Regina King Predicts the Unknown in ‘One Night In Miami’


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Scene from King’s “One Night in Miami,” starring Kingsley Ben-Adir (Malcolm X), Eli Goree (Cassius Clay), Aldis Hodge (Jim Brown) and Leslie Odom Jr. (Sam Cooke).

Journalism 1, Reporter

By Alana DeRose 

Sometimes things are better left unknown. One Night in Miami doesn’t seem to think so. This film paints a picture of what could have taken place in a Miami Hotel room between Muhammad Ali, Malcom X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown, four legendary people in African American history and the room where it happened.

One night. One room. One fight. A fight not even boxing legend Muhammad Ali can win. A touchdown not even football legend Jim Brown can score. A song that even legendary Sam Cooke couldn’t sing. A speech that not even Malcolm X can speak. Freedom. 

Beautifully put together by director Regina King and actors Leslie Odom Jr. (Sam Cooke), Kingsley Ben-Adir (Malcom X), Eli Goree (Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali) and Aldis Hodge (Jim Brown), One Night In Miami created a sense of excitment in me, and a deep connection in wondering what events transpired when four of Americas most important figures in history get together. 

This was the first time I’ve ever felt a sense of pride and a sense of inspiration when watching a movie that was based on theory, a theory that was so greatly told it must be true, and what I like most about it is that all the actors accept Aldis Hodge (who plays Jim Brown) all look identical to their character.  

The movie starts off with each of the legends doing what they do. Muhammad Ali is in a boxing match against some white guy, Jim Brown goes to meet up with an old friend Mr. Carlton, Sam Cooke is performing in a concert but no one’s really loving it, and Malcom X is speaking on the fact that “the white man is the devil.”

Each of these moments show people who don’t know who these people really are and why they’ve become so legendary. It also presents their struggle or their received hate among white people. 

The movie then switches over to Cassius Clay heading over to Malcom X’s house to pray with him before heading off to his legendary boxing match against Sonny Liston, this was also before Cassius Clay converted to Islam, becoming Muhammad Ali.

Then we see the legendary fight of Cassius Clay vs. Sonny Liston. However it wasn’t just one legend, at that fight there was also Jim Brown, Sam Cooke, and Malcom X standing in the crowd rooting for Cassius to win. Obviously Cassius won this legendary fight making him the youngest boxer to strip a boxer of their heavyweight title at 22 years old. 

Everyone in the crowd was super excited for the victory especially the now cocky Cassius Clay. People ran to the ring crowding around Cassius as he pointed out to Malcom who nodded his head while holding the camera happy for his friend.

Later the friends all decided to celebrate by meeting up in this motel room at the Hampton House Motel in Miami. 

That scene set off what the movie is really going to be about, and something that, even today, the only living member, Jim Brown, won’t let us know. Throughout the movie, we hear the passion of Malcolm X when talking about the racial injustice in America. We hear the disputes among the men specifically X and Cooke when discussing how each deals with racism. For 90 percent of the movie they’re all in that motel room and we see the fire, we see the power that each one represents and how each one contributes to the civil rights movement in their own way.  Here we see the actors truly dive into their characters and express so much natural emotion that it almost seems as if we’re watching a recording from that night. 

The movie felt like all the other great documentaries placed back during the civil rights movement. The classic cars such as Sam Cooke’s Ferrari, the record players such as the ones shown in the motel room, the houses such as the one Malcolm X lived in, and even the media such as the TV showing the performance of Sam Cooke’s legendary song “Change Will Come”. 

All these classic elements made it the Oscar worthy film that it is. Regina King put together something special with this movie by not only making the setting and the devices look the same, but the actors too. It all felt like we weren’t even watching history, but experiencing it for ourselves.