Released on these shores for the first time, nearly 30 years after it was made, William Klein's Muhammad Ali documentary will find an enthusiastic audience among the boxer's legion of fans, but it's hard to see general audiences flocking to this disjointed, if occasionally exhilarating, film.
Covering the years 1964-74, from Ali's shock defeat of Sonny Liston to his comeback Rumble In The Jungle with George Foreman, there's plenty of footage of the ring wizard casting his PR spell on journalists and watching fans, including a brief glimpse of his meeting with The Beatles. There's also an interview with the soon-to-be-shot Malcolm X, and Ali waxing lyrical about black oppression.
But even within his film's overlong, two-hour running time, Vogue snapper Klein only briefly touches on Ali's draft dodging troubles and his controversial second fight with Liston, covering much the same ground as Leon Gast's sharper, Oscar-winning 1996 documentary When We Were Kings. Even with the resurgence of Ali interest inspired by Michael Mann's biopic, The Greatest has been beaten to the punch.