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The Great Debaters Details


Drawing inspiration from the true story of a temperamental debate coach who molded the students of a small East Texas college into a formidable team that gave even Harvard's elite squad a run for their money, [[Performer~P74843~Denzel Washington~denzelwashington]]'s The Great Debaters features the director himself as the ambitious educator, and [[Performer~P116578~Forest Whitaker~forestwhitaker]] as the resentful father of a student whose loyalties now lie almost exclusively with his coach. Melvin B. Tolson ([[Performer~P74843~Washington~denzelwashington]]) is the kind of educator who truly recognizes the remarkable power of knowledge. An outspoken Wiley College professor who boldly challenged the discriminatory Jim Crow laws of the 1930s, Tolson's recognizes that his young debate students possess the spark of a new generation. Convinced that they could invoke great change if given the confidence and tools needed to do so, the tireless educator implores his students to take responsibility for the future while furtively attempting to protect them from his clandestine role as an organizer for the Southern Tenant Farmers Union. Chief among Tolson's promising young students is a 14-year-old prodigy named James Farmer, Jr. ([[Performer~P551068~Denzel Whitaker~denzelwhitaker]]). Farmer's father, James Sr. ([[Performer~P116578~Forest Whitaker~forestwhitaker]]), is a renowned scholar and an important presence in the emerging student's life. Yet despite his formidable reputation, James Sr. has not yet learned how to truly harness the power of knowledge through action and assertion. James Jr. has seen the raving effects of racism all around him, and longs to live in a future where no one must be in fear simply because of the color of their skin. Other talented debaters on Tolson's team include fiercely independent student Henry Lowe ([[Performer~P489061~Nate Parker~nateparker]]), and Samantha Brooke ([[Performer~P230850~Jurnee Smollett~jurneesmollett]]) -- the first ever female ever to join the Wiley College debate team. While most educators may not have recognized the remarkable potential of assembling such a disparate team, Tolson's unique vision truly set him apart from the pack as the team begins to experience a series of consecutive victories on their road to challenging Harvard at the National Championships. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

  • Release date:December 25, 2007


Denzel Washington
as Melvin B. Tolson
Forest Whitaker
as James Farmer Sr.
Nate Parker
as Henry Lowe
Jurnee Smollett
as Samantha Booke
Denzel Whitaker
as James Farmer Jr.
Jermaine Williams
as Hamilton Burgess
Gina Ravera
as Ruth Tolson
John Heard
as Sheriff Dozier
Kimberly Elise
as Pearl Farmer
Devyn Tyler
as Helen Farmer
Ritchie Montgomery
as Deputy
Jackson Walker
as Pig Owner
Tim Parati
as Pig Farmer
Justice Leak
as Harland Osbourne
Glen Powell Jr.
as Harvard Debater #1
Brian Smiar
as Harvard Dean
Damien Leake
as Wilson
Gordon Daniels
as Paul Quinn Debate Judge
Donny Boaz
as Oklahoma City College Debater #1
Bonnie Johnson
as Dr. Jennings
Charissa Allen
as Benita
Gary Mathis
as Enormous Man
Fahnlohnee R. Harris
as Clementine
Harold Evans
as William Taylor
J.D. Evermore
as Captain Wainwright
Sharon Jones
as Lila
Kelvin Payton
as Joseph
Southey Blanton
as White Labor Organizer
Michael Mattison
as White Sharecropper #1
Frank Ridley
as Security Guard
Jeremiah Kissel
as Radio Announcer at Harvard Debate
Jack Radosta
as White Man at Lynching
Marcus Brown
as Howard Debater #1
Rhiannon Giddens
as Juke Joint Musician #4
Ahmad Powell
as Fisk Professor
Gregory Nicotero
as Puppeteer
Gino Crognale
as Puppeteer
Michael Deak
as Puppeteer
Alex Diaz
as Puppeteer


