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The Great Debaters (2007)

PG-13
126 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

A drama based on the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College Texas. In 1935, he inspired students to form the school's first debate team, which went on to challenge Harvard in the national championship.
Read more: Plot summary
Writers
Robert Eisele (screenplay) (story) | Jeffrey Porro (story) | Tony Scherman (inspired by the American Legacy article)
Cinematographer
Casting Director
Production Designer
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Box Office
Budget
$ 15,000,000
Opening Wknd
$ 9,184,022
Gross (USA)
$ 30,226,144
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Release date
Dec 25, 2007 (United States)

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Cast

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104 cast members
Name STARmeter Known for
Denzel Washington
Melvin B. Tolson Melvin B. Tolson   See fewer
50
Nate Parker
Henry Lowe Henry Lowe   See fewer
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Jurnee Smollett-Bell
Samantha Booke (as Jurnee Smollett) Samantha Booke (as Jurnee Smollett)   See fewer
Top 5000
Denzel Whitaker
James Farmer Jr. James Farmer Jr.   See fewer
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Jermaine Williams
Hamilton Burgess Hamilton Burgess   See fewer
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Forest Whitaker
Dr. James Farmer Sr. Dr. James Farmer Sr.   See fewer
Top 5000
Gina Ravera
Ruth Tolson Ruth Tolson   See fewer
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John Heard
Sheriff Dozier Sheriff Dozier   See fewer
Top 5000
Kimberly Elise
Pearl Farmer Pearl Farmer   See fewer
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Devyn A. Tyler
Helen Farmer (as Devyn Tyler) Helen Farmer (as Devyn Tyler)   See fewer
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Trenton McClain Boyd
Nathaniel Farmer Nathaniel Farmer   See fewer
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Jackson Walker
Pig Owner Pig Owner   See fewer
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Tim Parati
Pig Farmer Pig Farmer   See fewer
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Robert X. Golphin
Dunbar Reed Dunbar Reed   See fewer
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Justice Leak
Harland Osbourne Harland Osbourne   See fewer
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Glen Powell
Harvard Debater #1 (as Glen Powell Jr.) Harvard Debater #1 (as Glen Powell Jr.)   See fewer
80
Brad Watkins
Harvard Debater #2 Harvard Debater #2   See fewer
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Brian Smiar
Harvard Dean Harvard Dean   See fewer
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Damien Leake
Wilson Wilson   See fewer
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Voltaire Sterling
Paul Quinn Debater #1 (as Voltaire Rico Sterling) Paul Quinn Debater #1 (as Voltaire Rico Sterling)   See fewer
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Stephen Rider
Paul Quinn Debater #2 Paul Quinn Debater #2   See fewer
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Gordon Danniels
Paul Quinn Debate Judge Paul Quinn Debate Judge   See fewer
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Donny Boaz
Oklahoma City College Debater #1 Oklahoma City College Debater #1   See fewer
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Samuel Elliott Whisnant
Oklahoma City College Debater #2 (as Sam Whisnant) Oklahoma City College Debater #2 (as Sam Whisnant)   See fewer
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Bonnie Johnson
Dr. Jennings Dr. Jennings   See fewer
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Michael Beasley
Trudell Trudell   See fewer
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Gary Mattis
Enormous Man (as Gary Mathis) Enormous Man (as Gary Mathis)   See fewer
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George Wilson
Samuel Samuel   See fewer
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Fahnlohnee R. Harris
Clementine (as Fahnlohnee Harris) Clementine (as Fahnlohnee Harris)   See fewer
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Harold Evans
William Taylor (as Harold X. Evans) William Taylor (as Harold X. Evans)   See fewer
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J.D. Evermore
Captain Wainwright Captain Wainwright   See fewer
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Kelvin Payton
Joseph Joseph   See fewer
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Southey Blanton
White Labor Organizer White Labor Organizer   See fewer
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Michael Mattison
White Sharecropper #1 White Sharecropper #1   See fewer
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Jeff Braun
White Sharecropper #2 White Sharecropper #2   See fewer
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Milton R. Gipson
Prairie View Professor Prairie View Professor   See fewer
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Frank Ridley
Security Guard Security Guard   See fewer
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Jeremiah Kissel
Radio Announcer at Harvard Debate Radio Announcer at Harvard Debate   See fewer
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Jack Radosta
White Man at Lynching White Man at Lynching   See fewer
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Marcus Lyle Brown
Howard Debater #1 Howard Debater #1   See fewer
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Alvin Youngblood Hart
Juke Joint Musician #1 (as Alvin 'Youngblood' Hart) Juke Joint Musician #1 (as Alvin 'Youngblood' Hart)   See fewer
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Dom Flemons
Juke Joint Musician #2 (as Dominique Flemons) Juke Joint Musician #2 (as Dominique Flemons)   See fewer
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Justin Robinson
Juke Joint Musician #3 Juke Joint Musician #3   See fewer
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Rhiannon Giddens
Juke Joint Musician #4 Juke Joint Musician #4   See fewer
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Ahmad Powell
Fisk Professor Fisk Professor   See fewer
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Michael C. 'Mike' Allen
Deputy Texas Ranger (uncredited) Deputy Texas Ranger (uncredited)   See fewer
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Razmig Arabian
Harvard Student (uncredited) Harvard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
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Kevin Beard
Klansman at Lynching (uncredited) Klansman at Lynching (uncredited)   See fewer
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Ellen Becker-Gray
Faculty at Harvard Debate (uncredited) Faculty at Harvard Debate (uncredited)   See fewer
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Chad Boldini
Harvard Debate Attendee (uncredited) Harvard Debate Attendee (uncredited)   See fewer
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Crystal Brown-Tatum
Female Teacher / Dance Chaperone (uncredited) Female Teacher / Dance Chaperone (uncredited)   See fewer
