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Heavens Fall ( Heaven's Fall ) [DVD]

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Heavens Fall ( Heaven's Fall ) [DVD] + American Experience: Scottsboro - An American Trag [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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Product details

  • Actors: Timothy Hutton, David Strathairn, Leelee Sobieski, Anthony Mackie, Bill Sage
  • Directors: Terry Green
  • Writers: Terry Green
  • Producers: Adam Witt, Anna Marie Crovetti, Ben Gonzales, Charley Rivkin, D. Scott Lumpkin
  • Format: PAL, Import
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Force Video
  • DVD Release Date: 15 Aug. 2007
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0015FNHEA
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 128,504 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Australia released, PAL/Region 0 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), WIDESCREEN (1.78:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Interactive Menu, Scene Access, SYNOPSIS: Successful New York attorney Sam Leibowitz travels to the South in 1933 to defend nine young black men accused of raping two women on an Alabama freight train. In the spring of 1931 nine black hoboes were pulled off an Alabama freight train and arrested for allegedly raping two young white women in a gondola car. Ranging in ages from twelve to twenty years, they were quickly tried and sentenced to the electric chair. News of their convictions spread and the plight of the Scottsboro Boys became a 'cause celebre' that fueled the fire of socialism worldwide, forcing an appeal to the United States Supreme Court and resulting in new trials for all nine defendants. New Yorker Samuel Leibowitz, a savvy and self-assured defense lawyer with an impressive string of courtroom victories, agreed to represent the accused at their retrials in Decatur, Alabama. His journey into the Deep South symbolized the polarity of the times and set in motion a legal battle that ultimately changed the course of American jurisprudence. The Scottsboro case was a tragic chapter in American history and a story of epic injustice. From their arrest in 1931 to the release of the last Scottsboro defendant in 1950, the rights of nine young black men were violated. In this century in America, we face many of the same racial prejudices and human rights issues that existed almost seventy-five years ago. The names have changed, but the rhetoric that convicted the Scottsboro Nine remains virtually the same. Heavens Fall attempts to examine the cultural and political differences that divide us. It is my hope that by looking into the hearts and minds of the Scottsboro participants, black and white, North and South, powerful and impoverished, ...Heavens Fall ( Heaven's Fall )

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By RJ on 19 Sept. 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This movie very provocatively and accurately portrays the events of the 'Scottsboro Boys' and their trial in the 1930's. It isn't pretentious in any way and doesn't attempt to rewrite history by dramatizing or embellishing the story, probably because the truth is about as dramatic as it can get!
Its such a poignant tale that is beautifully told, the performances really brought a story i had heard about a few times to a whole new level and meaning for me and gave a humanization of these people, it never once felt like i was watching a historical piece or a documentary, which was how i expected to be told. It was also surprisingly funny at times, I would recommend to watch with kids 13+ or in schools because it gives an accurate insight of that time period without being boring.
Very good movie with excellent acting!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Adrienne Mann on 28 Mar. 2010
Format: DVD
This beautiful movie - stunningly shot and gorgeous to look at - is based on the infamous Scottsboro incident of 1931, when two young white women accused nine black youths of rape.

The movie is written and directed by Terry Green ("Almost Salinas" and "No God, No Master") and stars Timothy Hutton, Leelee Sobieski, Anthony Mackie and the always-excellent David Strathairn.

The story itself - a difficult, ugly tale of racial prejudice and human rights issues - is handled with immense grace and dignity by the very talented Green. The performances are honest, warm, sometimes both provocative and heartbreaking (especially Sobieski) but always watchable. This is testament to Green's talent at the helm - he really does seem to draw the most wonderful performances from his actors, even with such emotionally-charged material such us this.

A truly wonderful film, and well-deserving of its awards.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By les on 3 Aug. 2011
Format: DVD
saw this film being played when i was on a coach trip and was unable to see or hear it properly so i bought it and i can say what an excellent film this was well worth the money
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By Geoffrey Pope on 14 Feb. 2015
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 15 reviews
58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
Well Done Historical drama 8 Nov. 2007
By Stanley R. Kaminski - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
History comes alive in this well done drama about a racial trial that the outcome of which appeared decided by the jury before the first witness took the stand. Nevertheless, it portrays the players in the legal system as real people who believe they are doing what is right. Persons who like good acting and fine drama will truly enjoy this movie. For full disclosure, I must point out that I was one of many who provided a small portion of the money needed to make this movie. However, it also must be pointed out that this movie won first place in the Hollywood film festival.
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
"Heavens Fall" - Superb Acting, Beautiful Cinematography, and Splendid Score 11 Aug. 2007
By Debby Montague - Published on
Format: DVD
"Heavens Fall" tells the story of the Scottsboro Boys, nine black men who were convicted of raping two white women in Alabama in the early 1930's. New York defense attorney Samuel Leibowitz travels to Decatur, AL to defend the men in a retrial ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Timothy Hutton gives a riveting performance as Samuel Leibowitz - Hutton's best since his equally fine portrayal of Archie Goodwin in "Nero Wolfe." Bill Sage as prosecuting attorney Thomas Knight, Jr. and David Strathairn as Judge Horton are also excellent in their roles. Bill Smitrovich as co-defense attorney, Maury Chaykin in a cameo role, Francie Swift as Leibowitz' wife, Belle, and James Tolkan as Thomas Knight, Sr. (four other great "Nero Wolfe" actors) were exceptional, too, as was B.J. Britt, as Haywood Patterson, in his film debut. LeeLee Sobieski and Azura Skye as Victoria Price and Ruby Bates were marvelous in their extremely difficult roles.

