One Night in Miami (2020) – Transcript

"One Night in Miami" is a fictional account of one incredible night where icons Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown gathered discussing their roles in the civil rights movement and cultural upheaval of the 60s.
One Night in Miami (2020)

Set on the night of February 25, 1964, One Night in Miami follows a young, brash Cassius Clay as he emerges from the Miami Beach Convention Center the new Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World. Against all odds, he defeated Sonny Liston and shocked the sports world. While crowds of people swarm Miami Beach to celebrate the match, Clay – unable to stay on the island because of Jim Crow-era segregation laws – spends the evening at the Hampton House Motel in Miami’s African American Overtown neighborhood celebrating with three of his closest friends: Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown. During this historic evening, these icons, who each were the very representation of the Pre-Black Power Movement and felt the social pressure their cross-over celebrity brought, shared their thoughts with each other about their responsibilities as influencers, standing up, defending their rights and moving the country forward to equality and empowerment for all black people. The next morning, the four men emerge determined to define a new world for themselves and their community.

 

 

♪ ♪

(crowd cheering)

MALE ANNOUNCER: The rain has stopped.

The excitement has really grown among this 40,000-strong Wembley crowd.

Safe to say that every single one of them is on Henry Cooper’s side.

(punches landing)

MALE ANNOUNCER 2: And Cooper’s eye is opening wider.

It’s a shocking cut above his left eye.

He knows he’s got to get this fight over with fairly quickly.

Clay doesn’t like it.

He pushes the referee, but the referee’s having none of it.

Clay is mocking Cooper.

CASSIUS: I’m over here.

ANNOUNCER 2: Cooper knows. He’s trying to get that left…

CASSIUS: I’m over here.

…left hook now.

(bell dinging)

Left hook. Oh, there he goes!

He just misses Clay.

(crowd jeering)

And he raises his hands as he goes back to his corner, the crowd jeering him all the way.

My goodness, Cooper.

ANGELO: Is this a joke to you, kid?

What’d I do?

Nothing.

That’s the problem. We had a fight plan.

Plan? Angie, look at him.

I’m beating the shit out of that tomato can.

Damn right he is. Rumble, young man, rumble!

Ah!

Ah!

Listen, if you’re not gonna keep your hands up, can you at least finish him off?

I don’t want to get too close to him.

I get any more of his blood on my trunks, my mama ain’t never gonna be able to get it out.

Nobody gives a damn about blood on some boxing trunks.

These is my lucky trunks.

Your mama’s still doing your laundry?

(laughter)

Shut up.

Would you both shut the fuck up?

Here.

Three rounds in, and it’s not looking good

for Henry the Hammer.

No, it is not.

ANNOUNCER 2: This Wembley Park crowd was expecting a better showing from local lad Cooper against American upstart Cassius Clay.

They’ve been saying the Louisville Lip’s theatrics overshadow his actual skills in the ring.

I doubt Cooper agrees with that assessment tonight.

Let’s just hope Clay can put this bloke out of his misery soon.

ANNOUNCER: I think we may have all underestimated Cassius Clay, Ronnie.

Perhaps he is as good as he says he is.

(bell dinging)

Finish him off!

I’ll finish him when I’m good and ready to.

(crowd cheering)

Let’s go, Cooper.

REFEREE: Fight!

You ain’t got nowhere to be, do you, Henry?

ANGELO: Jab him! Jab him!

Push!

Let’s go.

(grunting)

(crowd shouting)

ANGELO: Let’s go, now, Cassius. Let’s go.

There you are.

(crowd booing)

ANGELO: There you are.

ANGELO: That’s right.

No holding, Henry.

Cooper, hang on.

Don’t stay in too long. Move.

Move!

Dance, Cassius. Keep moving.

Come on.

ANNOUNCER 2: Clay is mocking Cooper.

ANGELO: There it is. There you are.

Got to dance with him. You got to dance.

ANNOUNCER 2: The crowd doesn’t like it.

None of that.

Hands! Hands up!

Come on, Henry!

What is he doing?

I don’t know. Playing around.

ANGELO: Don’t walk this guy down.

BUNDINI: That’s how you do it.

ANGELO: Keep your eyes in the ring.

Is that Elizabeth Taylor?

ANNOUNCER: Anything might happen.

Keep those hands up!

There you go!

Oh!

(crowd clamoring)

ANNOUNCER: That was the end of the fourth round, and he hit him.

Get up!

So close, before the end of the round.

ANGELO: That was lucky.

Get up there, Cassius. Come on.

Get up.

You’re okay! You’re okay! Come on.

ANNOUNCER: Clay took one chance too many, and he still doesn’t know where he is.

He’s still half out, Clay.

MYRON: I want you to imagine a man who, for 25 years of his life, arrived to work every morning at 9:00.

You could set your watch by him.

Then suddenly one morning, after 25 years of punctual 9:00-in-the-morning appearances, not only is he late but he doesn’t look like himself.

Big lump on his head, two black eyes, bloody nose, torn lip, clothes ripped and disheveled.

His boss says, “What in the world happened to you?”

He says, “Oh, fell down a whole flight of stairs, almost got killed.”

His boss says, “So this took you an hour?”

(laughter)

(applause)

JESS: Jules, work with us.

JULES: The Copa has rules.

Band members sit in the bandstand.

Cliff’s not dressed.

You don’t even have a chair for him.

If your guy’s a real singer…

Real singer?

…then he don’t need no guitar player on the floor with him.

My guy’s first single was number one in America.

He ain’t had any hits in here.

I never should’ve booked him.

We could’ve had Mark Wilson in this slot.

Who? The magician?

From The Magical Land of Allakazam?

(chuckles) I love that show, man.

See? Even that guy knows, and he looks like an idiot.

Fuck you, man.

MYRON: My dear good friends, you’ve been a wonderful audience.

Thank you very much, and good night.

JULES: So?

Thank you.

Should I tell Myron to do an encore?

He’s the one these people paid to see.

JESS: Shh.

Sam.

MAN: Give it up for Myron Cohen,

ladies and gentlemen.

(applause)

Myron Cohen.

All right, fine. Fine.

Fine.

MAN: Next up…

Better not fuck up my arrangements.

…we have a young man coming to the Copacabana for the very first time.

You all know him from his hit song “You Send Me.”

Ladies and gents, let’s give a warm Copacabana welcome for Sam Cooke!

(applause)

(band playing lively jazz music)

It’s great to be at the Copacabana!

(music ends)

How’s everybody feeling tonight?

(people clearing throats)

(scattered applause)

Uh, I-I want to tell you that, uh, ever since I started singing, before I even knew I wanted to be a singer, playing the Copa has always been a dream of mine.

So thank you for being here on the night that dream comes true.

(people coughing)

I thought I’d start off this evening, uh, with something that you all might recognize.

Boys.

(band playing “Tammy”)

Cigarettes, ma’am?

No.

(quiet whispering)

♪ I hear the cottonwood ♪

♪ Whispering ♪

♪ Above ♪

(microphone stand clanks)

(sighs)

♪ Tammy ♪

(trumpet playing off-key)

♪ Tammy ♪

♪ Tammy’s my love ♪

What time is it? What time is it?

Uh…

♪ The old hooty owl ♪

♪ Hooty-hoos to… ♪

I liked this song so much better when Debbie Reynolds sang it.

♪ Tammy ♪

Come on, let’s go.

♪ Tammy ♪

♪ Tammy’s my love… ♪

(door opens)

(distant applause)

(sighs)

(Jess sighs)

Boy, you… you really did bomb tonight, Sam.

Motherfucker, have you ever made a quarter of a million dollars singing?

Sam, no.

Well, I have.

So until you do, keep your fucking mouth shut!

(woman gasps)

(door closes)

(man chuckling)

He ain’t wrong, though.

(laughing)

You did kind of stink the place up tonight.

(chuckles): Yeah, I did.

Told him not to sing that song.

He got all them hits; he chose that one.

I know.

(upbeat blues song playing)

♪ Whew! It’s hot as shit out here ♪

♪ Where’s my drink? ♪

♪ Mm ♪

♪ With the dirt-brown ground, leaving from L.A. ♪

♪ Heading down to the South where the gators like to play ♪

♪ Engine roaring nice from that old red clay ♪

♪ On my soapbox spittin’, listen what I gotta say ♪

♪ Howl for me, daddy ♪

♪ Sure sound sweet ♪

♪ Say something, baby ♪

♪ Say something deep ♪

♪ What you say, daddy? ♪

♪ Say something deep… ♪

(insects trilling, birds chirping)

(song continues faintly over car stereo)

(brakes squeak)

(music stops)

(engine turns off)

(bell jingles)

Yes? May I help you?

Yes, ma’am.

I’m here to see Mr. Carlton.

Would you tell him that Jim Brown is…

Jim Brown? Oh.

God! From the NFL!

(both chuckle)

Grandpa!

Jim Brown from the NFL is here, and he wants to see you.

(laughing): Well, I never.

(chuckles)

Never.

Would you look at who’s on my porch.

(chuckles): James Nathaniel Brown.

Hello there, Mr. Carlton.

Don’t you “hello” me.

Put her there, son.

(chuckles)

Come now, have a seat with me.

Can I get you something to drink?

Lemonade, maybe?

Oh, that’s all right. Thank you, though.

Well, suit yourself.

I’m certainly having me some.

Fetch us a couple glasses of that lemonade, would you, sweetie?

(in distance): Yes, Grandpa.

Just in case you change your mind.

Hmm.

(chuckles)

How long you been back on the island?

Oh, I just got in last night.

And you came by to say hello?

How thoughtful of you, Jimmy.

Well, my aunt says you were anxious to see me.

I’m an early riser, so I thought I’d come right on over.

Mm, the early bird does catch the worm.

Mm.

But you already know that.

You caught a hell of a lot of worms this year.

(both chuckle)

I guess you can say that.

No man who’s run 1,860 yards in a season needs to be so humble.

Actually, it was 1,863.

Oh, that’s more like it.

Mm-hmm.

That record is gonna stand the test of time.

You know, I’d happily give that record back for a win over the Packers in that last game.

(chuckles) That Packers win is gonna be forgotten by anyone who doesn’t live in Goose Bay by tomorrow.

Hmm.

Your record is gonna be remembered forever.

I don’t see why I can’t have the record and the win next time.

Right you are, son. Right you are.

Jimmy, I-I just wanted to-to let you know, if there’s ever anything I can do for you, you should never hesitate to reach out.

Um, that’s…

That’s-that’s mighty kind of you, sir.

Oh, our families go way back.

Been looking after one another since the first folks settled on this island.

I wanted to make sure that I told you face-to-face, as long as I’m still here, that ain’t ever gonna change.

Well, my aunt would be very happy to hear such a kind sentiment from you, Mr. Carlton.

Not everyone else on the island has been so supportive.

Ah, crabs in a barrel, I say.

To hell with them all.

