The film “Marshall” opens in theaters nationwide on Friday. The screenplay was written by Connecticut attorney Michael Koskoff and his son Jacob.
The movie tells the story of the young lawyer Thurgood Marshall, who in the 1940s was sent by the NAACP to Bridgeport, Connecticut to work on a sensational sexual assault trial.
On December 11, 1940, a wealthy Greenwich woman was found wandering at about 5:00 am. She told police that she’d been the subject of multiple rapes by her black chauffeur. The man was arrested. The story made headlines. The film “Marshall” centers on this case.
Attorney Michael Koskoff spoke to WNPR last year about the making of the film and said in writing the screenplay, he was able to draw on his own experience as an attorney in the courtroom.
“I’d been involved in civil rights cases starting with the Black Panthers in 1970 in New Haven,” he said. “I know what happens in a courtroom. I know the dynamics of a courtroom. I find that most movies and TV depictions of a trial, not only are they fake, they’re not half as dramatic as real trials are.”
Koskoff said the film challenges stereotypical depictions of African Americans as drug addicts, criminals, or victims.
“One of the things about Thurgood Marshall that is so spectacular is that he is not a victim,” said Koskoff. “He is a hero. A true hero, whose heroism is based on his courage, on his intellect, on his wit.”
Years after the Connecticut case, Thurgood Marshall claimed victory in Brown v. Board of Education and went on to become the first African American Supreme Court justice.
The film “Marshall” is directed by Reginald Hudlin. Actor Chadwick Boseman plays Thurgood Marshall. Josh Gad plays lawyer Sam Friedman.