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Monday, May 27, 2013

Don Malcolm: A REPREHENSIBLE SLANDER IN “42”

“False Gods will bring the devil the blues
Don’t slander me, don’t slander me”

42, directed and written by Brian Helgeland, takes a page of out the demonological playbook usually reserved for the Fox News contingent and creates a completely false set of events to “bolster” a story that needed no such artificial augmentation.

Helgeland, a lauded veteran talent whose involvement in two problematic neo-noir “masterpieces” (L.A. Confidential and Mystic River) has given him the kind of credibility more akin to a ticking time bomb than any guarantee of principle or actual craftsmanship, has committed a completely unwarranted and reprehensible slander in his treacly, tendentious retelling of the Jackie Robinson story, and deserves nothing more or less than a lawsuit jammed up his posterior as a result.

...(And, in fact, the Dodgers did not actually clinch the pennant that day. They only clinched a tie for the pennant. But the “double dosing” of Ostermueller was just too convenient for a seasoned Hollywood hack like Helgeland to resist.)

Helgeland should issue an apology to Fritz Ostermueller’s daughter for his slander of her father. Failing that, he should be barred from making any more films. For all his talent, he has shown the ultimate in bad faith, particularly in the service of a progressive cause. He needs to make amends.

This is not the place for a complete analysis of 42—an excellent effort at that has already been undertaken by ESPN’s Howard Bryant, who covers the film from the lens of history and how that has already been fissured into a series of lingering legends. It is the place to wonder why it was necessary to add character assassination to an already leaking stew of historical shortcuts—some “understandable” (as Ostermueller’s daughter suggests), but others simply exasperating.

It’s one thing to be historically inaccurate, however—but entirely another to go out of one’s way to slander an innocent bystander. Barring a public apology, Helgeland should be banished from Hollywood.

Repoz Posted: May 27, 2013 at 05:59 AM | 68 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

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   1. shoelesjoe Posted: May 27, 2013 at 08:59 AM (#4452881)
Slandering Fritz Ostermueller is a crime against humanity, but slandering Fox News is perfectly acceptable. Got it.
   2. Matt Welch Posted: May 27, 2013 at 09:03 AM (#4452883)
Failing that, he should be barred from making any more films.

Charming.
   3. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 27, 2013 at 09:18 AM (#4452884)
Well, when you consider the sheer gratuitousness of what his film did to Fritz Ostermuller, I can't say that I'd be wanting Helgeland to be doing any more biopics. It's one thing to rearrange the sequence of events for dramatic purposes, it's another thing altogether to impute near-pathological racism to someone where there's no real evidence to back it up.
   4. Shredder Posted: May 27, 2013 at 09:21 AM (#4452886)
Slandering Fritz Ostermueller is a crime against humanity, but slandering Fox News is perfectly acceptable. Got it.
It would actually be libel, since it's written. But truth is an absolute defense, so Don is in the clear.
   5. Bruce Markusen Posted: May 27, 2013 at 09:22 AM (#4452887)
Don lost me when he took a shot at LA Confidential, one of the best films of all time.
   6. BDC Posted: May 27, 2013 at 09:22 AM (#4452888)
There's a kernel of a point here – one hates to see a real person's name tacked onto a composite movie villain – but the kernel comes wrapped in such histrionics that nobody will be able to agree with it.

Edit: Except Andy, evidently :) No, I agree too, I just hate to endorse the specific language of TFA …
   7. Dale Sams Posted: May 27, 2013 at 09:35 AM (#4452891)
It’s one thing to be historically inaccurate, however—but entirely another to go out of one’s way to slander an innocent bystander. Barring a public apology, Helgeland should be banished from Hollywood.


And you guys said CBG had no passion for baseball.
   8. Mayor Blomberg Posted: May 27, 2013 at 09:45 AM (#4452895)
@5 - Bruce, I just saw your article on Ostermueller, with its anecdote suggesting an intentional hit, though not in the head.