The score by Tony Llorens was haunting - a perfect accompaniment for the plot and the beautiful cinematography by Paul Sanchez.

Nero Wolfe - The Complete Classic Whodunit Series
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Great courtroom scenes! Would injustice ever be reconciled? 7 Sept. 2008
By Linda Linguvic - Published on
Format: DVD
I had never heard of this film. Indeed, it received very little publicity or theater time when it was released in 2006. But it was on cable TV last night and I was intrigued by its theme - an historical drama of the second trial of 9 young black men (aged 12 to 19) accused of raping two white women in Scottsboro, Alabama. They were sentenced to death in 1931 but, in a case brought by the International Labor Defense organization to the Supreme Court, the sentence was overturned and a new trial was granted. A New York lawyer, Samuel Liebowitz, joined the Labor Defense team and went down South for the retrial in 1933. This film was about that trial.

I must say I had to refrain myself from running to my computer to research the case because I wanted my experience of the film to be fresh. I'm glad I did that because it added to the tension as I wasn't sure what the outcome would be. The director did a good job of setting the time and the place. The historical detail seemed perfect and the New York attorney reminded me a lot of photos of my own father in the early 1930s. For example, all the men wore hats and shirts and ties.

Most of the film took place at the trial but there was one recurring scene at a diner which showed a young black girl waiting patiently at the back door for an order of food while she is being ignored by the waitress.

The Southerners are not all depicted as bad. In this film the prosecuting attorney and the New York lawyer are staying at the same hotel. The southern lawyer is on track to someday become Governor. He is intrigued by the New Yorker and they sort of bond. But then the trial begins and its no holds barred.

There is also a young black newspaper reporter from Chicago who has come down South for the trial. He has to create a petition to be permitted to sit in the courtroom. Through his eyes we see some serious discrimination although we never really get to know any of the Scotsboro boys on trial.

I loved the courtroom scenes. I was at the edge of my seat. What was going to happen? Was this injustice ever going to be reconciled? I finally found out at the end and it was only then that I researched it more deeply on my computer.

This was a good film, low budget and well made. I wish it was more widely distributed especially because it is a piece of history.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Judge Horton should have dismissed in 1933. 5 Sept. 2008
By Cattywampus - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Everybody should know the story of the Scottsboro 9 (you can Wikipedia it). This movie does not tell the whole story and I really have no quibble with it except they should have pointed out that Judge Horton could have dismissed the case for lack of evidence in 1933. If you add up the sentences of the nine boys, later men, it's over 100 years. The last Scottsboro boy incarcerated, Patterson, escaped in 1948 from hard labor on a chain gang, out on a road somewhere, just like in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?". All of the Nine were incarcerated, beaten up, shot in the head, etc., for at least six years.

One boy was being transported and got into a scuffle in the car and a deputy shot him in the head. The Communist Party started sending them food and so on. The guards really hated them. At one point they were put in a private prison which had been declared unfit for prisoners because of the rats, bedbugs, etc. No air conditioning in the South at this time, obviously. They also were in a room right next to the death chamber. It would be as if you had a bathroom next to your bedroom and occasionally the guards took someone from your (large) bedroom and fried him in the electric chair in the bathroom, and probably you had heard his story and maybe you thought he was also innocent.

Anyway, Judge Horton's not doing the right thing and dismissing the case is probably glossed over because the movie makers wanted the audience to have a hero. The case ended Judge Horton's career and he was extremely erudite (you can read his written opinion of the case, accompanying his judgment to set aside, in books about the Scottsboro Nine and no doubt online somewhere), so it was a waste. He lived there for 30 more years and he should have been a judge all that time.

He should have dismissed because there was no evidence whatsoever. In the second trial Ruby Bates said she had only been corroborating what Victoria Price said because she, Ruby, was intimidated and thought it best to do what Victoria said, "Follow my lead." In fact nobody had raped her or Victoria. Plus Leibowitz pointed out that the other eyewitnesses in the first Scottsboro Nine case had not been able to see the train.

The actress who played Victoria Price should have made herself even uglier and more belligerent, like Charlize Theron in Monster. They should have made it plain that Victoria Price had been a prostitute for white and black men for years and had been transporting Ruby Bates, a minor, across state lines for the purposes of making money as prostitutes and had been in prison for fornication. (Something I read said some of the hobos were glad to go to jail to get something to eat so I am not sure how hard her jail sentence was.)

