“Free State of Jones” — McConaughey’s Folly?

An old quote attributed to Samuel Goldwyn, I think, justified his thinking that “Gone With the Wind” would flop. “No movie about the Civil War ever made a dime.”

This coming summer, we’ll see if that still holds (as it has, mostly, for every film outside of “GWTW” and “Birth of a Nation.” “The Free State of Jones” has lower stakes, but could be that rare stumble in Matthew McConaughey’s post-“Lincoln Lawyer” career.

STX, a 2014 studio startup with multiple theater chain backing and “The Gift,” and the remake of “Secret in their Eyes” as their track record, got Gary “Seabiscuit” Ross to direct Matthew McConaughey in the second version of a small county in Mississippi’s revolt against the Confederacy in the middle of the Civil War. Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Keri Russell also star.

McConaughey plays Newton Knight, who led the revolt.

Van Heflin starred in a 1948 version of the story, based on a historical novel about Knight and the revolt — “Tap Roots.” The new one will emphasize the anti-slavery rebels vs. the cotton plantation owners’
“one percent” in open, armed conflict. The trailer to “Free State of Jones” popped up during NFL playoff games Saturday.



About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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