(chuckles)

I, for one, think that you are a credit not only to this community but to the entire state of Georgia.

I’ve never been prouder to say that I live on St. Simons Island than I am now.

Mm.

And I would make a point of adding “the place where the great Jim Brown is from.”

(chuckles)

Huh?

Here you boys go.

Ah.

Two lemonades.

Thank you, darling.

Well, thank you.

Mm.

Uh, sorry to bother you while you’re entertaining, Grandpa, but if you could come move that bureau, when-when you have a moment.

Oh. Sorry.

I almost forgot. (chuckles)

You, uh… you moving some furniture?

Mm-hmm.

Well, you know, uh, you should let me help you with that.

Ah, so considerate of you, Jimmy, but you know we don’t allow niggers in the house, so it’s quite all right.

It really is wonderful to see you, son.

You keep up the good work.

Do us all proud.

MIKE WALLACE: While city officials, state agencies, white liberals and sober-minded Negroes stand idly by, a group of Negro dissenters is taking to street corner step ladders, church pulpits, sports arenas and ballroom platforms across the United States to preach a gospel of hate that would set off a federal investigation if it were preached by Southern whites.

For some time between now and 1970,

Elijah Muhammad, founder and spiritual leader of the group,

(chuckles softly)

Has intimated that he will give the call for the destruction of the white man.

Here you will hear Elijah Muhammad introduced by minister Malcolm X, the Muslims’ New York leader and ambassador-at-large for the movement.

Now, in the church, we-we used to sing the song

“Good News, the Chariot Is Coming.”

Is-is that right or wrong?

CROWD: That’s right.

But what we must bear in mind is that what’s good news to you might be bad news to another.

And while you sit here today knowing that you have come to hear good news, you must realize in advance, what’s good news for the sheep, well, that might be bad news for the wolf.

(crowd murmuring, applauding)

(door opens)

I expected you back hours ago.

I know, I know, I know, I know.

I got back as fast as I could.

Thank goodness you’re safe.

(sighs)

…and the wisest and most fearless Black man in America…

Where are the girls?

I put them to bed.

Oh, I promised I’d be here in time to tuck them in.

(clicks tongue)

I’m really sorry.

But you can put them to bed tomorrow night.

Right.

(chuckles softly)

Tomorrow.

Did you speak to him?

(smacks lips)

Yes.

And?

Louis X said that if I decide to leave the Nation of Islam, I will be doing so on my own.

Damn him!

Betty.

Please.

Please just… don’t wake up the girls.

He wouldn’t even be in the Nation if not for you, let alone running the Boston temple.

And he remains thankful for my mentorship.

You told him about the Messenger’s indiscretions?

All of the secretaries, all of the children?

And that didn’t sway him at all?

No, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad…

Oh, don’t say “Honorable.”

…was his lure to the Nation, just like he was for me and so many others.

Now imagine convincing someone to convert to Christianity and then telling that same person to leave the church because

Christ was not who you said he was.

Louis could stroll right over to any of the seedy apartments Elijah Muhammad has those poor young girls holed up in and see the proof of his deeds with his own eyes.

Perhaps Louis X just isn’t ready to see that truth.

Maybe none of them are.

What are we gonna do now?

The Nation owns this house.

The car.

Everything we have.

The second they learn about your plan…

I am hoping our friendship will keep Brother Louis from sharing our plans with anyone else.

You can’t count on that.

I have to.

I have to until I can make other arrangements.

What else can be done?

You… We are all alone if we go through with this.

For the moment.

But I have one more potential ace up my sleeve.

What?

♪ ♪

(splash)

He can’t even swim.

That boy gonna mess around and drown.

You need to get on out of there ‘fore you get yourself killed.

He’s right, kid. You need to get your head into this fight.

My head is into the fight, Angie.

You sat in on any more of Liston’s training sessions like I asked?

(grunts)

No need.

No need, no need.

Watching Sonny Liston train is like… being at the circus.

He looks like one of them big ugly bears they have riding around on tiny little bikes.

All he needs is that itty-bitty hat on his head.

He ain’t no boxer. He’s an animal.

He’s an animal that can tear you apart if you don’t focus.

Mm-hmm.

You make the same mistakes with him as you did with Cooper, you won’t be walking away from it.

I won that Cooper fight, didn’t I?

You got saved by the bell.

And he would’ve finished the job if they didn’t stop the fight from all the bleeding.

Oh, woulda, coulda, shoulda, didn’t.

A win is a win, Ferdie.

I’ll be back in a bit.

And where on earth are you going?

To check on Malcolm.

Oh, good grief.

You got something else on your mind, Angie?

Do I need to remind you how unhappy the Louisville Group is about him being here?

What they got to be mad about?

I been training hard as hell for this fight.

Well, they’re the ones paying for all the training.

They’re paying for all of us.

I’m just letting you know they’ve been giving me a lot of grief.

What business is Malcolm of theirs?

You don’t understand why a bunch of white businessmen might be a little stung by a guy who says they’re all natural born demons?

Mm-hmm. That’d do it.

He said “devils.”

Malcolm’s never been anything but kind to you, Angelo.

I know, but the investors only know what they see on TV, and that ain’t good.

They pay for my training.

They don’t get to choose my friends for me.

Well, training’s what they want their money going towards, not some white-man-hating demagogue’s airfare.

What did the investors say when they gave me my money?

That it was yours to do with…

To do with as I please, Angie.

And if it pleases me to bring my friend down to give me the spiritual support I need to win this fight, then that’s what I’m gonna do.

They want their money back,

I’ll pay it back to all of ’em, with interest, after the fight. Now, if you all will excuse me,

I’ll see you back here in an hour.

SAM: ♪ Don’t make it rougher ♪

♪ And don’t make me suffer, just… ♪

SAM and BARBARA: ♪ Put me down easy. ♪

BUNDINI: He’ll be all right.

You got to have faith in him.

Got to have a little bit of faith.

BARBARA: That sounds nice.

SAM: It does, doesn’t it?

♪ If you found somebody new ♪

♪ There’s nothing I can do ♪

♪ But ask you to ♪

(chuckles softly)

♪ Go easy on me, baby doll ♪

♪ Do me this service, break my fall. ♪

Ah, shit.

What?

That sounds great.

If I was singing it, maybe, but not for L.C.

It don’t sound like nothing he’d ever say.

(chuckles) You got that right.

He’s more like…

♪ Get on over here, girl, and let me smell them panties. ♪

‘Ey!

(laughs)

(laughs)

Your brother is so country.

Yeah, look who’s talking.

I’m sophisticated.

I don’t know why I go through all the trouble of getting a nice hotel room like this for a old country gal like you.

I didn’t ask to stay at the Fontainebleau.

I’d have been perfectly happy over at the Sir John with Cassius or the Hampton House with Malcolm and the rest of the Black folks like us.

But I do like it here.

It’s nice.

And, uh… I am glad I decided to come down here for this, Sam.

With you.

You haven’t sung to me in… a long time.

(clicks tongue)

I know it. (exhales)

(strums guitar)

(phone rings)

(phone clicks in cradle)

Hello.

MALCOLM: Brother Sam?

Uh, Malcolm!

(Malcolm chuckles softly)

MALCOLM: Is Brother Cassius there with you?

No. He’s probably doing some last-minute prep for the fight.

Why?

Oh, uh…

I thought he might come by before heading to the convention center so we might have a word or two.

Well, have you tried Jim?

MALCOLM: Yes. Uh, Jimmy hadn’t seen him, either.

Well, if he calls, I’ll tell him you’re looking for him.

MALCOLM: Ah. I appreciate that, Brother Sam.

SAM: We’ll see you at the convention center.

Yeah. I wouldn’t miss it.

All right.

(sighs)

(knocking)

Come in.

(music playing in distance)

Yes, Brother Kareem.

You have a visitor, Brother Malcolm.

(Malcolm chuckles)

(laughing)

Brother Cassius.

I thought you might not be able to make it.

Hey, man, ain’t no way I’m going into that ring without my insurance policy.

All right.

(exhales)

♪ ♪

Allahu Akbar.

(exhales)

MALCOLM (whispers): Cassius.

(Cassius clears throat)

CASSIUS: Thank you.

Mm-hmm.

(praying in Arabic)

Allahu Akbar.

(praying in Arabic)

(praying in Arabic)

MALCOLM: Allahu Akbar.

(breathing heavily)

You ready for tonight?

(sniffs)

Man, I’ve been training three years for this fight.

(chuckles): I’m as ready as a person can be.

Well, uh…

Well, still, it might not hurt to just tone down the rhetoric till after the fight.

Why would I do that?

May be easier for you to focus, Cash, you know, if, for once, the only person gunning for your head is the guy in the ring and not the entire arena.

You watch rassling?

Wrestling, no, I can’t say it’s part of my daily viewing.

I figured not.

Well, my favorite rassler is Gorgeous George.

A good-looking fellow, I take it.

In the European way, sure.

Head full of blond hair teased up into a nice do.

Ooh, the crowds must love him.

Nah.

He preens and he prances around like a peacock, talking all kind of smack.

They boo him, they scream at him, and the more they scream, the more he eggs ’em all on.

Oh, so, so he-he’s the villain?

Well, sort of.

Rassling is complicated.

And why would you model yourself after a person everyone hates, Cash?

Because everyone in that arena pays $100 to see George lose.

(laughs)

The way I figure it, win or lose the fight,

George has already won the war.

Well, maybe you fellas just like going around with targets on your backs.

Oh, we learned from the best, Brother Minister.

Touché.

(Malcolm chuckles)

I got you a ticket in the second row, right next to Sam.

And Jimmy?

Oh, he’s doing, uh, commentary r-ringside, but don’t worry.

I already told all of them, after the fight, we’re all coming back here for the champ’s victory party.

And did you… you tell ’em anything else?

Oh. I didn’t. I didn’t get around to it.

I mean, um… I mean, I plan to.

No, no. It’s all right, my brother.

It’s, uh… (inhales)

The journey is different for each of us.

Thank you, Malcolm.

All right.

(sighs)

I got to get back to my team.

Mm-hmm.

(grunts) The fight… is at 10:00.

Don’t be late.

I won’t.

Peace be unto you, young brother.

(door closes)

Peace be unto you.

ANGELO: Stay on top of him.

COMMENTATOR: Clay in the white trunks with the red stripes, and an inch and a half taller, is really bringing the fight to the champ.

Come on, sucka. Come on.

Come on, Cassius!

Honestly, I’m really happy that we’re here.

I think we got a really good show. Oh.

(chuckles): Oh. All right.

That’s what I’m talking about right there.

Come on, Cash!

Stay on him! Stay on him!

Bang, bang, in and out, Cassius.

Stay in there! Stay in there!

Bang, bang.

Outside, in and out, Cassius.

There you are. There you are.

(cheering, shouting)

ANGELO: That’s what you want.

Come on, boy.

