Ghosts of Mississippi

Ghosts of Mississippi is a 1996 American biographical courtroom drama film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Alec Baldwin, Whoopi Goldberg and James Woods. The plot is based on the true story of the 1994 trial of Byron De La Beckwith, the white supremacist accused of the 1963 assassination of civil rights activist Medgar Evers.

Ghosts of Mississippi
Ghosts of mississippi.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRob Reiner
Written byLewis Colick
Produced byNicholas Paleologos
Rob Reiner
Andrew Scheinman
Frederick M. Zollo
Charles Newirth
Jeff Stott
CinematographyJohn Seale
Edited byRobert Leighton
Music byMarc Shaiman
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • December 20, 1996 (1996-12-20)
Running time
130 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$36 million
Box office$13,323,144

James Woods was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role of Byron De La Beckwith.[1] The original music score was composed by Marc Shaiman and the cinematography is by John Seale.


Medgar Evers was an African-American civil rights activist in Mississippi murdered on June 12, 1963. It was suspected that Byron De La Beckwith, a white supremacist, was the murderer. He had been tried twice and both trials ended in hung juries. In 1989, Evers' widow Myrlie, who had been trying to bring De La Beckwith to justice for over 25 years, believed she had what it takes to bring him to trial again. Although most of the evidence from the old trial had disappeared, Bobby DeLaughter, an assistant District Attorney, decided to help her despite being warned that it might hurt his political aspirations and despite the strain that it caused in his marriage. DeLaughter becomes primarily involved with bringing De La Beckwith to trial for the third time 30 years later. In 1994, Byron De La Beckwith was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment, giving justice to the family of Medgar Evers.



The soundtrack of the film, with a score by Marc Shaiman, featured two versions of the Billy Taylor composition "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free" – one sung by Dionne Farris and the other by Nina Simone – as well as numbers by Muddy Waters, Tony Bennett, Robert Johnson and B.B. King.[2]


The film received mixed reviews from critics, with praises going to Goldberg and Woods.[3][4][5] Rotten Tomatoes giving it a 43% rating based on 30 reviews. The site's consensus states: "James Woods is convincing as a white supremacist, but everything else rings false in this courtroom drama, which examines a weighty subject from the least interesting perspective."[6] The film was not a financial success, making only half of its budget back.[7]

Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert both gave the film two thumbs down.[8]


Award Category Nominee(s) Result
Academy Awards[9] Best Supporting Actor James Woods Nominated
Best Makeup Matthew W. Mungle and Deborah La Mia Denaver Nominated
Awards Circuit Community Awards Best Cast Ensemble Alec Baldwin, Lucas Black, Whoopi Goldberg, William H. Macy,
Virginia Madsen, Craig T. Nelson, Susanna Thompson and James Woods
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards[10] Best Supporting Actor James Woods Nominated
Critics Choice Awards[11] Best Supporting Actor Nominated
Golden Globe Awards[12] Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Nominated
Heartland Film Festival Truly Moving Picture Rob Reiner Won
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Whoopi Goldberg Nominated
Online Film & Television Association Awards[13] Best Supporting Actor James Woods Nominated
Political Film Society Awards Human Rights Won
Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards[14] Best Supporting Actor James Woods Runner-up

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ 1997|
  2. ^ Steve McDonald, "Marc Shaiman: Ghosts of Mississippi", AllMusic Review.
  3. ^ FILM REVIEW -- 'Mississippi' a Burning Drama on Evers Murder / Goldberg, Woods superb in story spanning 30 years - SFGate
  4. ^ Roger
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Ghosts of Mississippi (1996)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2020-06-22.
  7. ^ "Ghosts of Mississippi (1996) - Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 2016-11-04.
  8. ^ Evita, Beavis & Butt-Head Do America, One Fine Day, My Fellow Americans, Scream, Ghosts of Mississippi, 1996 — Siskel and Ebert Movie Reviews
  9. ^ "The 69th Academy Awards (1997) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on November 9, 2014. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
  10. ^ "1988-2013 Award Winner Archives". Chicago Film Critics Association. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  11. ^ "The BFCA Critics' Choice Awards :: 1996". Broadcast Film Critics Association. Archived from the original on December 12, 2008.
  12. ^ "Ghosts of Mississippi – Golden Globes". HFPA. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  13. ^ "1st Annual Film Awards (1996)". Online Film & Television Association. Retrieved May 15, 2021.
  14. ^ "1996 SEFA Awards". Retrieved May 15, 2021.

External linksEdit