How much do you know about the movie, Mississippi Burning?

By: J. Reinoehl
Image: tmdb

About This Quiz

"Mississippi Burning" was a 1988 movie, based on events that took place during the Mississippi Burning FBI case. How well do you know the movie, "Mississippi Burning"? Find out by taking this quiz!

Why was Alan Ward in charge of the investigation?

"I was with Meredith at Ole Miss… Shot in the shoulder."

The sign as the investigators entered Mississippi said, "Welcome to Mississippi, _________"?

The sign said "Welcome to Mississippi, the Magnolia State," but Mississippi is also known as the Hospitality State. Alabama is the Heart of Dixie and Louisiana is the Pelican State.

Who did Sheriff Stuckey blame for the missing boys?

"In fact, you know what I think it is? It's a publicity stunt cooked up by that Martin Luther King fella."

Which actor played Agent Ward?

Willem Dafoe (born July 22, 1955) was nominated for an Oscar because of his supporting role in "Platoon" before the release of "Mississippi Burning." He is also noted for his performance as the Green Goblin in the "Spider-Man" series, as Max Schreck in "Shadow of the Vampire," as David Caravaggio in "The English Patient" and voicing Gill in the "Finding Nemo" series.

According to the movie, how often were Civil Rights activists trained to check in?

"Mr. Anderson, these boys were trained activists. They're taught to check in every hour and if they're arrested the moment they're released from custody."

What did Agent Ward do after meeting Sheriff Stuckey that created a stir by going against Jim Crow laws?

Agent Ward decided to make a statement by sitting in the "colored" section of the restaurant. The term Jim Crow originated from a traveling vaudeville act by Thomas Dartmouth "Daddy" Rice who performed a "Jim Crow" sketch with a blackened face.

What did Anderson's daddy do to Farmer Monroe?

"One morning that mule just showed up dead. They poisoned the water… And I looked over at my daddy's face, and I knew he'd done it."

Where was Agent Anderson from?

Although Anderson stated he was from Thornton, he also said he lived close to Tennessee. In actuality, Thornton, Mississippi, is about 150 miles from the Tennessee border.

What was the barber listening to on the radio when Anderson went in to talk about the missing kids with the mayor and sheriff?

The barber was listening to a baseball game and said St. Louis was winning when questioned by Anderson about it. In October of 1964, the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series over the New York Yankees, 7-5.

In what type of building did Ward set up a headquarters?

An abandoned theater became the FBI's temporary headquarters in the movie. The movie took place in the fictional Jessup County, but the murders upon which it was based occurred in Philadelphia, Mississippi, which is the county seat of Neshoba County.

Why did Hollis get beat up?

"That's the kid from the diner. Now, maybe you'll think twice before you talk to colored kids with an audience."

Who led the FBI to the burned car?

The Choctaw Indian Reservation has eight reservation communities, with 35,000 acres of land in ten Mississippi counties, and is centered around Philadelphia (the town where the murder victims were jailed in real life). In real life as well as the movie, the Choctaws were the ones who reported the location of the burned car in Bogue Chitto Swamp.

To whom did the boy, Aaron, tell Ward and Anderson to talk?

"It ain't colored folks you should be talking to… you should start with the sheriff's office."

What kind of flower did Anderson give to Mrs. Pell?

Trumpet pitchers or Sarracenia are carnivorous pitcher plants found mostly in the southeastern United States (with one species that can survive in zone A-5 and colder areas). The pitchers' cup-shaped leaves attract and digest insects; the flowers attract primarily bees for pollination, without killing them.

How did Mrs. Pell's father lose his house?

"I was born here, but my father lost the house in a poker game one night, long time ago. We've been paying rent ever since."

What did Aaron do when KKK members attacked his church?

Aaron was seen praying during the attack on the church. FBI files listed 31 churches that were burned in Mississippi from June of 1964 to January of 1965. Mt. United Methodist Church, which was reportedly the church burning that the three Civil Rights workers investigated in real life, was rebuilt in 1966.

To which group did most of the Mississippians interviewed say the Civil Rights workers belonged?

"Again, I think Martin Luther King's one of the leaders. I mean J. Edgar Hoover said he that was a Communist. And, uh, they had proof to that effect…"

What branch of the military was brought in to help search for the missing Civil Rights workers?

In real life, the governor of Mississippi volunteered the Mississippi National Guard, but the United States Government chose to send in the Navy instead. In the end, more than 200 military and many FBI agents were involved in the search.

