Celluloid City: Ali Shot in Overtown and Miami Beach

Florida was America's film capital until the Puritanical residents of Jacksonville ran those industry heathens out to California in the '20s. But Miami knows how to treat those denizens of debauchery, which is why they keep coming back to Miami to film movies. In Celluloid City, we spotlight some of those classics shot right in our own backyard. 

There are certain celebrities who have an ongoing love affair with Miami. For instance, Will Smith and Michael Mann are two Hollywood bigwigs that have made countless projects in the 305. Mann shot the Laurence Fishburne flick, Band of the Hand  here even before he produced Miami Vice . And it must have been while filming Bad Boys in 1994 that Smith sang to himself "This the type of town I could spend a few days in/Miami the city that keeps the roof blazing."


course, since then, both Smith and Mann have been back to Miami for

both work and play. In 2001, Smith and Mann teamed up to make Ali,

the biopic of the prettiest boxer in the world, Muhammad Ali. Not

coincidentally, the real Ali trained at Miami's own 5th

Street Gym.

The film recants not only Ali's boxing career, but also his conversion to Islam and his relationship with his father. And although Mario Van Peebles portrays Maclom X surprisingly well, Jon Voight as sports broadcasting legend Howard Cosell is not to be missed. Of course, the fight scenes are pretty good too. Here's the trailer:

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There are some easily recognizable shots of Miami landmarks: The opening sequence shows Smith jogging through Overtown and over the Venetian Causeway. By the way, this was the real route Ali took when jogging from his home in Overtown to the

5th Street Gym

in Miami Beach. The gym closed down in 1993 after operating for more than three decades. Riding the success of Ferdie Pacheo's book, it's slated to reopen in its original spot, in partnership with Angelo Dundee, one of The Greatest's early trainers.

Ali was well received by critics, earning two Oscar nominations, including one for Jon Voight as Best Supporting Actor and one for Will Smith for Best Actor. Despite his awesome portrayal of Ali, Smith got knocked out of the Oscar win by Denzel Washington in the final round.

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