You gonna get that whuppin’.

Give him that Liston punch, baby!

Yes. Yes.

Now, see, the thing about him, man, he stays on his toes.

Nobody moves like him.

He’s just dancing. He floats.

All right, come on, Cash. Come on, Cash.

Oh.

Come on.

That’s what you want. That’s what you want.

(gasping)

Stick him, Cash!

JIM: Cash looks good.

He’s staying warm. He’s moving well. He’s…

Oh, watch that hook, Cash. Watch that hook.

WOMAN: Come on!

(crowd shouting)

Liston’s got Clay against the ropes.

Get off the ropes, Cash. Get off the ropes.

ANGELO: Watch him, ref. Watch him, ref. Come on.

Yeah. There you go. There you go.

Stay on him.

Damn, Sonny. You gettin’ uglier.

BUNDINI: Get out of there.

MAN: Make a move, Cash!

Take that with you.

Come on, Cash!

(cheering)

ANGELO: Stick and slide.

Come on, champ, move!

(crowd gasping)

(bell dings)

There we go. You see?

See, he’s a smart fighter.

(cheering and applause)

There you are. Stay on him.

Stick and slide.

Keep surrounding that jab, all right?

Okay? Just keep staying with the plan.

Water, water.

Looking good. Looking good.

He’s right where you want him. He’s right where you want him.

All right? Finish him off. Take that belt home, okay?

Stay on him. He’s looking bad over there.

He’s looking bad.

You got him.

I told you he’s ugly.

Oh, yeah.

You should see him up close. (sniffs)

Oh, man, he’s ugly.

(bell dings)

Let’s go. Let’s go home.

MAN: Stick him, Cash!

MAN: Let’s go, Cassius!

Stick him!

Cassius Clay!

CASSIUS: Come on, quit, Sonny.

You’re ready to quit.

Go on, quit.

That’s it.

Come on, quit.

Go on, quit.

That’s it, boy.

That’s it, Sonny. That’s it.

Go on. Quit, then.

REFEREE: Okay, that’s it.

Go on! Quit, then!

That’s it.

(laughs)

(cheering)

(cheering, booing)

You’re the champ!

(shouting)

You’re the champ!

CASSIUS: I’m the greatest! I’m king of the world!

You’re the champ!

I’m king of the world!

(excited chatter)

CASSIUS: I’m a bad man!

(yelling excitedly)

I told them! I told them!

You’re the champ!

You’re the champ.

I told them! I told them!

You told them! You told them!

I told you! I told you!

I’m the greatest! I’m king of the world!

I’m king of the world! I’m pretty!

You the champ!

That’s Sam Cooke.

(cheering, raucous chatter)

That’s the world’s greatest rock and roll singer.

That’s Sam Cooke. He too pretty.

He too pretty. We both pretty.

That’s Sam Cooke.

You’re beautiful!

You’re beautiful!

We shook up the world!

We shook up the world! They got another excuse.

See you at the Hampton House, champ.

They got another excuse. They say he threw his arm out.

That’s Sam Cooke. Get out my way.

Out my way, out my way. Get off me.

Malcolm! Malcolm!

Aah! I told ’em! I told ’em!

Eat your words! Eat your words!

Eat your words! I remember you!

I remember you! You picked him!

I told you!

I remember you, and I remember you.

(engine revs)

(chatter in Spanish)

(grunts)

(exhales, chuckles)

Is this where the party’s at?

Mr. Cooke.

(car door shuts)

I’m Brother Kareem.

The brother minister instructed us to let you in if you arrived early.

I’m the first one here?

That’s correct.

Me and my fast-ass cars.

(chuckles) So?

This way, please.

(laughing)

(chuckles)

(sighs)

(airplane passing overhead)

(quietly): It’s a damn dump.

(snaps fingers)

Hmm.

(snaps fingers)

Mm.

(latches clacking)

(case shuts)

Maybe, maybe, maybe.

♪ If you found somebody new ♪

♪ There’s nothing I can do ♪

♪ But ask you to ♪

♪ Do it to me just the same ♪

♪ As pilots do big aeroplanes ♪

Yeah.

♪ Put me down easy ♪

♪ Put me down easy, baby… ♪

Whew, you got to admit, that brother sure can sing.

♪ Don’t make me suffer… ♪

If you’re into that sort of thing.

Right. (chuckles softly)

Right.

Too quick, man.

Too fast!

I’m fast, man.

I-I couldn’t see…

(indistinct chatter, laughter)

I think he caught a glimpse of his own reflection and got scared.

Is that what it was?

(horn honks)

Oh…

That was beautiful, Cash.

Oh.

What a night!

Whoa.

Oh, man.

(chuckles)

Yes, sir.

He ran out of gas.

There wasn’t a station around nowhere.

I’m telling you, man, this is the start.

This is the start right here, man.

Come out for the seventh.

Just the beginning.

That’s right.

Hey.

CASSIUS: Just the beginning.

JIM: Just the beginning.

Where are we going? What are we doing?

Whose night is it?

Where’s-where’s Sam?

Come on, man. Show us the way.

Who’s the champ?

Who’s the champ?

Oh, you know who the champ is.

Who’s the champ?

You know who the champ is.

Who?

I thought I was the champ.

(chuckling)

Whew!

(chuckles)

Whew.

Told ’em. I told ’em.

You got him in six, Cash.

I told ’em, El Negro, Campiano, King Bacadero…

Your friend has already arrived.

JIM: What the hell does that mean?

I’d assumed.

CASSIUS: King of Miami.

His car is hard to miss.

All right.

Yes.

Well, we let him into your room as you instructed.

Oh, that’s much appreciated.

Is there anything else you need?

No, brother. We’ll be fine from here.

God is great.

He really is, isn’t he?

SAM: Mm-hmm.

The hell took y’all so long?

Ah, well, we didn’t run every damn red light between the convention center and Overtown.

CASSIUS: Man, we told you to ride with us.

What, and leave my car at the arena parking lot?

Fuck that. Besides, I had to drop off Barbara.

(strums guitar)

Well, was you sad, Sam?

Sitting in here all by your lonesome?

I don’t need y’all around to entertain myself.

CASSIUS: We figured you’d have rounded up some girls

before we even got here, boy.

(strumming guitar)

Where they at?

SAM: Shit, ain’t you too tired?

Tired? Boy, I’m energized.

Was before I even threw the first punch.

SAM: All right.

Man, can you believe they had the nerve to trot Willie Pastrano into the ring before the fight?

You know, they say he boxes just like you, Cash.

(laughing): Ooh-hoo-hoo!

Like me?

Are you insane?

Hey.

Willie Pastrano… that’s the dancing master, ain’t it?

CASSIUS: Shit, if he’s the dancing master, I must be the motherfucking inventor of dance.

Just ask Sonny.

Oh, you goddamn right.

I am 210 and a half pounds of trouble, boys.

And what they didn’t know was when they weighed me in, a half pound of it wasn’t even me.

Oh, what was it, Cash?

It was a half pound of divine skill bestowed upon me from God up on high!

Hey!

JIM: Oh.

This motherfucker here.

All right.

They had Joe Louis on one side of the ring, Rocky Marciano in the other.

Halfway through the sixth, out the corner of my eye, I saw them looking at each other like they was asking themselves, “Why couldn’t we do that when we was young?”

(laughing)

I’m serious.

If tonight don’t prove God was with me, then nothing does.

Well, he sure as shit wasn’t with Sonny.

Oh, man, you know Sonny a damn heathen.

And what do they always say, Malcolm?

The penalty one pays for avoiding the path of righteousness is walking whatever other path they choose alone.

Mm-hmm.

Yes, that’s right.

(others murmuring)

Yes, yes, Cassius Marcellus Clay is the new heavyweight champion of the world, boys!

Yes, he is! Yes, he is!

CASSIUS: And I don’t even have a scratch on my fa…

(Sam laughs)

Oh, my goodness.

Cassius.

What’s wrong, Cash?

What? Cash, what…

Why am I so pretty?

Ah.

Ah.

And I’m only 22 years old.

There is no way I’m supposed to be this great.

Look, Alexander the Great conquered the whole world at the age of 30…

Yeah.

…and I conquered the world of boxing at 22, without sustaining so much as a scratch.

That’s right.

Ah!

SAM: There he goes!

You do the math.

SAM: All right.

Where and when is this party going down?

Yeah, that’s a good question. What’s on the agenda, Malcolm?

Well, I thought this would be a wonderful chance for us to reflect on what’s happened tonight.

Like our young brother said, there’s no denying that greater forces were at work.

You mean… no one else is coming?

Oh, rest assured, my brother, you’re not missing anything.

But I…

I wanted some pussy tonight.

Ah, it’ll be all right, Jimmy. I think you’ll live.

Hey, hey, Malcolm, I… (chuckles)

I-I did not give up a chance to stay and party at the Fontainebleau

for this shit.

(water running)

MALCOLM: The Fontainebleau?

The Fontainebleau Miami Beach?

What, you just walked right up to the counter and booked yourself a room, Brother Sam?

Malcolm, relax.

Allen booked the room. Allen booked the room.

Allen Klein. The white man.

SAM: That’s his job.

MALCOLM: Oh, that’s his job?

To tell the other crackers that you’re one of the good ones?

To do what I ask him to do.

Will you two quit the philosophical debate for five seconds?

Ain’t you just heard Jim say he’s getting blue balls?

All right.

We at least have something to eat while we reflect?

Yes, as a matter of fact, we do, Brother Sam.

Just because I’m militant doesn’t mean I don’t know how to have a good time.

(Cassius snaps fingers)

What’d I do?

MALCOLM: Yeah!

Ice cream.

I don’t suppose you have any beer in there?

Stupid question.

Chips, then. Maybe chips?

Uh… I’m sure I can send one of the brothers out to get some, Sam.

Well, what flavor is it?

Well, we have vanilla, Jimmy…

…and vanilla.

Shit.

How’s that for irony?

Last time I checked, Brother Sam, vanilla was your flavor of choice.

(laughing): Ooh-hoo-hoo.

SAM: All right.

That’s right, Jack.

Hey, fellas, I’m just saying, can’t we at least go some place hoppin’?

The entire city of Miami is celebrating Cassius’s win.

Yeah, they was all expecting to be partying with Sonny Liston tonight.

Yeah, and it seem to me it’s not a great idea, your first night as world champ, starting it off by throwing away all that goodwill.

MALCOLM: Goodwill? Goodwill from whom?

Goodwill from the press, who threw their support behind that thug, hoping that he’d put our young brother in his place?

No, you out of your mind, Sam.

And besides, besides, part of the reason we’re here is to celebrate Cassius’s official transition.

Malc!

Transition?

To what?

Shall we give them the news, Cassius?

Well, I suppose if, uh, you want to tell them, Malcolm.

SAM: Now, wait a second.

You ain’t about to say what I think you gonna say?

