King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis

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King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis
Photo of Martin Luther King Jr. behind bars in a Florida jail. The caption reads: "One night only. March 24th 1970, 8 P.M. Tickets $5.00, tax deductible. All proceeds to The Martin Luther King, Jr. Special Fund."
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySidney Lumet
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Produced byEly Landau
Richard J. Kaplan
Narrated byHarry Belafonte
Ruby Dee
Ben Gazzara
Charlton Heston
James Earl Jones
Burt Lancaster
Paul Newman
Anthony Quinn
Clarence Williams III
Joanne Woodward
Edited byLora Hayes
John N. Carter
Distributed byMartin Luther King Film Project
Release date
  • March 24, 1970 (1970-03-24)
Running time
185 minutes
CountryUnited States

King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis is a 1970 American documentary film biography of Martin Luther King Jr. and his creation and leadership of the nonviolent campaign for civil rights and social and economic justice in the Civil Rights Movement. It uses only original newsreel and other primary material, unvarnished and unretouched, and covers the period from the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955 and 1956 through his assassination in 1968. The original newsreel segments are framed by celebrity narrators Harry Belafonte, Ruby Dee, Ben Gazzara, Charlton Heston, James Earl Jones, Burt Lancaster, Paul Newman, Anthony Quinn, Clarence Williams III, and Joanne Woodward. The movie was produced by Ely Landau and directed by Sidney Lumet (the only documentary he directed) and Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Richard J. Kaplan was the associate producer in charge of production.


When first released, it was shown in theaters as a "one-time-only" event on March 24, 1970 for one night only. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary, Features.[1][2] In 1999, this film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in its National Film Registry.[3][4]

After its "one-time-only" showing it was occasionally seen on commercial television (unedited and with limited interruption) and for a short period released for home video on the Pacific Arts label and distributed to the educational market by Richard Kaplan Productions. Then for many years it was no longer available and rarely seen. Finally, in 2010 Richard Kaplan, who had long felt that King should be seen by a new generation who knew of it only by reputation, set up a not-for-profit company, A Filmed Record Inc., and produced a DVD using master elements he had stored over the years. A Filmed Record, Inc. released the DVD and King was once again available after 40 years of being a "lost" film.

In 2012 A Filmed Record, Inc. (with the cooperation of the estate of Ely Landau producer of the original film) entered into an agreement with Kino Lorber giving them worldwide exclusive rights to distribute King and to make possible its being seen by the largest possible audience. Kino Lorber, Inc., in partnership with The Library of Congress and with the cooperation of the Museum of Modern Art, restored and remastered the original enabling 35 mm prints and made the film available on DVD and Blu-ray. Kino Lorber and Kaplan prepared a nationwide commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and King's "I Have a Dream" speech, which was screened at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's BAMcinématek on August 13, 2013, followed by a screening at Film Forum on August 28, 2013. Kino Lorber is also launching an educational outreach campaign to provide a 24-minute abridged version of the film, titled Legacy of a Dream, to every high school in America.


... deserves to be known as one of the greatest documentaries of all time

— CriterionCast

A piece of history of immense power

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "NY Times: King: A Filmed Record ... Montgomery to Memphis". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Baseline & All Movie Guide. 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-05-21. Retrieved 2008-11-12.
  2. ^ "The 43rd Academy Awards (1971) Nominees and Winners".
  3. ^ "Preserving the Silver Screen (December 1999) - Library of Congress Information Bulletin". Retrieved 2020-11-18.
  4. ^ "Complete National Film Registry Listing | Film Registry | National Film Preservation Board | Programs at the Library of Congress | Library of Congress". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved 2020-11-18.

External links[edit]