Yes, it's one teammate, but on the other hand, color me shocked that a daughter would defend her late father.

Care to comment?
   9. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 09:45 AM (#4452896)
I haven't seen "42" but I doubt this purported slander could be as shamelessly unfounded as that done to former heavyweight champion Max Baer in Ron Howard's "Cinderella Man."
   10. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 27, 2013 at 09:50 AM (#4452897)
There's a kernel of a point here – one hates to see a real person's name tacked onto a composite movie villain – but the kernel comes wrapped in such histrionics that nobody will be able to agree with it.

Edit: Except Andy, evidently :) No, I agree too, I just hate to endorse the specific language of TFA …


Honest questions that have nothing to do with the overall tone of Malcolm's article:

1. Why did Helgeland feel compelled to slander Ostermueller in the manner he did? Is this really part of what should be considered "dramatic license"? I can't see how it could possibly be justified without any specific evidence that the racist actions of Ostermueller depicted in the film actually took place---as they did in the case of Ben Chapman.

2. If you were in the position of Ostermueller's daughter, what would you think should be the proper reaction?
   11. Howie Menckel Posted: May 27, 2013 at 09:52 AM (#4452898)
histrionics aside, and I am not a total purist when it comes to movies - this seems as if that was grossly unfair by the filmmaker.

once you've turned the lefty into a righty, invented a brawl, turned a 4th-inning HR into a walkoff, and made it a pennant-winner when it wasn't - at that point, why bother using a real name at all?

99.x pct of the audience never heard of the pitcher anyway, and a pct of the tiny fraction that do will just notice the inaccuracies eventually. I do agree the guy deserves to be called out, if the facts of this article are true.

The call for public beheading of the director - and subsequent distribution of the entrails to the crowd via those NBA game t-shirt launchers, once the pack of hyenas had had their way with the torso - does seem a little over the top, however..

   12. Bruce Markusen Posted: May 27, 2013 at 09:56 AM (#4452900)
There is a former player, a onetime teammate of Ostermueller, who says that Fritz showed some racist tendencies. More specifically, this player, who prefers to be anonymous, claimed that Ostermueller once said, "I'm going to hit that black bastard."

Unfortunately, the film got many of the details wrong and exaggerated Ostermueller's role as a villain.
   13. Greg K Posted: May 27, 2013 at 10:03 AM (#4452902)
Don lost me when he took a shot at LA Confidential, one of the best films of all time.

That part confused me as well. I don't remember much about Mystic River (except that I somehow went into the theatre thinking it was called "Mr. Gribber" and at one point when Laurence Fishburn came on screen asked my friend, "so is he Mr. Gribber?"), but I've only ever heard high praise for LA Confidential. I even really like it, and it's not a genre I'm usually drawn to.
   14. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 27, 2013 at 10:06 AM (#4452905)
Bruce,

If Ostermueller were still alive, do you think there's one chance in a hundred that Helgeland would have taken liberties with the facts about Ostermueller in the way he did in the movie?
   15. BDC Posted: May 27, 2013 at 10:11 AM (#4452907)
After I left the theatre, till I read TFA, I could not have told you that the villain in the film was supposed to be Fritz Ostermueller. He's named in the credits, but does John McGinley (as Red Barber) or another character ever name him in the film? Howie is right, this whole flap could have been avoided simply by naming the character Snidely Legree or something.
   16. DA Baracus Posted: May 27, 2013 at 10:13 AM (#4452908)
A REPREHENSIBLE SLANDER IN “42”... MR. PRESIDENT

If Ostermueller were still alive, do you think there's one chance in a hundred that Helgeland would have taken liberties with the facts about Ostermueller in the way he did in the movie?


Sure. It didn't stop Tom Hooper from making The Damned United. One of the characters in the book successfully sued for libel, they still made the movie and then one of the characters in the movie successfully sued the filmmakers.

