Hattiesburg hosts Hollywood for special screening of “Devotion”

Published: Dec. 4, 2022 at 12:49 AM CST
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - It was a red carpet night at the Saenger Theater in Hattiesburg Saturday evening, as the Hub City hosted a special screening of the new movie, “Devotion.”

It’s about the life of Hattiesburg aviation hero Ensign Jesse L. Brown, and his friend and wingman, Lt. Thomas Hudner Jr.

Brown died in combat on Dec. 4, 1950, when his airplane was shot down.

Hudner intentionally crash-landed his own plane in an attempt to save Brown.

For his bravery, Hudner was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Hudner died in 2017.

The screening in Hattiesburg was part of a nationwide publicity tour for the film.

Among those attending were members of the Brown and Hudner families.

“I’m just elated about everything that’s going on and the fact that Hattiesburg has gotten into it and did this wonderful thing to honor a hometown boy,” said Pamela Brown Knight, daughter of Jesse L. Brown.

“I’m very grateful to count the Brown family as close friends and so I certainly wanted to be here to support them, to support the community,” said Thomas Hudner III, son of Thomas Hudner, Jr. “It always meant so much to my father to visit Hattiesburg and spend time with the Brown family.”

Also attending were cast members Jonathan Majors (Jesse L. Brown) Glen Powell (Thomas Hudner Jr.) and Christina Jackson (Daisy Brown).

Producer Rachel Smith and director J.D. Dillard were also there.

“It’s really special to be coming full circle,” said Rachel Smith. “The movie is now out, so to end our publicity tour here was always part of the plan and close to the anniversary of the (Jesse Brown) crash, Dec. 4, 1950, so it was sort of serendipitous that it all lined up.”

“The type of man Jesse was it’s so representative of the people that raised him and the community that he grew up in, so to be here in Hattiesburg really feels like seeing the beginning of the movie, the beginning of his story,” said J.D. Dillard.

Prior to the screening, a reception was held at Hattiesburg’s African-American Military History Museum, which features an exhibit on Jesse Brown.

During the reception, cast members, along with Dillard and Smith, were each presented with keys to the city from Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker.

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