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January 22, 2021

At the Movies: In ‘One Night in Miami,' speculative history sings

AP Film Writer

The potential pitfalls of a movie that brings together Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown for a night on February 25, 1964, seem so numerous, so prone to falling into caricature, that “One Night in Miami ...” feels like a miracle.

The concept comes from Kemp Powers (co-director of the recent Pixar film “Soul”), a playwright who used a real occurrence — the four Black icons did gather that night, after 22-year-old Cassius Clay dethroned world heavyweight boxing champ Sonny Liston — for an acclaimed one-act play that imagined what they might have talked about behind closed doors. “One Night in Miami ...,” the directorial debut of Regina King, turns Kemp's play into a scintillating dialogue of African American activism and artistry, with a quartet of impassioned performances.

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