Helen Hayes); “Five Easy Pieces,” which was nominated for 4, but didn’t win any Oscar; “Love Story,” which won 1 out of its 6 nominations; and “M A-S-H,” the first Robert Altman to be nominated for the top award.
George C. Scott won the Best Actor for playing the titular role in Patton, in a race that included Melvyn Douglas in “I Never Sang for My Father,” Jack Nicholson in “Five Easy Pieces,” and Ryan O’Neal in “Love Story.”
The winner of the Best Actress Oscar was Glenda Jackson in “Women in Love,” in a category that also included Ali MacGraw in “Love Story,” Sarah Miles in “Ryan’s Daughter,” and Carrie Snodgress in “Diary of a Mad Housewife.”