Miss Ever’s Boys

YEAR FILM MADE: 22.February 1997    LENGTH OF FILM     118 min

PRODUCER:  Derek Kavanagh, Kip Konwiser

DIRECTOR: Joseph Sargent

Written by :Walter Bernstein

Starring    Alfre Woodard

Laurence Fishburne

Music by   Charles Bernstein

Cinematography         Donald M. Morgan

Production Companies

  • Anasazi Productions
  • HBO

MUSIC:   Show Me Lord”

Music and Lyrics by Charles Bernstein

Vocals by Carmen Twillie

Short Biography of Charles Bernstein and why he was important during the time the movie was made and why his music was chosen:       

Charles Bernstein (born February 28, 1943) is a composer of film and television music. His credits include the score for A Nightmare on Elm Street. After studying composition with Vitorio Giannini and Vincent Persichetti at the Juilliard School in New York City, Bernstein attended UCLA, where he received an Outstanding Graduate of the College Award, a Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship, and a Chancellor’s Doctoral Teaching Fellowship while working with American composer Roy Harris. He currently sits on the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Board of Directors of the Society of Composers and Lyricists, the Board of Directors of the ASCAP Foundation, and serves as Vice-President of the Academy of Motion Pictures Foundation. He has taught on the graduate film scoring faculty at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, and has presented film scoring seminars over the past 15 years at UCLA Extension. He has received an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for his writings on music and is author of the book Film Music and Everything Else.

Bernstein has composed scores for more than 100 motion pictures, including White Lightning, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Mr. Majestyk, The Entity, Cujo, Love At First Bite, and Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision. Several of his tracks have appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds. His television credits include Malice in Wonderland, The Long Island Incident, and Sybil.


Screen Play by:                                Distribution: International

Country: USA

Language: English

Also Known As: El experimento Tuskegee

Filming Locations: Atlanta, Georgia, USA


Drama, Race, Historical   

Sound Mix: Dolby SR

Color: Color


The aged, black nurse, Eunice Evers (Alfre Woodward), testifies before the 1973 Senate hearings into the Tuskegee study. Through a series of lengthy flashbacks, her testimony evokes the 1932 origin and four-decade course of a research experiment to study but not treat syphilis in the black men of Macon County, Alabama. The federally funded project began with the intent to treat the men, but when funds dried up, the project coordinators decided simply to document the course of the disease to discover if blacks responded to syphilis as did whites.

The nurse was deeply attached to the patients and they, to her; a Dixie band named itself “Miss Evers’ Boys.” Evers and her doctor supervisor (Joe Morton) hoped that treatment would be restored after a few months, but ten years pass. With the advent of penicillin in 1942, her intelligent lover Caleb (Laurence Fishburne) rebelled, took penicillin, and enlisted in the army; the project, however, continues.

Evers is disbelieving when she realizes that the men will not be treated, but she cannot abandon them. Against the advice of her father, she refuses to leave Alabama with Caleb and continues to participate in the lie that encourages the Tuskegee men to remain untreated into the late 1960s. One by one Miss Evers’ Boys die or are disabled by the disease.



The film tells the story of the Tuskegee experiment, a U.S. Federal Government secret medical experiment on poor African Americans in the years 1932-1972, designed to study the effects of untreated syphilis. The story is told from the perspective of the small town nurse Eunice Evers (Alfre Woodard) who is well aware of the lack of treatment, but feels her role is to console the involved men, many of whom are her direct friends

The movie was based on the true story of the decades-long Tuskegee experiment. It was directed by Joseph Sargent and adapted from the 1992 stage play written by David Feldshuh. The film was nominated for eleven Emmy Awards and won in four categories, including Outstanding Made for Television Movie.

The Play was suggested by the book Bad Blood.


The Play:

This play was suggested by the book, Bad Blood: The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, by James H. Jones, and by a number of primary sources. It brings to the stage in a fictional way the story of the interaction between an African-American public health nurse assigned to the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and four of the African-American participants in the study. Two physicians, one who is head of the Tuskegee Memorial Hospital, and one from the U.S. Public Health Service, are less important characters, but provide the evidence of the government’s complicity in the study.

The physical setting of the play is the Possom Hollow Schoolhouse, and there are changing “testimony areas” where a 1972 Senate subcommittee investigation of the Tuskegee study is taking place. The theatrical setting is, however, the conscience and memory of Eunice Evers, the nurse, as she is pulled into and out of the action to give testimony to the audience.

Act One takes place in 1932, and allows the audience to become acquainted with the four African-American men who, along with several hundred others, become part of the study after their blood has been found to test positive for syphilis. The treatment of the infected men with mercury and arsenic comes to an end after six months because of a lack of funds, and a decision is made by the Public Health Service to continue a study of untreated syphilis in these men. A fifty-dollar life insurance policy is given to each man as an inducement to remain in the study.

Act Two carries the lives of the characters through the introduction of Penicillin as treatment for syphilis in 1946–a treatment from which the Tuskegee study patients were excluded–and on to 1972, when the Senate committee hearings were held. The Epilogue is about the big guilts of the government and the little guilts experienced by Miss Evers as she questions her nursing ideals.

