The Battle for the Truth
Have earned a B.A. in Journalism Hazel Brannon Smith (Jane Seymour) found herself not just reporting on the news but owning a paper having bought a failing paper in Holmes County and turning it around. But Hazel's opinions on the social injustices she witnesses as well as the political corruption does not go down well especially when her progressive views and support of the African American community leads to her becoming extremely unpopular with those who are blatant racists including the law. And it's not just Hazel who finds herself the focus of intimidation as her husband, a hospital administrator, also finds himself targeted and forced out of his job.
I think it is the opening scene of "Quest for Justice", which is also known as "A Passion for Justice: The Hazel Brannon Smith Story", where Jane Seymour as Hazel Brannon Smith appears on the platform of a train station and looks like a movie star as the smoke and steam clears. It is a striking opening which makes you sit up and pay attention because quite simply Seymour looks an absolute knockout. And this happens time and again because when ever there is a dramatic scene focusing on Hazel not being intimidated by the racists of the town it just happens to coincide with Seymour looking like a movie star and a drop dead gorgeous one at that. Now some might say so what as Jane Seymour even now some twenty plus years after "Quest for Justice" came out is still a very attractive woman but it dominates the movie and distracts from the story.
As for that story well I will be the first to admit that I had never heard of Hazel Freeman Brannon before watching this so once more I don't know how much fact or fiction is in the movie but I know I feel like all I got was a potted history. By that I mean we get to see the intimidation which Hazel and her husband Smitty faced with the newspaper office and machinery vandalised on more than one occasion but rather than really understanding how Hazel felt about this what we get is instead scenes of her not backing down and not giving up which at times gives it an almost posed and overly constructed quality.
But don't get me wrong as "Quest for Justice" is still a powerful movie thanks to how the story plays out, whether or not that is how it happened in real life I am not sure but it works here. But even before it gets to its powerful ending there are other powerful scenes and whilst I feel "Quest for Justice" could have been better you can't but appreciate the courage of the actual Hazel Brannon Smith to stand strong against the intimidation of the locals.
What this all boils down to is that "Quest for Justice" is one of those true story movies which whilst informative has a heavy entertainment side with at times feels like it is trying to hard to capture a bit of the glamour of old Hollywood which in turn some times comes across as getting in the way of really getting the emotion of the story across.