What was happening outside when Mrs. Pell gave information we do not hear to Anderson about Hollis' release from jail?

Many scenes, such as the parade and the flag being taken from a child, were filmed to recreate black-and-white images of real events that Parker had viewed in his research. Although these events were not necessarily a part of the Mississippi Burning investigation, they were representative of other key moments during the Civil Rights Movement.

Why didn't Ward want to take off immediately after the vehicle that kidnapped Hollis?

"We'll wait until they go back inside… Wait until they go back inside!"

Finish the quote: "Down here they say ________."

"No, Deputy Pell went with them that night. I'm sure of it… Down here they say rattlesnakes don't commit suicide."

How did they get Willie to point out the people who set Hollis' house on fire?

At that time black and white people did not ride in the same car in the South, so covering the boy's head with a box would have doubly protected them from scrutiny. In the case of the Civil Rights workers who were killed, Chaney was driving while the other two were presumably hiding in the car when they were pulled over. CORE trained them not to be seen in cars together.

What sentence did the four arsonists receive?

"So, the Court understands that, without condoning them mind you, that the crimes to which you men have pled guilty were to some extent at least provoked by these outside influences. So, with all this, I'm gonna make your punishment light. I'm gonna sentence you each to five years imprisonment, but I'm gonna suspend these sentences."

Where did Ward send Aaron and his family?

"They have relatives in Detroit." "Are they gonna go?" "I didn't give them any choice."

Where did Anderson get a confession out of Mrs. Pell?

Mrs. Pell, who represented the person identified as Mr. X in FBI records, revealed her information to Anderson in her beauty shop after hours. Mr. X gave his information to a Highway Patrolman, presumed to be Maynard King, who had been working with the FBI on the case.

What information did Mrs. Pell tell Anderson?

"My husband drove one of the cars that night. That's what you wanted to hear, isn't it? The bodies are buried on the Roberts' farm in an earthen dam."

At what point did Ward say his by-the-book attitude has changed?

in the movie, Ward decided to play hardball once Mrs. Pell's husband beat her, but nothing in the FBI record showed they ever went beyond interrogating Klansmen. Since that time, some thought the mob was hired to rough up Klansmen. Although there are FBI records that they used mafia members as informants at the time, none of the 40,000 documents in the Mississippi Burning case file made any mention of mob involvement.

Who did the FBI kidnap to find out the names of the people who were involved?

The scene in the shack with a kidnapped Mayor Tilman was fabricated, but the story of the castration was based on real events about which the director had read during his research. James Wormley Jones, who became a special agent November 19, 1919, was often regarded as the first African-American Bureau of Investigation (the FBI's preliminary name) agent.

Where did the FBI have the Klan members meet to try and record them?

The meeting in the church didn't get them evidence and did not actually happen. Schwerner's wife stated in real life that the only reason the case drew any national attention was that her husband and Goodman were white, which had truth behind it. Eight other unidentified bodies of African-Americans were found during the 44-day search for the activists, and at least one was a 14-year old who had been wearing a CORE T-shirt.

For which member of the Klan did the FBI stage a mock hanging ceremony to get his confession?

In the movie, Lester was identified as a weak link and terrorized by the FBI. In real life, the FBI identified two weak links and alternated between threatening them with longer prison sentences for not talking and offering them reduced prison sentences and money for talking.

Who did Anderson beat up in the barbershop?

"I got a question for you, Clinton. You don't mind if I call you Clinton, do you? I feel like I know you so well."

How many years in prison did Deputy Pell get for his participation?

Deputy Pell was the character representing Deputy Cecil Price. Cecil Price was sentenced to six years in prison and served four-and-a-half. Two participants were sentenced to ten years, but none served more than six. None of the names in the movie are the same as the people who participated in the crime, but "Goatee" (the name given one of the Civil Rights workers) was a Klan nickname for Schwerner.

To prosecute at a Federal level, of what crime where the people involved accused?

"We'll never get 'em on murder anyway. That's a state charge... But we got to get 'em in Federal Court… violation of civil rights."

How many years did Sheriff Stuckey receive in prison?

Although the Grand Jury indicted the Sheriff, the jury acquitted him of infringing on the civil rights of the three murdered kids. Until he died, Sheriff Rainey, on whom the directors based Sheriff Stuckey, claimed he was innocent and was maligned in the movie. He filed a libel suit, but it was eventually dropped.

What did Mrs. Pell decide to do when she came home from the hospital to a destroyed house?

"I'm not going anywhere. I'm staying. This is my home—born here, probably die here."

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