I’ve been thinking long and hard about it, boys, and I’m officially joining the Nation of Islam.

(Jim chuckles)

Cassius, are you sure that’s such a good idea?

CASSIUS: Why not?

Well, I thought this Muslim jive was something to rile up white folks.

No, it’s no jive, Sam.

The cameras are off, Malcolm.

He became champion on his own terms.

Naysayers be damned.

SAM: We can’t all just go out and declare the white man the devil.

Oh? Why not?

Huh?

We’re entering a new time where no one can hold us back from voicing our honest opinions.

Look at Jimmy.

Jimmy hasn’t bitten his tongue for one day of his career.

Well, you ain’t lying.

Oh, so you agree with him?

Look, man,

I’m always in the hot seat, all right?

But as long as I keep winning, ain’t one fucking thing any racist poot butt can do about it.

That’s right.

Well, if it’s such a good idea, why don’t you become a Muslim, too?

Shit. Have you tasted my grandmother’s pork chops?

(laughs)

And…

I like white women, too. Fuck that.

Oh, you’ll see the light soon enough, Jimmy.

I don’t need to, hanging around you.

Ain’t you ever heard of guilt by association?

Well, you already do have plenty of nice suits.

You given any thought to switching from straight to bow ties?

Malcolm, you ain’t never gonna catch me dressed up as one of your soldiers of Allah.

Ah, no. I-I’ve already seen it, Jimmy.

Th-Those pictures I took of you going to practice looking sharp as a razor.

(Jim laughs)

The spitting image, Cash, of a-a powerful, Black Muslim warrior.

I know it.

A photo never lies, Jimmy.

Photo never lies. It-it al…

SAM: Malcolm?

CASSIUS: What’s wrong, Malcolm?

Just remembered I left my new camera in the car.

Better go get it.

Now?

Yeah. I just got that camera.

Oh, don’t sweat it, man.

The bodyguards have this whole place locked down.

They’ll see anybody messing with your car.

Is everything all right, Brother Malcolm?

Yes, brother. I just need to get something from the car.

I’ll accompany you.

Watch the door.

Yes, brother.

Hey, what’s wrong, brother?

Ain’t your shit safe here in the Black community?

(laughs)

KAREEM: Your friend is quite the truculent one.

Well, entertaining white people in the South will bring the truculence out of any Black man.

(Cassius grunting, muttering)

♪ ♪

What are you, a giant fucking baby?

No, man.

I can’t help it.

I’m full of energy.

Well, this party’s off to a hoppin’ start.

I-I just know we are not fittin’ to sit here in this little-ass room all night.

It’s not like anyone else is planning a victory party.

The diner downstairs is open all night.

We could throw this shindig there if Malcolm would lighten the hell up.

CASSIUS: He’s just looking out for me, Sam.

SAM: He’s a big boy, Cash.

CASSIUS: Still, you ain’t got to antagonize him.

He should be able to handle being called out on his shit, especially since he’s made such a name for himself calling everyone else out on theirs.

CASSIUS: Why you got to push back so hard on everything, Sam?

SAM: ‘Cause I’m a pushy motherfucker.

And I ain’t changing.

CASSIUS: Oh, grow up.

Mm… you two.

(silverware clanging)

You want some ice cream?

Everything okay, brother?

Yes, brother.

I should make a call while I’m down here.

Well, is the phone in your room not working?

I prefer privacy when I speak to my wife.

I’d rather not send all the fellas out.

I’ll be right back.

You know the thing that’ll make this a little bit better?

CASSIUS: What?

Sam’s stash.

Fuck y’all.

Come on, man. Where is it?

No. No way.

Hey, check his guitar case.

For what?

Just look, fool.

Ain’t gonna find it.

I bet he will find something.

I bet you that cheap purple suit we will.

SAM: Don’t drink all my shit, neither.

(Cassius exhales)

Yeah.

(sniffs)

Attallah?

ATTALLAH (over phone): Hi, Daddy.

Hey, sweetheart.

What are you doing up so late?

You woke me up.

Oh, I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

(yawns)

I didn’t mean to wake you up, uh, but I’m glad you answered because I’ve got something for you.

You want it now?

Okay.

All right, well, I need you to get down from the stool.

I want you to take three big jumps forward.

Now look to your left.

Now what’s in front of you?

ATTALLAH: Books.

MALCOLM: Books, that’s right.

Now I want you to take one of those books.

ATTALLAH: Which one?

MALCOLM: It’s your favorite number.

One, two, three, four, five, six.

MALCOLM: There you go.

Now open it up.

Take a look inside.

You see it?

Thank you, Daddy.

You be a good girl

and you read that to your sisters, okay?

Okay.

BETTY: Attallah. It’s time to go to bed.

ATTALLAH: It’s Daddy.

I understand, sweetheart, but it’s time to go to bed.

ATTALLAH: Can I talk to him for a few more minutes?

Please?

(chuckles)

Okay.

(chuckles)

Where are you?

(knock on door)

CASSIUS: Who is it?

Can I get anything for you, brothers?

Nah, man. We’re all good in here.

JAMAAL: Oh, good. Good.

Good.

Say, champ, you don’t suppose you could see your way to signing an autograph for me?

Uh, yeah, of course, man.

Yeah, come on in.

(Jim chuckles)

Yeah. You got to make sure your superior officer don’t catch you?

Oh, yeah. Brother Kareem can run a pretty tight ship, but he’s committed to teaching the young brothers discipline.

Yeah, well, I never been a fan of no tight ship.

Oh, quit messing with the young brother, Jim.

Here, give him an autograph.

JAMAAL: Oh, yeah.

That-That’d be great. And, actually, champ, I-I’m a couple of years older than you.

(chuckles): Oh, see, I’m such an overachiever, sometimes I forget.

(laughs)

JIM: Yeah.

Now, you know Jim Brown here is the strongest man in the whole world?

Oh, yeah. See, I’m from Toledo.

We’ve been watching Mr. Brown’s games for years now.

Actually, I almost got to go to one.

Oh, yeah?

Yeah.

Nah, I didn’t have no money.

(door closes)

Oh.

Mr. Cooke.

If you wouldn’t mind.

(laughs softly)

SAM: Oh, sure thing, brother.

Hey, man.

Jamaal.

Yeah.

Mind if I ask you a question?

Yeah, sure.

You like being a Muslim?

Well, it… it beats being a purse thief from Toledo.

(laughs)

Yeah, I know that’s right.

No, I mean, but…

I mean, was it hard, you know, giving up stuff?

JAMAAL: Well, I reckon so.

I used to love me a nice Champale every now and then.

Certainly miss my grandmama’s pork chops.

See?

JAMAAL: And it can be difficult.

You know, like, the schedule.

CASSIUS: Yeah.

I mean, but none of that’s gonna apply to you anyway, so…

CASSIUS: What you mean?

JAMAAL: I’m just saying, I don’t think you’ll be spending much time handing out pamphlets is all.

(chuckles): Yeah. Yeah, I suppose you’re right.

Say, man.

Do you have any regrets?

Oh, regrets? I…

JIM: You know, with hitching your cart to the Muslim train.

JAMAAL: Yeah. Uh…

Yeah.

Yes, um…

I th… I-I think you can say I do.

Really?

I regret that I didn’t join up when I was even younger.

Ah.

Oh.

JAMAAL: This kid named Rollo used to chase me home from school every damn day.

He’s the reason I stopped going.

CASSIUS: Oh.

JAMAAL: Now, I reckon if I would’ve gotten with the brothers sooner, we could’ve nipped it in the bud and put a foot in Rollo’s ass. You know what I’m saying?

Yeah, you don’t need religion for that, kid.

You could just join a gang.

What’s the damn difference?

Anyway, I-I better get going before Brother Kareem gets back.

Hey, we’re all proud of you, champ.

Aw.

Thanks, brother.

Yeah.

(chuckles)

(opens drawer)

(closes drawer)

(unscrews flask)

JIM: Drink up while you can.

♪ ♪

(grunts)

Damn.

Mm-hmm.

(clears throat)

(chuckling)

Betty.

BETTY: Malcolm.

He did it.

I heard.

(laughing): Praise Allah.

(laughs)

(inhales)

(crying)

Betty.

Are you crying?

(chuckles)

I’m just… happy.

Oh.

(car engine starts)

So am I.

So am I.

And is he going to…

He’ll be announcing tomorrow morning that he’s a Muslim.

(exhales)

Well, do you think he’ll go along with your plan?

Well, it’s too soon to tell, but, uh, I feel good about it.

Oh, Malcolm.

You were the only one who believed in him. (chuckles)

It’s only fitting that you and Cassius be blessed in this way.

That you do this thing together.

Well, I really do believe in him, Betty.

Well, he believes in you, too.

As well as he should.

(chuckles)

Hey, Cash.

Can I tell you something?

Of course, man, anything.

I did a movie.

You produced a movie?

Nah, man, I starred in one.

(chuckles)

Oh, well, that’s great, Jim, but you’re not an actor.

That’s what I told the cat who wanted to cast me, but he put me in his Western anyway.

A Western, huh?

Yeah.

Okay, so, uh, who-who do you play?

I play a buffalo soldier.

I’m part of this special unit, and, uh, we’re tracking this Confederate general.

He’s being protected by these Apaches.

Damn.

That sounds pretty good.

Yeah.

So you’re the hero?

One of them.

But my character gets killed about halfway through, so when…

(laughing)

What?

No, nothing, man. I just…

I should’ve known as soon as you said “Black action hero,” the next part of that sentence was gonna be “who gets killed.”

Hmm.

It went well, man.

I think there might be a future for me in this.

Being the sacrificial Negro in some Western ain’t the same as the NFL, man.

But how much you getting paid to be in this movie?

(chuckles)

$37,000.

Damn.

Mm-hmm.

That’s pretty good.

It’s a lot easier on my knees, too.

Yeah, but the only reason they want you in that movie is ’cause people know you from football.

I mean, you need the game, just like I need boxing.

We’re all just gladiators, Cash, with our ruler sitting up there in his box, giving us the thumbs up or the thumbs down.

Well, I don’t want no damn ruler.

All right?

Shit, it’s only so much running one man can do, anyway.

Oh, speak for yourself.

I plan to run, dance and fight well into my old age.

MALCOLM: Is everything okay at the house?

The girls behaving themselves?

As best as they can.

(both laugh)

♪ ♪

Malcolm?

Yes?

Is everything okay?

Yes.

Yes, everything’s fine. Uh-huh.

(phone booth door opens)

Evening.

Hi, Sam Cooke. (laughs)

SAM: Hey!

I was wondering what was taking you so long to find a camera.

I had to check in with Betty.

(imitates whip cracking)

Well, shouldn’t you be checking in with Barbara at the hotel?

Nah, she’s on her way back to Los Angeles.

I hope I haven’t unnecessarily kept you away from her.

No.

What you looking at?

Let’s make our way back to the hotel, Sam.