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Gio Castellano
Harvard Debate Attendee (uncredited) Harvard Debate Attendee (uncredited)   See fewer
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Thomas Cataloni
Sailor (uncredited) Sailor (uncredited)   See fewer
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Benjamin Crocker
Harvard Student (uncredited) Harvard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
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Michael DeMello
Debate Observer (uncredited) Debate Observer (uncredited)   See fewer
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Roger Dillingham Jr.
Upscale Traveler (uncredited) Upscale Traveler (uncredited)   See fewer
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Sal DiMino
Reporter (uncredited) Reporter (uncredited)   See fewer
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Curtis Eames
Reporter (uncredited) Reporter (uncredited)   See fewer
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Chaz Echols
Wiley College Student (uncredited) Wiley College Student (uncredited)   See fewer
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Brian D. Evans
Harvard Student (uncredited) Harvard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
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Benjamin Fisher
Harvard Student (uncredited) Harvard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
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Jaishon Fisher
Newspaper Boy (uncredited) Newspaper Boy (uncredited)   See fewer
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Jamai Fisher
Kid at Train Station (uncredited) Kid at Train Station (uncredited)   See fewer
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Steve Flynn
Harvard Dean (uncredited) Harvard Dean (uncredited)   See fewer
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Hugh Guiney
Harvard Student (uncredited) Harvard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
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Hevin Hampton
Bar Patron (uncredited) Bar Patron (uncredited)   See fewer
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Joel B. Hayden
Harvard Professor (uncredited) Harvard Professor (uncredited)   See fewer
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Patrick Mel Hayes
Harvard Alumni (uncredited) Harvard Alumni (uncredited)   See fewer
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Nefertara Hotep
Extra (uncredited) Extra (uncredited)   See fewer
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Kenneth Lecompte
Share Cropper and Grocer (uncredited) Share Cropper and Grocer (uncredited)   See fewer
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Jimmy Lee Jr.
Lyncher (uncredited) Lyncher (uncredited)   See fewer
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Aqua Lee
Juke Joint Couple (uncredited) Juke Joint Couple (uncredited)   See fewer
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Christopher J. Long
Harvard Student (uncredited) Harvard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
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Robert Masiello
Harvard Alumni (uncredited) Harvard Alumni (uncredited)   See fewer
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Josh McBride
Harvard Student (uncredited) Harvard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
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Paul McGillicuddy
Harvard Debate Attendee (uncredited) Harvard Debate Attendee (uncredited)   See fewer
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Alex Milne
Shoe Shine Boy (uncredited) Shoe Shine Boy (uncredited)   See fewer
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Tarek Moussa
Harvard Student (uncredited) Harvard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
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Jason Mulcahy
Harvard Student (uncredited) Harvard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
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Ed O'Keefe
Harvard Scholar (uncredited) Harvard Scholar (uncredited)   See fewer
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Giovanni Pantaleo
Havard Student (uncredited) Havard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
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Cory Patt
Wiley Student (uncredited) Wiley Student (uncredited)   See fewer
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James Paul
Riot Starter (uncredited) Riot Starter (uncredited)   See fewer
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Jeannie Perrin
Lynching Participant (uncredited) Lynching Participant (uncredited)   See fewer
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Todd Poudrier
Radio Tech (uncredited) Radio Tech (uncredited)   See fewer
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Cyndy Powell
Harvard debate audience (uncredited) Harvard debate audience (uncredited)   See fewer
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Breon Pugh
Wiley Debater (uncredited) Wiley Debater (uncredited)   See fewer
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Alan Resnic
Harvard Scholar (uncredited) Harvard Scholar (uncredited)   See fewer
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Robert M. Saunders
Harvard Student (uncredited) Harvard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
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Cory Reed Smith
Harvard Debate Attendee (uncredited) Harvard Debate Attendee (uncredited)   See fewer
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Scott Sousa
Harvard Student (uncredited) Harvard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
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Heath Stewart
Reserve Harvard Debater (uncredited) Reserve Harvard Debater (uncredited)   See fewer
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Bill Stinchcomb
Lynch Mob (uncredited) Lynch Mob (uncredited)   See fewer
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Ruth Mahala Sullivan
Student (uncredited) Student (uncredited)   See fewer
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Charles Sutherland
Man at Train Station (uncredited) Man at Train Station (uncredited)   See fewer
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Ian Wallace
Harvard Student (uncredited) Harvard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
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Mario Wanza
Wiley Student (uncredited) Wiley Student (uncredited)   See fewer
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Donald Warnock
The Chief Harvard Judge (uncredited) The Chief Harvard Judge (uncredited)   See fewer
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Mike Wendt
Havard Student (uncredited) Havard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
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Russell Woron-Simons
Harvard Debate Attendee (uncredited) Harvard Debate Attendee (uncredited)   See fewer
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Adam Zalt
Harvard Student / Navy Sailor (uncredited) Harvard Student / Navy Sailor (uncredited)   See fewer
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Ratings Breakdown

7.6 / 10 | 52,013 votes