Commentary in a dramatic way this play tells an important story about human experimentation and the lives of those who were part of an experiment which they did not understand; it is also about the lives of those who were responsible. The play can be used in many ways to stimulate discussion and to ask questions about human experimentation, informed consent, great and small culpability, etc. The characters become real, and it is easy to become involved in the drama of their lives by reading the play, and even more so, when seeing it performed. SourceAmerican Theater, Vol. 7, No. 8, November, 1990PublisherTheatre Communications GroupPlace PublishedNew York MiscellaneousDavid Feldshuh is Professor of Theatre at Cornell University, and Artistic Director of the university’s Center for Theatre Arts.


MISS EVER’S BOYS: Why the Title?

The Titel Miss Ever’s Boys comes from the main characters forming a band and they were looking for a titel and since Miss Evers supported them as much as she could and drove them to all of their auditions and concerts she thought she might as well call them her boys, because she”takes care of them, so Miss Ever’s boys.




The Tuskegee experiment was a U.S. Federal Government secret medical experiment on poor African Americans in the years 1932-1972, designed to study the effects of untreated syphilis. They didn’t tell the man in the beginning that they had syphilis and continued over years to not give them any medicine to prove the point that African americans react the same way to syphilis as white people do. Even when they could have given them medicine they decided “ for the purpose of purness” to not give them any medicine.

Unfortunately, the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphillis in the Negro Male”, which began in 1932 in Alabama, is strong proof that clinical studies were not created equal. In this experiment, poor African American males were not treated for syphillis and not told of their true condition.

When penicillin became available as a treatment, the subjects were not afforded the option of getting the shots. (NOTE: Depending on the stage of syphillis, penicillin may not be a safe treatment option)

As a result of unethical treatment on the part of the experimenters in this study, the US National Health Investigation Board was developed in 1979. This board promulgated Institutional Review Boards and ethical guidelines for the conduct of clinical research studies. None of the clinical staff of this study faced any criminal charges.


The name is because the experiment was done in Tuskegee, Alabama and yes, as we know, there are two experiments called Tuskegee experiment, the fighter pilot experiment from world war 2 and this one.


Did this film or any of the film stars win any awards from this movie production?

The movie was featured in The 55th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

Awards and nominations


  • 1997 Emmy Award for Outstanding Made for Television Movie
  • 1997 Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie – Alfre Woodard
  • 1997 Emmy Award for Outstanding Editing for a Miniseries or a Movie – Single Camera Production – Michael Brown
  • 1997 Emmy Award for Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or a Special – Donald M. Morgan
  • 1998 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV – Alfre Woodard


  • 1997 Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Special – Laurence Fishburne
  • 1997 Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Special – Obba Babatundé
  • 1997 Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Special – Ossie Davis
  • 1997 Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries or a Special – Walter Bernstein
  • 1997 Emmy Award for Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries or a Special – Jaki Brown, Robyn M. Mitchell, Shay Griffin
  • 1997 Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography – Dianne McIntyre
  • 1997 Emmy Award for Outstanding Makeup for a Miniseries or a Special – Wynona Price, Matthew W. Mungle
  • 1998 Golden Globe Award for Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV


What was the major controversy about the Tuskegee Experiment?

By the end of the experiment, 28 of the men had died directly of syphilis, 100 were dead of related complications, 40 of their wives had been infected, and 19 of their children had been born with congenital syphilis. How had these men been induced to endure a fatal disease in the name of science?
To persuade the community to support the experiment, one of the original doctors admitted it “was necessary to carry on this study under the guise of a demonstration and provide treatment.” At first, the men were prescribed the syphilis remedies of the day—bismuth, neoarsphenamine, and mercury— but in such small amounts that only 3 percent showed any improvement.
These token doses of medicine were good public relations and did not interfere with the true aims of the study. Eventually, all syphilis treatment was replaced with “pink medicine”—aspirin.
To ensure that the men would show up for a painful and potentially dangerous spinal tap, the PHS doctors misled them with a letter full of promotional hype: “Last Chance for Special Free Treatment.” The fact that autopsies would eventually be required was also concealed.

Name 3 historical facts that you learned — Things that you did not know before viewing this film?


1)      I didn’t know anything about this experiment before

2)      I also didn’t know that in this experiment, poor African American males were not treated for syphillis and not told of their true condition.

3)      I also did not know that when penicillin became available as a treatment, the subjects were not afforded the option of getting the shots or that they depending on the stage of the disease they could have died from it



Did you like this film? Why? Why not?

I did like this movie because I always like to learn about things that I don’t know yet.

The film is an excellent study in medical ethics. It’s impossible to watch this movie without tears in your eyes and anger in your heart. I believe “Miss Ever’s Boys” is a good education for students of Black History as well as medicine, nursing, and ethics.

I really enjoyed seeing how this nurse was very dedicated to them and helping them and staying with them until the end. How she fought to save them knowing the outcome and having the courage to face the senate when being question about what happen. She stated to the senate committee that she gave all the love she had to these men. She shouldn’t have been so stupid though to believe they would actually be treated.


~ by Colorful Soul on 04/06/2012.

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