Oh, here they come.

My goodness.

You must have super hearing for real.

I’m Jim motherfucking Brown.

(both laugh)

Hey, uh, remember, man, just don’t say anything about the movie shit.

Why are you embarrassed about it?

It’s not a big deal.

Just don’t say a goddamn thing.

Mum’s the word.

SAM: Thank you.

Brother Malcolm.

SAM: What are you handsome, rich…

KAREEM: Brother Malcolm.

Is there anything I can help you with?

Uh, no, brother. We’re-we’re doing just fine.

Well, you know where I am if you need me.

God is great.

MALCOLM: Yes, he is.

♪ ♪

JIM: What’s with him?

SAM: He thinks someone’s following him.

You didn’t see those two white guys across the street, Sam?

I know when I’m being watched.

SAM: How you know they wasn’t watching me?

Shit, I’m famous.

CASSIUS: They ain’t all after you, Malcolm.

Yeah, Hoover’s lackeys have been following me around so long, they know where I’m gonna be before I do.

See what happens when you don’t get enough exercise?

Your mind goes haywire.

Yeah, as a matter of fact, maybe some exercise is just what we all need.

What say we stretch our legs, boys?

SAM: Are you serious?

As a heart attack.

MALCOLM: I know when I’m being watched, Sam.

Well, your paranoia is really cramping my style, Malcolm.

Come on, just ’cause you can’t see bugs don’t mean they ain’t in the house, Sam.

SAM: Up on this dirty-ass roof.

Why don’t you be like Bing Crosby about that shit, man, and accentuate the motherfucking positive?

Look at this view.

(sighing)

CASSIUS: I bet they’re doing them for me.

(all chuckle)

It’s nice, ain’t it, Malcolm?

Yeah, it’s most definitely soothing, Cash.

The air up here is cooler.

Far away from the prying eyes of your G-men.

Yeah, well, you joke all you want, Sam, but I’m telling you it’s got worse since the tension between me and Mr. Muhammad.

I met with a writer in New York a few weeks back.

There were two guys following us through the airport.

Swear it was the same two.

I thought you didn’t trust writers.

Oh.

This one was a brother, and…

well, this meeting was important.

I figure I’d better start getting my life story documented in my own words while I can.

What are you talking about, man?

Jimmy, there’s, uh… there’s been this feeling permeating the air as of late.

Uh, anger?

Anxiety?

Humidity.

(chuckles)

MALCOLM: More like menace.

Foreboding or…

…death.

(fireworks exploding)

Well, Jim’s quitting football to become a movie star, y’all.

Cassius! What the fuck?

Sorry, man. I had to do something to lighten the mood.

Holy shit, you are?

Oh. Look, hey, hey, man.

I’m not quitting football, okay?

I’m just exploring other options for after it ends.

SAM: I think it’s a great idea.

Yeah, you get that career going, Jim.

Yeah, well, L.A.’s the land of milk and honey, baby.

We can do whatever we want to out there.

You can’t live in Beverly Hills.

Don’t need to. Got our own Black Beverly Hills.

And we got the better view.

Baldwin Hills, baby.

Top of the hill, looks out over the whole city, mountains in the distance.

Nicer than Harlem.

Hell of a lot nicer than Overtown.

No tenements or slumlords.

It’s just sunshine, pools and beaches.

Don’t need no Green Book telling you where you can and can’t go.

Hmm.

The only color that matters out in Cali is that green.

You sound like you might be getting a bit seduced out there, brother.

Yeah, you know, I’m the one doing all the seducing.

Well, you watch out for this one, Jimmy.

He’ll lead you down the primrose path.

Shit, the only disasters out in Hollywood are up there on that movie screen.

Now, trust me, Jimmy, there’s a real future in it.

Well, I should be in movies, too, then.

Damn, I’m too pretty not to be up on screen.

SAM: There you go!

And you, too, Malcolm.

Yeah?

Mm, you could be our-our director.

(laughs)

Come on, show us the camera.

SAM: Come on, man, show us the camera.

MALCOLM: Well… it’s a pretty fantastic camera.

SAM: All right.

MALCOLM: Betty got it for me.

It’s a Rolleiflex…

Bee sting!

Oh! -That cam… camera…

Damn, come on!

Hey. Hey, guys, over here.

Sam, please, please. Sam!

Ha!

MALCOLM: Jimmy, what, you blew your wig?!

Give me the damn camera!

(others laughing)

You lost your mind?

You know how much this thing costs?

I think we done hit a nerve.

Malcolm done dropped the affected speech and everything.

Yeah, that’s right.

I got more rep than all three…

One, two, three of you clowns put together.

Oh, come on, man.

Rep don’t carry over from decade to decade.

Tired-ass 1940s slang you using.

JIM: That was definitely not hep, daddy-o.

SAM: Talking about “blew your wig.”

Just show us the camera, Negro.

Fine, just stop joking for a second.

Okay.

(laughing)

Jesus.

SAM and JIM: “You blew your wig.”

(Jim laughs)

“Blew your wig.”

Oh, he’s taking a picture.

Oh, uh, hold on. Wait.

(chuckling, muttering)

(clears throat)

Looking sharp now.

MALCOLM: It’s a Rolleiflex 3.5.

A German twin-lens reflex camera.

It’s a fine piece of engineering, gents.

You see, it has this, uh, pop-out viewfinder.

Well, it looks bulky.

MALCOLM: No, Jimmy, it’s a work of art.

JIM: Hmm.

(camera clicks)

Yeah. Besides, uh, you know, I’ve always got my Nikon handy for taking photos on the move.

Like when you’re running from the Feds?

(chuckles)

Yeah.

Or, uh, riding on a camel.

Mm. Where to?

Mecca.

(Jim chuckles softly)

Ah, you’re going to Saudi Arabia?

MALCOLM: Mm-hmm.

Yes.

All Muslims are supposed to do it at least once in their lives, Sam.

And, well, since I’m not doing any speaking right now, this… this feels like as good a time as any.

Oh, maybe I’ll take a few detours while I’m out there.

Be quite amazing to see the Great Pyramids.

Man, that sounds fantastic.

Oh, it will be.

If your schedule permits, you should join me.

Hey, count me in.

JIM: Yeah?

Count me in.

I mean, fine African sisters.

Come on, Jim, I know you’re down with that.

Oh, with the ladies, most definitely.

But I’m up for another part.

So, see, in between that and camp, I won’t have time for a trip to Africa.

Hey, you should consider coming as well, Sam.

Leaving this country in the rearview for a while is a great way to get some perspective.

Nah, I’m busy, too.

One can never be too busy for some added perspective.

SAM: Nah, I’m swamped, man.

And I got to prep to go back to the Copa.

(laughing): Oh, come on, man.

You need to go on and forget about the Copa.

It was not that bad.

CASSIUS: Come on, man.

All right, fine, maybe it was that bad.

Well, y-you don’t shuck and jive enough for those ofay tastes.

I may not dance around a stage like Jackie or James Brown, but that’s not what I’m selling, all right?

I’m selling my voice, my words, my image… my-my message.

MALCOLM: Your message? Hmm.

The problem is, at the Copa, you have to sell that message to a bunch of white folks.

That don’t matter. They got souls, don’t they?

And every living thing with a soul can have that soul tapped into.

I thought you’d know that.

Do you think, just maybe, your energy’s misdirected, Sam, trying to tap into white people’s souls?

No, I don’t.

If I win them over, playing our music, I’m-I’m knocking down doors for everybody.

You watch and see.

It’s not gonna always be the pop charts over here, Black music charts over there.

One day, it’s gonna be one chart…

Mm.

…with one music, for all people.

What kind of message are you sending, though, by doing one show for white folks and a completely different show for Black folks, Sam?

(scoffs)

You… N-No, listen to me.

You’re performing in-in places where the only Black people not onstage are the ones serving the food.

Don’t you think I know that?

Can’t tell you how many times I wanted to reach out and punch somebody, but you c…

Then, then, then, then strike with the weapon that you have, man, your voice!

Black people… We-we standing up.

Mm-hmm.

We-we speaking out.

Sam, you have possibly one of the most effective, beautiful outlets of us all.

Y-You’re not using it to help the cause, brother.

The hell I’m not.

I got the masters to my songs.

I started a label.

I’m producing tons of Black artists.

Don’t you think my determining my creative and business destiny is every bit as inspiring to people as you standing up on a podium trying to piss them off?

Oh, wait a minute. I forgot.

That’s all you do!

Sam, I do plenty.

Oh, do you? Let’s see. You suck at sports.

Well, I-I was never much into football.

SAM: Can’t sing.

Damn sure can’t make shit out of no peanut.

Is there a point to this rant, Sam?

My point is that sometimes I feel like you’re just like all the rest of them people out there, obsessed with the stars.

(laughing)

Oh, no, no, no, Cash.

SAM: You look around. Look around.

Let him finish.

SAM: Which one of us don’t belong?

Don’t belong?

(chuckles): Don’t belong.

Brother Sam, the only person here white people seem to like…

That would be you.

(laughs)

Hey, y’all need to cool it now, man.

You know, you always managed to just be around for shit, haven’t you?

Maybe your daddy should’ve beaten you better.

Jimmy, I’m gonna kick this motherfucker’s ass.

Oh, whoa.

You can let him go. Let him go.

Everything all right, Brother Malcolm?

SAM: What do you want?

Hey. Hey.

Get your motherfucking hands off me!

Hey. Hey.

Oh, I don’t think so.

Our job here is to protect the brother minister.

Listen, Kareem, I don’t need your protection, brother.

Well, now that that’s settled, away you go.

Negro, I will leave when I am good…

You best think long and hard ‘fore you wag that tongue at me.

God is great.

MALCOLM: Yeah, greater than any of us.

Ah, yeah.

♪ ♪

Your security people are assholes.

Yeah, I don’t choose them.

What’s wrong with you, Sam?

You’re supposed to be smooth, man.

Ain’t easy being smooth with this sandpaper nigga around.

(sighs): Shit.

(sighs)

You two done fighting now?

SAM: I wasn’t trying to fight nobody.

That’s Malcolm.

Always pissed off.

“Pissed off”?

You say “pissed off,” Brother Sam?

You know, what is going on around us, it should make everyone angry.

Uh, you know, you bourgeois Negroes, you’re too happy, uh, with your scraps to really understand what is at stake here.

What, you-you think Cash being the world champ is gonna protect him from the devils that harassed him from the first day that he got here?

Mm, I’d like to see them try.

MALCOLM: Huh? And Jimmy.

JIM: Hmm?

Jimmy is the best football player in the world, but he is also giving money to Black-owned businesses.

What, you-you don’t think that-that threatens a lot of white people?

Hmm?

You don’t think the FBI is probably starting to follow him around, too?

Oh, man, now you’re gonna fucking jinx me.

And that is why, Brother Sam, this-this movement that we are in is called a struggle.

