7.9/10
2,277
35 user 15 critic

4 Little Girls (1997)

TV-14 | | Documentary, History | 9 July 1997 (USA)
A documentary of the notorious racial terrorist bombing of an African American church during the Civil Rights Movement.

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 8 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Maxine McNair ...
Herself - Mother of Denise McNair
Chris McNair ...
Helen Pegues ...
Herself - Denise's Aunt
Queen Nunn ...
Herself - Neighbor of Denise McNair
Arthur Hanes Jr. ...
Himself - Defense Attorney for Bob Chambliss
...
Harold McNair ...
Himself - Denise's Uncle
Carole C. Smitherman ...
Herself - Denise's Childhood Friend (as Carole C. Smitherman Esq.)
Wamo Reed Robertson ...
Herself - Carole's Aunt
Dianne Braddock ...
Herself - Carole's Sister
Carolyn Lee Brown ...
Herself - Carole's Childhood Friend
Alpha Robertson ...
Herself - Mother of Carole Robertson
Wyatt Tee Walker ...
Fred Lee Shuttlesworth ...
Himself - Pres. of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights
Florence Terrell ...
Herself - School Teacher
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Storyline

This film recounts the people and events leading up to the one of the most despicable hate-crimes during the height of the civil-rights movement, the bombing of the 16th Street Church in Birmingham, Alabama. In that attack, four little African-American girls lost their lives and a nation was simultaneously revolted, angered and galvanized to push the fight for equality and justice on. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@execulink.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The story of four young girls who paid the price for a nation's ignorance. See more »


Certificate:

TV-14
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

9 July 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

4 маленькие девочки  »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$13,528, 13 July 1997, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$130,146, 28 September 1997
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Spike Lee and his wife stayed at Birmingham's Tutwiler hotel while filming the documentary. It was once a nursing home for retired teachers, and is located 5 blocks from 16th Street Baptist Church. See more »

Quotes

Howell Raines: A day in 1957, in the afternoon, the evening newscast, there's a piece of film of a gang of white men beating Fred Shuttlesworth, in the street outside of Phillips high school where he'd taken his children. With chains they beat him to the ground. And the reason it was riveting for me, I was fourteen years old, was that the police said they couldn't find the men who did it. And I recognized one of the men. I knew who he was. I'd seen him at Jack Cash's barbecue and I knew the police hung out at...
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Soundtracks

4 Little Girls
Written by Pantera Saint-Montaigne
Performed by Pantera Saint-Montaigne
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User Reviews

Very moving
6 April 2004 | by See all my reviews

Lee's film does an excellent job of bringing the girls to life. It is very easy to lump the four girls together into one entity, as the "Eyes on the Prize" documentary did, but Spike Lee was able to set them apart as individuals and shows the grief felt by the friends and relatives to this day. However, the documentary seems to tell only about two-thirds of the story. Some of the nitty-gritty details about the bombing and the investigation are quickly summarized in order to bring the film to a quick conclusion. If I didn't know from other sources, I would not have known, for example, the nature of the bomb -- was it set by a timer? Thrown into the church? (I know from news accounts that it was the latter, but you would not have known if you were uninitiated and just learning through this documentary.) There are also questions that come to mind that Lee leaves unanswered: What was the reaction of the white community in the area (I know, for example, that the bombing was certainly not unanimously cheered by the white south)? How was the bombing investigated? What eventually led the investigators to the guilty parties? The story of the 15 year search for the bomber and his accomplices (in fact, the search went on longer than that, even into the year 2001) is an important part of the story. A film as powerful as this should have taken the time to go into every nook and cranny of the story. Yes, it was excellent. Yes, it should have won the Documentary award for that year. Yes, it brought a tear to my eye. But there could have been so much more, and could have made the story that much more powerful.


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