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Overall Rating
4.58

Awesome73.08%
Worth A Look: 19.23%
Just Average: 3.85%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
Sucks: 3.85%

1 review, 20 user ratings



Execution of Wanda Jean, The
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by EricDSnider

"You can't make this stuff up."
5 stars

"Exciting" is not a word normally attributed to documentaries, but darned if "The Execution of Wanda Jean" isn't just that. Even if you already know the outcome, the manner in which everything unfolds is thrilling. We've seen fictional movies -- where they can make stuff up to suit their purposes -- that were not nearly this taut and well-told.

Wanda Jean Allen shot her girlfriend, Gloria Leathers, in front of an Oklahoma City police station in 1988. She was subsequently convicted of murder and sentenced to die by lethal injection. This film chronicles her attempts to get off death row in December 2000 -- a month before her scheduled execution.

There's no question she's guilty; what's at issue is whether she's mentally competent. Due to a childhood injury, she's borderline retarded, particularly when it comes to controlling herself in times of stress. Her lawyer, David Bisson, works doggedly to arrange a clemency hearing, at which her trial lawyer admits to having botched things: Incredibly, evidence of her mental problems was never shown to the jury. And as if that weren't enough to warrant postponing the execution, it then comes to light that the clemency board was given some misinformation by the prosecution.

Bisson is tireless in his efforts to save Wanda Jean's life. For her part, Wanda Jean is unfailingly high-spirited, regularly asking Bisson whether he had breakfast that day. Their relationship is sweet and unlikely, she an uneducated black lesbian and he a straight white attorney.

Director Liz Garbus clearly is on Wanda Jean's side, which makes her filmmaking all the more human and passionate. She shows us Wanda Jean's family, too, vividly portraying them as the colorful people they are. (Wanda Jean's brother is both a preacher and a licensed embalmer.)

Regardless of one's feelings about the death penalty, one can't help but feel that this execution needs to be delayed pending further investigation. In fact, it's so obvious, it's ridiculous. Prepare to be frustrated by our American legal system, and to be touched by the harrowing story of Wanda Jean.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=7939&reviewer=247
originally posted: 07/03/03 22:33:15
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User Comments

2/15/15 filmiw23 yytyy 1 stars
8/07/07 Caroline R I think the film should have shown more about the people she killed and how ugly was it. 4 stars
12/17/05 latoya matthews I think that they should have given Wanda a chance. It was a sad thing. 5 stars
12/16/04 chynna very touching story make you kind of rethink the eye for an eye theory 5 stars
12/07/04 Astrid Garcia I want to see the movie 3 stars
12/06/04 Theresa No one should die as an answer 4 stars
10/30/04 kiesha I think the law in wasys are unfair and unjust! 4 stars
10/30/04 Tionese Alexander I saw the film and it was great. I think that the they should have gave Wanda Jean a stay. 5 stars
10/30/04 DHAHENE SHIELDS I THINK WANDA SHOULD HAVE GOTTIN A 2 CHANCE IN LIFE 5 stars
10/01/04 sharronda she should not have been on death row 5 stars
8/22/04 yelonda ingram sad 4 stars
7/24/04 C. A. Moore Powerful 5 stars
7/23/04 k baggett Awesome 5 stars
7/22/04 janelle banks i think that it was very wrong"thou shalt not kill" only the lord above has that right t 5 stars
7/10/04 Claire Just another example of our justice system gone wrong. 5 stars
5/11/04 David Yeoman I can't beileve people are still executed. It says a lot about the moral centre of America 5 stars
3/31/04 mary williams i would like to see what happened after death 4 stars
10/06/03 franchestca the movie was wonderful it makes you want to think twice about killing somebody period 5 stars
7/30/03 NaToya I think that she should have been spared. Mother of the victim could forgive her, so shld w 5 stars
7/07/03 SANDRA SULLIVAN SAD, WANTING TO KNOW HOW SOMEONE WHO IS MENTAL SICK GOT THAT FAR WITH NO HELP 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  10-Jan-2002 (NR)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  N/A


Directed by
  Liz Garbus

Written by
  Liz Garbus

Cast
  Wanda Jean Allen



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