Because we are fighting for our lives!

(laughs)

And what words are we hearing from you, brother?

Mm, Mr. Soul.

(needle drops, record crackles)

♪ Darling, you send me ♪

♪ I know you send me ♪

Or maybe this one.

♪ Darling, y… ♪

(music stops)

♪ I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you ♪

♪ I love you, I love you, I love you ♪

♪ I love you, I love you, I love you ♪

(snaps fingers)

♪ I love you, I love you, I love you ♪

(laughs)

♪ I love you, I love you ♪

♪ For sentimental reasons ♪

(laughs)

♪ I hope you do believe me… ♪

Oh.

Wow, Sam.

(music stops)

Your music is deep, brother.

Hey, man, I love them songs.

Back-never-facing-the-door, bean-pie-eating, self-righteous motherfucker.

And, to boot, most of them are versions of the church songs that nurtured you.

You-you twisted them and you perverted them to feed a-a white crowd.

SAM: That is bullshit.

Most of the artists I work with are gospel sing…

And do you have any idea what I’ve given back to the church?

Do you know… h-how many times do I have to hear that, Jimmy?

You know, that has got to be the greatest fault of you so-called, uh, successful Negroes.

You’ll do something detrimental…

Here he goes.

…to your own people with the promise that-that, after you get rich, then you’re gonna make it back up to them.

With-with a handout.

Or some gesture of patronage.

Malcolm, Malcolm, all right.

No, Jimmy.

And what you don’t get, Brother Sam: you’ve made it, brother.

But for all the others, the majority of people who had their own self-destructive dreams and didn’t make it, what they left behind?

No, all they left behind is a legacy of negativity!

But that’s okay, ’cause they all meant well.

JIM: Malcolm, will you please have some damn ice cream?

You will never be loved by the people you’re trying so hard to win over.

Never.

You’re just a windup toy in a music box.

A-A monkey.

That’s what you are.

You’re a monkey dancing for an organ grinder to them.

(whistles)

Y’all pulled out the knives.

And if I get cut, I’m fittin’ to hurt somebody.

(sighs)

MALCOLM: Cassius, who-who were those English boys you-you were hanging out with a couple days ago?

CASSIUS: The Beatles.

MALCOLM: Yes, The “Be-a-tles.”

(Malcolm scoffs)

All that time you spent on the road, Sam, entertaining the children of bigots, and at the end of the day, white folks would still rather import their popular music.

CASSIUS: Just hold on one second.

Now, yeah, The Beatles, th-they’re funny… but they ain’t no Sam Cooke.

(chuckles softly)

They’re-they’re… they’re more of a fad.

Yeah, well, if not them, then-then someone else, Cash.

The bottom line: this is too important a time, brother, to be wasting a-a brilliant and-and creative mind on pandering.

And it’s too damn hot in here to be wearing that blazer.

So what’s your point?

My-my point is, Brother Sam, that I am just one voice in this struggle.

Just one.

And Cassius, Cassius… He’s another who-who pushes us forward with his fists and with his words.

And Jimmy, Jimmy pushes us forward with his fearlessness and-and his relentlessness.

My point is that you, brother, you could be the loudest voice of us all.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad says that if we…

No, hold on, hold on.

Now, I ain’t ask you what the Honorable Elijah Muhammad thought.

I asked you what you thought.

There you go with,

“The Honorable Elijah Muhammad says this, Honorable Elijah Muhammad says that.”

And when the Honorable Elijah Muhammad tells you to shut the fuck up, you damn sure do that, too.

No.

What is going on between the Nation and me, Sam, is way more complicated.

But you still obey them.

When they tell you to come out here and-and recruit Cassius to become a member of something you don’t even seem to believe!

What are you talking about? I’m not making… I’m not… I’m not making Cassius do anything!

Ca… He came to me for insight.

He-he had questions. (stammers)

His passion for Islam comes from a pure place, Sam.

CASSIUS: “Passion” is…

(exhales)

…kind of a strong word.

Well, you couldn’t stop talking about how excited you were to come out with your faith to the world, Cash.

True.

True. I was. I am. It’s just that…

What is it?

If we’re being completely honest and all, I guess being a Muslim sounded like a much better idea before tonight.

How could you have any second thoughts, Cash? I…

You’re on top of the world. I-I don’t understand.

He didn’t actually think he was gonna win tonight, Malcolm.

Cash?

Course I knew.

I’m the best… (exhales)

I’m the greatest there ever will be.

I’m-I’m just saying that…

Easy, Cassius.

No, I’m good.

I’m just a little nervous is all.

That’s natural, ain’t it?

Malcolm.

SAM: It takes a hustler to see a hustle.

Say, let me ask you something, Mr. Know-It-All.

How is it helpful for Black people to run their businesses different than everyone else’s?

Dumber than everyone else’s?

No.

No one’s accused you of making bad business decisions, Sam.

You might as well have.

You think I don’t know about the British Invasion?

I invested in the British Invasion.

I have these protégés.

Valentinos.

Five Womack brothers.

The youngest one, Bobby, wrote this song, “It’s All Over Now.”

Great tune.

The band records it. It’s fantastic.

All over the R&B charts.

It even went to number 94 on Billboard’s Hot 100.

Then I get a call from England.

One of these British bands wants to record a cover version.

The Beatles?

Nah, Cash. They call themselves the Rolling Stones.

Oh, like the Muddy Waters song.

SAM: Exactly.

So, Bobby’s like, you know, “No damn way, man.

That’s our song, man.”

But… I get the final say, and I’m looking at the big picture.

And I give the Rolling Stones permission to record it.

You did?

I did.

Mm, mm, mm.

And the Rolling Stones’ version of the song goes all the way to number one.

Not on the R&B charts.

Pop charts.

But, of course, you know, once this version of the song gets big,

Bobby’s version just disappears.

Right? Falls off the R&B charts. It’s just gone.

So, of course, Bobby’s crushed.

Yes, as well he should be, Sam.

Let me finish.

He’s crushed for about six months.

Because, six months later, that first royalty check comes in.

(snaps fingers)

And because Bobby’s the writer and my company owns the rights to the song, that means every time…

(snapping fingers)

Some white girl buys a copy of that single, she putting money into my pockets.

Our pockets.

(Malcolm chuckling softly)

White boys out there touring around, they ain’t even know they working for us.

Next thing you know, Bobby’s like,

“The Rolling Stones want to cover any more versions of my songs?”

(chuckles) You know who gets paid more than the writer of a song that hits number 94 on the Billboard Hot 100?

Hmm?

The writer of a song that hits number one.

I already knew that.

Now Bobby knows it, too.

Tell me how it’s not empowerment.

Everybody talks about they want a piece of the pie.

Well, I don’t.

I want the goddamn recipe.

I congratulate you on being so shrewd, brother.

You just don’t get how everything’s not so black and white like you make it out to be.

In your mind, President Kennedy getting assassinated is just another one of those white devils getting what they deserve.

Well, I liked JFK, man.

My mama cried when he died.

Mine did, too.

How do you think it made me feel to have her see my friend on TV, talking about “good riddance”?

No. I-I didn’t, I didn’t say… No.

Sam, I didn’t say “good riddance.”

You said it was “chickens coming home to roost”!

Yes, I was trying to make a point, brother!

You were paraphrasing.

SAM: Tell you something else.

My whole family lives on the South Side of Chicago, not up in Harlem where you are.

The Black Muslims…

“The Nation of Islam” to you.

The Nation of Islam is huge in Chicago.

I know where Elijah Muhammad’s house is.

It’s the biggest one for miles around.

Looks like the mayor’s residence.

Oh, yeah. I been there for dinner.

Oh, you been there for dinner.

So you see how he lives like a pharaoh.

Never says nothing about the crooked Black alderman who’s running numbers, pushing drugs, doing all the things to hurt the community, meanwhile condemning those white devils.

Come off it, Malcolm.

(lighter clicks open)

(chuckles)

Oh, I got something for your ass.

SAM: ♪ Dum, da-dum, dum. ♪

(paper crinkling)

This is the clue that’s gonna solve the crime, Officer?

Oh, you could say that.

You know, I was thinking about this song I heard on the radio the other day, Sam.

It’s a song that made me think of you.

Turns out it’s pretty popular.

(“Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan playing)

♪ How many roads must a man walk down ♪

♪ Before you call him a man? ♪

♪ How many seas must a white dove sail ♪

♪ Before she sleeps in the sand? ♪

♪ Yes, and how many times must the cannonballs fly ♪

♪ Before they’re forever banned? ♪

♪ The answer, my friend ♪

♪ Is blowin’ in the wind ♪

♪ The answer is ♪

MALCOLM: Mm.

♪ Blowin’ in the wind… ♪

Mm-mm-mm!

Ooh!

(music stops)

I just love those lyrics.

Especially in the beginning.

“How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?”

It’s as though he’s asking, “How much do the oppressed have to do before they can be recognized as human beings?”

That really gets you thinking, don’t it?

I already know “Blowin’ in the Wind,” Malcolm.

I heard it when it first came out.

It didn’t make you angry?

Why would it?

Isn’t this Bob Dylan fella a white boy from Minnesota?

So what?

So?

This is a white boy from Minnesota who has nothing to gain from writing a song that speaks more to the struggles of our people, more to the movement, than anything that you have ever penned in your life, brother.

I-I know I’m not the shrewd businessperson you are, my brother, but since you say being vocally in the struggle is bad for business, why has this old song gone higher on the pop charts than anything you got out?

Why has this song gone higher

(chuckles): on the pop charts than anything you got out?

Hmm?

Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope.

Sam.

JIM: Come on, Sam.

Sam.

Come back here, man.

Sam!

Sam!

JIM: Goddamn it.

Good riddance.

That wasn’t necessary.

Yes, that absolutely was necessary, Cash.

We’re supposed to be friends, man!

Yes!

Well, I am his friend, and that is why

I am trying to give him a wake-up call!

There is no more room for anyone…

Not you, not me, not Jimmy, not Sam…

No one to be standing on the fence anymore!

Our people are literally dying in the streets every day!

Black people are dying!

Every day!

And a line has got to be drawn in the sand, Jimmy.

A line that says, “Either you stand on this side with us, or you stand over on that side against us,” Cash.

And I-I believe,

I believe in that brother’s potential, Jimmy, too much!

Too much to let him stay over on the other side.

CASSIUS: I better go get him before he drives off.

(breathing sharply)

(door opens, closes)

(groans softly)

(grunts)

(breathing heavily)

You know… I always find it kind of funny how you light-skinned cats end up being so damn militant.

How…

(chuckles)

(chuckles)

What do you mean?

Well, you are yellow as the sun.

When I think about who the most outspoken, consequences-be-damned brothers out there are, it’s always you light-skinned boys.

You know, you, W.E.B. Du Bois, Adam Clayton Powell…

Well, I-I… I never pay any attention to complexions, Jimmy, because we are all, we are all Black people.