Update: I have been doing some more reading and the person who started all this trouble, Victoria Price, was 27. She lied and said she was 21. She was afraid she was going to get into trouble for transporting a minor across state lines to make money as prostitutes. Ruby Bates was 17. It's called the Mann Act. She must have been a prostitute for over a decade. Nobody in that tiny cotton mill town could survive on what they made at the mill. The Aileen Wuornos story also shows how hardened someone becomes after years of being a prostitute. So I don't think LeeLee Sobieski should have been cast because she looked so fresh and innocent. Her acting was fine. The sheriff and the deputy from that tiny town were called in as character witnesses by Mr. Leibowitz and both said Victoria Price was a complete liar.

Update: The code of the South required the lynch mob to be at the train stop just because the black boys threw the white boys off the train. No black person was allowed to get away with raising a hand to a white person. Obviously the mob would be even more likely to lynch the black boys/men accused of rape.

So when Victoria Price called "Rape!" she was essentially saying, "I'll show you how to put these [word omitted] in their place -- I'll say they raped me." This is in addition to her wanting to keep them from investigating her hobo-ing, which is punishable as vagrancy, and pimping for Ruby Bates. Victoria had never been "the fair flower of Southern gentility" before and must have been a sociopath (consequences to other people don't enter a sociopath's mind).

If the boys who had a fistfight had been white and the ones who got thrown off the train had walked to the nearest sheriff's office and said they wanted to file a charge of assault, the sheriff probably would have said they'll get away before we catch them and I'm liable to charge all of you with vagrancy, so go away and quit bothering me.

I also think if "The Haywood Patterson Story" was made into a movie, a young Laurence Fishburne would have looked just like him. Just goes to show how superficial people are! In other words, Haywood Patterson did look kind of aggressive. If he had looked like Anthony Anderson and had not started slugging it out with the white guy who evidently tripped him or whom Patterson tripped or however it started, the whole thing would not have happened. Patterson did spend the longest time in jail, from the time of the alleged assault, March 1931, through his escape in 1948. Then he was re-arrested and died in jail of cancer in 1952.

If I am saying Patterson was "guilty" of being "mean-looking," please forgive me as I am contrasting it with one of the other guys who was blind in one eye and only had about 25% of normal vision in the other eye and was hobo-ing from place to place trying to earn money to buy glasses so he could rejoin the human race. Would have been better for him if he had been a blind hermit.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A Particle of Decency Shines Through the Years 12 Nov. 2007
By Grady Harp - Published on
Format: DVD
Movies such as HEAVENS FALL are poignant reminders of the cruel history of this country that still makes us bow our heads in shame. The story by writer/director Terry Green is a sensitive recreation of the re-trial of an African American man (one of nine) condemned to death in Scottsboro, Alabama in 1931 for the supposed gang rape of two white women, a trial with an all-white seated jury who took only 20 minutes to deliberate and convict the young men. It is a study of racism in the South in the 1930s and while the viewer would hope that the ending is triumphant, the story quietly fades with a particle decency represented by a New York trial lawyer and a sympathetic judge who opened the door to the beginnings of seated African American jurists. It is powerful in content: it is magnificent movie making.

Samuel Leibowitz (Timothy Hutton) travels to Alabama form his offices in New York in 1933, to represent the nine condemned men after a Supreme Court ruling opened the door for a retrial. Leibowitz meets the prosecuting attorney Thomas Knight, Jr. (Bill Sage), more devoted to his potential career advancement than to his role as prosecutor, and the judge assigned to the case - James Horton (David Strathairn). Leibowitz interviews the nine condemned men and Haywood Patterson (B.J. Britt) is the first to be re-tried. Careful investigation uncovers the shaky case that convicted the men and Leibowitz, with the aid of the attorneys who pleaded the case before the Supreme Court, attempt to gain a racially mixed jury without success. Sent to cover the trial is a young reporter from Chicago (Anthony Mackie) who witnesses the racial hatred in the South first hand. His presence adds credibility to the proceedings. During the trial Leibowitz calls as witnesses the two women who made the false accusations - Victoria Price (LeeLee Sobieski) and Ruby Bates (Azura Skye) - and despite evidence clearing the nine men the trial ends in defeat. But that is only the beginning of a story that persists to this day. This is a true story about how racial hate tore the South apart in the 1930s, but it is also the story of how a few honest people tried to alter history.

The cast is uniformly excellent, with Strathairn, Hutton, Skye, and Sage giving potent performances. The climate of the times is well captured by the cinematography of Paul Sanchez, the costumes by Lisa Davis, the fine editing by Suzy Elmiger, and the simple but effective musical score by Tony Llorens. This is a film everyone should see, not only because of the need to re-examine this part of our history, but also because it is such a fine example of American cinema. Grady Harp, November 07
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