Denzel Washington
Oprah Winfrey
Todd Black
Joe Roth
Kate Forte
Robert Eisele
Screen Story
Robert Eisele
Jeffrey Porro
Screen Story
Philippe Rousselot
Peter Golub
Composer (Music Score)
James Newton Howard
Composer (Music Score)
G. Marq Roswell
Musical Direction/Supervision
John Breinholt
Hughes Winborne
David J. Bomba
Production Designer
John R. Jenson
Art Director
Molly Allen
Harvey Weinstein
Executive Producer
Bob Weinstein
Executive Producer
Patrick Cassidy
Set Decorator
Susan Thomas
Costume Designer
Ren Heeralal
Costume Designer
Krystle Lamoreaux
Costume Designer
Lauren Wade
Costume Designer
Frank Rose
Costume Designer
Sharen Davis
Costume Designer
Liz Staub
Costume Designer
Meriwether Nichols
Costume Designer
Andrée Fortier
Costume Designer
Toby Michael Bronson
Costume Designer
Willie D. Burton
Sound/Sound Designer
Dorian Cheah
Sound/Sound Designer
Jono Oliver
First Assistant Director
Pamela Rittelmeyer
Camera Operator
Xiomara Comrie
Camera Operator
Guss Williams
Eric Norris
Gregg Brazzel
Bobby Beckles
Russell Towery
Denise Chamian
Rob Brown
Producer's Assistant
Kami Asgar
Supervising Sound Editor
Steve Driggers
Nicki Johnson
Assistant Production Coordinator
Carl Fullerton
Department Head Hair
Angela Demo
Casting Associate
Adrian Cannon
Richard Lengle
Tateum Kohut
Re-Recording Mixer
Nannette Palmer
Set Medic/First Aid
Gregory Nicotero
Makeup Special Effects
Charles Lacy
Musical Performer
Herwig Maurer
Sound Effects Editor
Jason Halley
Production Assistant
Annette Ansley
Brian McNulty
Post Production Supervisor
Brian McNulty
Visual Effects Producer
Jenna Block
Producer's Assistant
Carmine Rubino
Foley Mixer
Jorge Loredo
Tammy Peck
Animal Trainer/Wrangler
Hodge Grigsby
Production Assistant
Gary Tolbert
Aerial Photography
Eugene Purcell
Scott Childers
Construction Foreman
Simone Perusse
Joe Hancock
Gavin Greenaway
Stephen Thorp
Donny Fowler
Trae Carter
Production Assistant
Natalie Ballesteros
Casting Assistant
Natalia Anderson
Production Secretary
Lee Wimer
Color Timing
Julian Sylvester
Animal Trainer/Wrangler
Howard Berger
Makeup Special Effects
Belinda Anderson
Key Hairstylist
James Babineaux
Best Boy Electric
Shannon Thompson
Producer's Assistant
Arthur Welch
Craft Service/Catering
Bryan Booth
Jeff Valeri
Production Coordinator
Bruce Schluter
Title Design
Janice Hudson
Hair Styles
Eryne Prine
Assistant Sound Editor
Alison Cannon
Production Accountant
Howard London
ADR Mixer
Mindy Jones
Production Accountant
Kim Drummond
ADR Supervisor
Antonio Caetano Santos
Production Assistant
Virle Reid
Assistant Properties
Cid Swank
Unit Publicist
Ted Moser
Transportation Coordinator
Valerie Gladstone
Assistant Hair
Gary Kelso
Ed Burcham
Set Dresser
Linda Lazar
Rick Kline
Re-Recording Mixer
Helen Britten
Assistant Set Decorator
Bret Carroll
Matiki Anoff
Key Make-up
Monte Emery
Steven Huerstel
Cable Person
Geraud Brisson
Additional Editing
Christine Coggins
Producer's Assistant
Phillip Joffrion
Set Dresser
Pacific Title
Title Design
Meredith Wieck
Production Assistant
Shellie Gillespie
Art Department Coordinator
Erin Oakley
ADR Editor
Richard Benavidez
Jamie Horwitz
Second Assistant Accountant
Jon Wakeham
Sound Effects Editor
Jorge Vasquez
John Marquis
Sound Effects Editor
Dana Hart
Costumes Supervisor
Ryan Misselhorn
Kim Magruder
Gregg Hale
Second Assistant Director
Anita Cannella
Foley Artist
Brent Dahlin
Maya Beiser
Musical Performer
Denise Pugh-Ruiz
Assistant Makeup
Dan Hines
Tommy Samona
Anne Scott
First Assistant Accountant
Wende Martin
Rob Simons
Assistant Art Director
Juan Echanarria
Alajahwon Ridgeway
Production Assistant
Greg Orloff
Re-Recording Mixer
Jodie Stern
Assistant Costume Designer
Riko Schatke
Best Boy Grip
Patrick Pfupajena
Production Assistant
Dave Glavin
Todd Kasow
Music Editor
Andria Warren
Production Assistant
Karen Golden
Script Supervisor
Jacob Riehle
First Assistant Sound Editor
Justin Nance
Transportation Captain
Barbara Mcdermott
Assistant Music Editor
David Heffler
Production Assistant
Giovanni Bommarito
Stephanetta Bingley
Personal Assistant
Beverly Reeves
Rita Pearson
Personal Assistant
Dean Allison
Construction Foreman
John Parricelli
Musical Performer
Latoya Green
Larry Misselhorn
Michael Dressel
Foley Editor
Tim Tuchrello
Sound Effects Editor