Don’t suddenly talk to me like I’m stupid.

You know we are all far from the same.

When the white folks ain’t around, you see the-the light-skinned girls gather together in one corner, all the dark-skinned girls gather in the other and…

You know.

Coming up, light-skinned cats get it harder from Black people sometimes than they do from the white people.

Yeah. What are you trying to say?

I just wonder if all this pushing and “hard line” this and “hard line” that is really about trying to prove something to white people, or… or, Malcolm, is it about trying to prove something to Black people?

(Malcolm chuckles)

Oh, well, I… It’s, uh… It’s a very interesting way of looking at things, I suppose.

Yeah.

Just something I noticed is all.

Mm-hmm.

I just don’t think you should begrudge Sam for being about his business.

He’s got to be.

I mean, if the goal is for us to be free, to really be free…

And you know it is.

…then the key is economic freedom.

And no one’s more economically free than Sam.

Shit, technically, he’s the only one of us not waiting on a paycheck from a white man.

Oh, I-I’m not waiting on no paycheck from no white man, Jimmy.

You don’t have a job, Negro.

(clears throat)

Well, I…

Shit. In the literal sense.

You-you… Yeah.

I know what you…

Yeah, I-I know, I know.

I know what you meant.

Hey, man.

You know, the one thing white folks are masters at is tapping into our passions to a point that we forget about the important stuff.

I thought you loved being the hero of the NFL.

A hero, you say?

Yeah?

I ain’t no damn hero to them.

No.

You see, Malcolm, some white folks… some white folks just cannot wait to pat themselves on the back for not being cruel to us.

Like we should be singing hosannas just because they found the kindness in their hearts to almost treat us like real human beings.

I mean, do… do you expect a dog to give you a medal for not kicking it that day?

Hmm?

I hate those motherfuckers morethan the rednecks who just put it all out there.

And I’ll be damned if I ever forget what they really think of me.

Well, I have no doubt that you won’t, Jimmy.

And the thing that I love about Sam…

…is that he doesn’t forget, either.

And he does not deserve you implying otherwise.

No, I’m not implying, J… I’m…

Jimmy, I am implying that brothers like Sam and you a-and Cassius…

You all are our greatest weapons.

We are not anyone’s weapons, Malcolm.

You need to be, Jimmy.

You need to be for-for us to win.

♪ ♪

(sniffles)

(grunts softly)

(Malcolm exhales softly)

(sniffles)

Hey, man. Hey, hey.

Malcolm.

Brother.

(exhales)

Talk to me.

(smacks lips)

Tell me now, what is going on?

(Malcolm inhales, exhales)

(inhales, exhales)

Ooh…

Ain’t no slug bug.

(chuckles)

I know that mother be trucking.

Man.

(chuckles): Oh.

(laughs)

Oh, man, they got bread. Hold on.

Y’all got any spare change?

Uh, sure, kid. Hang on.

How’s it going?

How’s it going, youngblood?

Oh.

Y’all split that.

Thank you.

Hey, congratulations, champ.

Hit me up with it.

You got it, brother.

“Champ.”

I could get used to that.

Watch out.

Malcolm will have ’em calling you “Champ X” like a damn fool.

(sighs)

Malcolm’s had it rough these past few months.

Oh, Malcolm’s had it rough?

He’s getting worn down.

♪ Jesus ♪

♪ Wash ♪

♪ My troubles ♪

♪ Oh. ♪

So, Muslim, huh?

It won’t change my friendship with you and Jim.

You don’t know that.

The hell I don’t.

We have to be there for each other.

Why?

Because can’t nobody else understand what it’s like being one of us except us.

“One of us”?

You know.

Young, Black, righteous, famous, unapologetic.

There’s gonna be a target on your back.

It was gonna be there anyway.

This ain’t about civil rights.

Those activists ain’t do squat about them four little girls that got bombed in Alabama.

That’s why they’re preaching to a deaf congregation, ’cause they ain’t giving Black people what they really want.

And what’s that?

What you have but take for granted.

Power.

Black power.

I like the sound of that.

So do I.

My man.

So do they.

Power just means a world where we’re safe to be ourselves.

Mm.

To look like we want.

To think like we want.

Without having to answer to anybody for it.

And after all we put in, don’t Black folks deserve that much?

Mm-hmm.

We can do whatever we want now, brother.

So, tell me.

Hmm?

What do you want to do?

I want a damn party.

(laughing)

I mean, don’t you?

Yeah.

So let’s go.

Ooh.

(engine starts)

(engine rumbling loudly)

CASSIUS: Miami, are you ready?!

The champ!

Look now! You’ll never see something so pretty!

♪ ♪

(door opens)

Hey, hey, the gang’s all here.

(door closes)

Good. You caught him.

SAM: I wasn’t running nowhere.

I am ready to take care of, uh, hosting duties, though.

Really?

Malcolm, you’ve had the floor long enough.

It’s time to take this party to the Fontainebleau. (whoops)

♪ We’re having a party. ♪

(Cassius hums)

You’ve obviously forgotten Brother Cassius no longer drinks.

And you obviously haven’t smelled his breath in the last hour.

Hey, let it go, man.

Let it go.

(clears throat)

Malcolm.

SAM: Okay.

All right.

Sam, what is this, uh, this problem between us, Sam?

I don’t got no problem with you.

I got a problem with this guy.

You used to be, you used to be such a fun cat.

Now you acting in private the way you are on camera.

Sam, I-I… was always this person.

Maybe, but you were also always so much… more.

Fellas, y’all ready?

You remember, uh, the first time we met, Sam?

I’m tired of answering your questions, man.

Is that a no?

(sighs)

Of course I do.

It was, uh… Harlem.

You didn’t even know who I was.

Uh-huh.

I said that at the time, but I knew who you were.

A lot of the brothers had been requesting shifts outside the Apollo that week.

Is that a fact?

That’s a fact.

And I understood because I caught one of your shows in Chicago.

You’ve been to one of my shows?

No. I’ve, uh, been to… five of them.

Including the one in Boston.

(chuckles): Shit. Boston?

Really?

Mm-hmm. Really.

(laughing)

Well, hell, what happened in Boston?

You mind if I recount the story, Sam?

No, no. Go ahead.

MALCOLM: Yeah?

Yeah.

(cheering and applause)

Well, uh, this show, um, Sam, he was playing with Jackie Wilson…

♪ You’ve been gone away ♪

♪ You know my heart… ♪

I was there to see Sam, of course, but Jackie was the opener.

He was doing his usual routine, shuckin’ and jivin’ like those types do.

♪ Lonely teardrops ♪

Not really my cup of tea, you know.

♪ My pillows never dry of ♪

♪ Lonely teardrops… ♪

But thankfully, it came to an end, and, you know, Sam was getting ready to come onstage.

(holding high note)

(cheering)

Yeah, I knew he was about to class this joint up.

Yeah! Hey!

(cheering and applause continue)

I warmed them up for you, brother.

Don’t fuck up now.

(scoffs)

(pats chest)

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s give it up for Sam Cooke!

MALCOLM: Sam comes, uh, strolling out onto the stage.

Cash, the crowd…

Boom. Wow.

Ah! Boston!

(cheering)

Thank you.

WOMAN: Sam, I love you!

MALCOLM: Sam steps up to the microphone, wraps his hand around it… You know how Sam does, like, uh, he caresses it, like, uh, one might caress a delicate piece of crystal.

(chuckles)

Or a pretty little fox.

An NFL championship trophy.

You want me to finish this story, Jimmy?

Oh, go ahead.

Yeah. Like I was saying, he-he… he caresses the mic, pulls it close to his lips, opens his mouth…

♪ Darling, you… ♪

(feedback squealing)

Sound went out.

What?

Mm-hmm.

(audience murmuring)

That wasn’t the sound system, was it?

(audience booing)

The microphone is off!

MALCOLM: I know. H-How’s that for some bad luck?

Bad luck, my ass.

Jackie was always the king of sabotage.

MALCOLM: Regardless, Sam was now stuck onstage with no sound and a worked-up Boston crowd.

Well, things escalated quickly.

My band was out of there like some runaway slaves.

Where the fuck y’all going?

We’re musicians, not bodyguards, baby.

Good luck.

But Sam, he just, he just stood there on that stage.

(booing continues)

I remember thinking to myself, “This young brother is fittin’ to get himself killed.”

CASSIUS: W-Well, then what happened?

Something, uh…

Something amazing happened.

(booing continues)

Y’all know “Chain Gang”? All right, I’m-a, I’m-a do it a cappella, all right?

(speaking indistinctly)

MAN: I’ll kick your ass!

(angry chatter)

All right, let’s go.

All right.

Let’s go.

(grunting rhythmically)

(booing quiets)

Come on. (grunts)

(Malcolm grunting rhythmically)

(booing stops)

(audience stomping, grunting)

♪ All together, yeah ♪

(grunting, stomping)

♪ Everybody ♪

(Cassius grunts)

(rhythmic grunting and stomping continue)

Let me hear you.

♪ You got it, you got it ♪

♪ Sounds so good, yeah ♪

♪ Ah, yeah ♪

♪ That’s the sound of the men ♪

♪ Working on the chain ♪

♪ The gang ♪

♪ That’s the sound of the men ♪

♪ Working on the chain gang ♪

♪ All day long they’re singing… ♪

MALCOLM: Yeah, and I saw him up there, covered in sweat and… and singing to ’em.

But, you know, in the back where I was, you couldn’t hear anything except that chant.

(grunting and stomping drown out singing)

You know, and… you know what?

That was, uh… that was good enough.

Yes, that was… that was one hell of a show, Sam.

(stomping and grunting continue)

CASSIUS: That sounds like something.

It really was, Cash.

It really was.

Brother, you could move mountains without lifting a finger.

Listen, if-if I give you a hard time, it’s… you know, it’s only because I-I think so highly of you.

You know, you brothers, you-you all are-are our bright and shining future.

I… I never, I never lose sight of that.

Well, you’re part of that future, too, Malcolm.

(Cassius chuckles)

I’m flattered, really. I’m…

Taking the world on your shoulders is bad for your health.

Yeah, well, he won’t have to carry it by himself much longer.

‘Cause we gonna be in the Nation together.

Malcolm…

I know.

I know.

What is it?

Malcolm?

Well, like I said, my, um… my relationship with, uh, the Nation has… has gotten complicated.

I-I don’t know how much longer I’ll be in it.

Wait a second. You’re leaving the Nation of Islam?

I thought once you went in, you were in it for life.

(chuckles): I guess I’ll be, uh…

I’ll be putting that theory to the test, Sam.

CASSIUS: Why would you want to leave?

All the things you told me.

The things you showed me that the Nation does.

Oh, Cash, there’s… there’s lots of good and righteous brothers and sisters in the Nation, but it’s the leadership that has-has shown that it’s not up to the task.

Wait.

So you’re gonna help me cross over to being a Muslim and then quit being Muslim?

No. No, no, no. No, Cassius.

I will always, always be Muslim.

I-In, you know, in fact, I-I… I guess you could say, uh, I’m becoming more Muslim than ever.

I’m not understanding.

Well, uh… I’m not leaving just to be out alone in the world.

I’m…

I’m leaving to… I’m leaving to start a new organization, one-one that adheres more closely to the, uh, honest and, uh, righteous tenets of Islam.

Who’s gonna be in this new organization?

I think lots of people will follow me over, Cash.

Especially, uh… i-if you-you come with me.

Say something.

You motherfucker!

Wait, wait, wait, wait.

Hey, hey, Cash, Cash, Cash. Hey!

You’ve been using me!

No, no, brother, I’m trying to save you.

Wait.

You’re the only one that needs saving!

No.

MALCOLM: Cash.

(sighs)

Cash.

If you don’t believe in your heart I’ve been an honest friend to you, then-then you shouldn’t join me, brother.

If there’s any-any part of you that-that believes that our time together has been motivated in any way by selfishness or-or opportunism on my part… brother, I… brother, I encourage you, walk away from me.

Walk away from me with a clear mind and conscience, knowing that that is the right thing, that’s-that’s the only thing you can do.

MAN: Cassius Marcellus Clay, you in there, champ?

(knock on door)

MAN 2: Tell us about what happened…

JAMAAL: We got a bunch of reporters out here.

(reporters chattering)

There they are.

Some… someone must have saw me and Sam downstairs.

Uh, well, you can’t blame them for wanting a word from the new world champion.

(Cassius clears throat, sighs)

Yeah. (sniffs)

I guess I got to go talk to them, help them sell a few papers.

MALCOLM: Absolutely.

(sighs)

You coming?

Um…

Well, I…

I don’t have any comments to make right now, Cash. I…

(chuckles) And besides, they’re here to see you, brother.

Not here to see me.

I want you standing with me.

Very well.

Uh…

You brothers will excuse us.

(reporters clamoring)

CASSIUS: I told you suckers I was the greatest!

All of you must bow!

Oh, I think you guys…

This is one strange fucking night.

Yeah.

Hey, you know I know what’s going on out there, right?

Uh, yeah.

You know, Cassius, he out there talking to the press.

No, I mean out… out-out there.

I mean… just ’cause I haven’t released any records about the movement don’t mean I haven’t written any songs about the movement.

Come on, man. Look, you know Malcolm.

He’s all fire and brimstone about everything, man.

But when I heard the Bob Dylan song, I was mad, man.

Why?

‘Cause it’s fucking good.

Well, good. (chuckles)

Good.

You should feel competitive, man.

It’s not just ’cause it was good. It’s…

I felt like… felt like I should’ve written that song.

I mean, I’m-I’m calling myself “Mr. Soul,” and I… I haven’t written anything like that.

Why don’t you start?

I started working on something.

Um… started working on something the first day I heard the song.

Really?

Yeah, but it’s-it’s… it’s different.

And I haven’t even played it for a crowd yet.

How does it go?

All these so-called experts were all wrong.

Next time, don’t-don’t ask no bookies who’s gonna win.

You come to me. I’ll tell you who’s gonna win.

Cassius, uh, is it fair to assume that, since Malcolm X is standing here with you, that you’re seriously considering becoming a Muslim?

I’m not considering anything. I am a Muslim.

And from this day forward, I no longer want to be called by the name Cassius Clay.

REPORTERS: Mm.

That is a slave name.

What are we supposed to call you, then?

You will refer to me as Cassius X.

(laughter)

REPORTER: Malcolm, have you been giving Clay advice on his religious beliefs?

Look at that.

MALCOLM: Well, he’s my brother and… New heavyweight champion of the world.

MALCOLM: …my friend.

I express what I know and understand, but…

Cassius, he has a mind of his own, an understanding of his own.

Mm-hmm.

REPORTER 2: Uh, Cassius, are you gonna give Sonny Liston a rematch?

Cassius.

Cassius.

Cassius.

Oh, no, man. Come on.

Sonny Liston a rematch?

(chuckles)

He’s still in the hospital from after tonight.

(laughter, applause)

Say, man, now that this is out the way, don’t you think it’s about time to party?

I’d say so.

Yeah, definitely.

(cheering)

CASSIUS: Man, I’m so fast!

I’m so fast, after the fight, Miami Vice tried to give me a speeding ticket!

(cheering)

If you take Sonny Liston, Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano…

(clapping, encouraging chatter)

I’ll whup ’em all the same night!

(cheering)

That’s what I’ll do next time!

You know I’m the greatest.

OTHERS: Yeah!

Who’s the greatest?

OTHERS: You are!

That’s right.

Malcolm, come on. Put that thing down.

Come over here. Someone get a picture of us.

(assenting, applause)

Come on.

I want a picture with Malcolm. Come on.

Let’s see, man.

You know it’s right. That’s what I’m talking about.

Give me some, brothers.

That’s it. My brother.

My main man.

And you, too.

I told ’em! I told ’em.

I proved it. I was in Rome.

They said they had a man who could beat me.

MAN: Yeah!

Malcolm, come on.

Get over here.

I whupped him, too.

(cheering, applause)

♪ All night long ♪

♪ Somebody said it might take… ♪

Yes, sir.

You know, we came all the way down here to the Hampton House, and…

♪ All night long ♪

♪ So, come on and let the good time roll ♪

♪ We gon’ stay here till we soothe our souls ♪

♪ If it take all night long. ♪

(applause)

(laughs)

There it is. Huh?

Wow.

Come on over here.

Why, thank you.

All right.

How you doing, Johnny?

Fantastic.

Thank you so much for having me.

I’m great.

Sam, have a seat.

Fantastic.

(grunts)

Well, he sings well, doesn’t he, Ed?

Incredibly well, Johnny.

Thank you.

Sam, tell us.

How do you come up with so many great songs?

Uh, well, I just really try and observe what’s going on around me.

What do you mean?

Well, if you try and see what’s going on and figure out how people are thinking and really just determine the-the times of your day, well, I think you can always write something people will understand.

Would you mind singing one more song for us?

Would you like that, folks?

(applause)

(chuckling)

What do you say, Sam?

Got anything the people will understand?

I-I do have something that I’ve been working on, something new I haven’t really shared with anyone yet.

Anyone except for some friends of mine.

Well, that sounds great. We’d love to hear it.

All right, let’s do it.

All right.

Let’s do it.

(applause)

Ladies and gentlemen, once again, Mr. Sam Cooke.

♪ I was born ♪

♪ By the river ♪

♪ In a little tent ♪

♪ Oh, and just like the river ♪

♪ I’ve been running ♪

♪ Ever since ♪

♪ It’s been a long ♪

♪ A long time coming ♪

♪ But I know ♪

♪ Change gon’ come ♪

♪ Oh, yes, it will ♪

The world champion will no longer be known as Cassius Clay.

He will be known as Muhammad Ali.

(cheering, applause)

♪ It’s been too hard living ♪

♪ But I’m afraid to die ♪

♪ I don’t know what’s up there ♪

♪ Beyond the sky ♪

♪ It’s been a long ♪

♪ Long time coming, but I know ♪

(engine revs)

♪ Change gon’ come ♪

♪ Oh, yes, it will ♪

Betty, move, move, move, move.

Come on.

Girls, go.

♪ I go ♪

Go, go, go, go.

♪ To the movie ♪

No, Mommy!

♪ And I go downtown ♪

(frantic chatter)

Mommy… (indistinct chattering)

♪ Somebody keeps telling me ♪

♪ Don’t hang around ♪

♪ It’s been a long ♪

♪ A long time coming ♪

♪ But I know ♪

♪ Change gon’ come ♪

♪ Oh, yes, it will ♪

JIM: Because my filming schedule conflicts with the Cleveland Browns training camp and since the Browns have said that I have no option to return to camp late without incurring hefty fines, effective immediately, I am retiring from the NFL to pursue my movie career full-time.

Now, if y’all excuse me, I got to get back to work.

♪ Then I go ♪

♪ To my brother ♪

♪ I say, “Brother ♪

♪ Help me, please” ♪

♪ But he winds up ♪

♪ Knocking me ♪

♪ Back down on my knees ♪

♪ Whoa ♪

♪ There been time that I thought ♪

♪ I wouldn’t last for long ♪

♪ Now I think I’m able to ♪

♪ Carry on ♪

♪ It’s been a long ♪

♪ A long time coming ♪

♪ But I know ♪

♪ Change gon’ come ♪

♪ Oh, yes, it will. ♪

(“Speak Now” by Leslie Odom Jr. playing)

♪ Listen, listen ♪

♪ While the storm in your heart is raging ♪

♪ Listen, listen, listen ♪

♪ Listen, listen ♪

♪ To the echoes of martyrs praying ♪

♪ Listen, listen, listen ♪

♪ Listen ♪

♪ Brothers and sisters ♪

♪ Listen, listen, listen ♪

♪ I swear we’ll never find a way to where we’re going ♪

♪ All alone ♪

♪ Don’t take your eyes ♪

♪ Off the road ♪

♪ Can you hear the bells ring out? ♪

♪ Speak now, speak now ♪

♪ Can you hear the angels sing loud? ♪

♪ Speak now, speak now ♪

♪ Listen, listen ♪

♪ To the message of hope in the whispers of ghosts ♪

♪ Listen, listen ♪

♪ Listen ♪

♪ For the children who’ll grow and the seeds that we sow ♪

♪ They listen, they listen ♪

♪ Oh, listen ♪

♪ Brothers and sisters ♪

♪ Listen, listen ♪

♪ I swear we’ll never find a way to where we’re going ♪

♪ All alone ♪

♪ Don’t take your eyes ♪

♪ Off the road ♪

♪ Can you hear the bells ring out? ♪

♪ Speak now, speak now ♪

♪ Can you hear the angels cry out? ♪

♪ Speak now, speak now ♪

♪ Don’t you hold your tongue ♪

♪ Speak now ♪

♪ Speak now ♪

♪ Speak now, speak now ♪

♪ Speak now ♪

♪ Speak now ♪

♪ Oh… ♪

♪ Can you hear the angels? ♪

♪ Speak now ♪

♪ Speak now ♪

♪ Speak now ♪

♪ Speak now. ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Whew! It’s hot as shit out here ♪

♪ Where’s my drink? ♪

♪ Mm ♪

♪ With the dirt-brown ground, leaving from L.A. ♪

♪ Heading down to the South where the gators like to play ♪

♪ Engine roaring nice from that old red clay ♪

♪ On my soapbox spittin’, listen what I gotta say ♪

♪ Howl for me, daddy ♪

♪ Sure sound sweet ♪

♪ Say something, baby ♪

♪ Say something deep ♪

♪ Deep, huh. ♪

♪ ♪

(music ends)

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