Still a fantastic movie though.
   17. Howie Menckel Posted: May 27, 2013 at 10:24 AM (#4452914)

"He's named in the credits, but does John McGinley (as Red Barber) or another character ever name him in the film?"

I haven't seen the movie yet. If he isn't named except in some tiny credits that no one will ever see, then I'd withdraw almost all of the objection...

   18. Good cripple hitter Posted: May 27, 2013 at 10:44 AM (#4452925)
After I left the theatre, till I read TFA, I could not have told you that the villain in the film was supposed to be Fritz Ostermueller. He's named in the credits, but does John McGinley (as Red Barber) or another character ever name him in the film? Howie is right, this whole flap could have been avoided simply by naming the character Snidely Legree or something.


It's been a long time since I saw 42, but I remember going home and doing a baseball-reference search on Ostermueller. I'm pretty sure that Barber repeatedly refers to his name, and maybe someone on the Dodgers bench uses his name.
   19. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 27, 2013 at 10:52 AM (#4452928)
If Ostermueller were still alive, do you think there's one chance in a hundred that Helgeland would have taken liberties with the facts about Ostermueller in the way he did in the movie?

Sure. It didn't stop Tom Hooper from making The Damned United. One of the characters in the book successfully sued for libel, they still made the movie and then one of the characters in the movie successfully sued the filmmakers.


I've never heard of either Tom Hooper or The Damned United, but I'm not sure that a still-living Fritz Ostermueller might have well deterred Helgeland from embellishing that particular incident, especially given the ugly racial nature of the scene.


   20. Greg K Posted: May 27, 2013 at 10:54 AM (#4452930)
I haven't seen "42" but I doubt this purported slander could be as shamelessly unfounded as that done to former heavyweight champion Max Baer in Ron Howard's "Cinderella Man."

I'm still steamed over Alexandre Dumas's slander of poor old George Villiers in The Three Musketeers, that cad!
   21. cardsfanboy Posted: May 27, 2013 at 11:04 AM (#4452932)
Sure. It didn't stop Tom Hooper from making The Damned United. One of the characters in the book successfully sued for libel, they still made the movie and then one of the characters in the movie successfully sued the filmmakers.


Similar thing happened in The Hurricane, with Joey Giardello.
   22. The District Attorney Posted: May 27, 2013 at 11:08 AM (#4452935)
I guess that's what you get for being named "Fritz Ostermueller" just a couple years after the war ended.

I don't remember much about Mystic River (except that I somehow went into the theatre thinking it was called "Mr. Gribber" and at one point when Laurence Fishburn came on screen asked my friend, "so is he Mr. Gribber?")
This is so great.
   23. Greg K Posted: May 27, 2013 at 11:13 AM (#4452938)
I've never heard of either Tom Hooper or The Damned United, but I'm not sure that a still-living Fritz Ostermueller might have well deterred Helgeland from embellishing that particular incident, especially given the ugly racial nature of the scene.

I'd recommend The Damned United for any fan of sports movies (or sports really...or any fan of movies for that matter).

And Tom Hooper is the guy who also directed The King's Speech and the latest Les Mis incarnation.
   24. Greg K Posted: May 27, 2013 at 11:15 AM (#4452939)
This is so great.

Especially embarrassing because the during the opening credits I obviously realized the actual name of the movie...but half an hour in I'd already forgotten that.
   25. Ron J2 Posted: May 27, 2013 at 11:25 AM (#4452947)
#21 You can find the Giardello/Carter fight at youtube. It's certainly no rout. It's defensible to believe Carter won -- best I can tell he landed the harder shots but Giardello landed more.

I do know that roughly 75% of the ringside reporters felt Giardello had won. And that when one of the recent fight shows reviewed it the commentator (Kellerman?) felt that Giardello won narrowly.

What I find interesting is that if I recall correctly Carter was stepping up in weight class but looks to be the naturally bigger/stronger man.
   26. lonestarball Posted: May 27, 2013 at 11:28 AM (#4452949)
From the article:

As all credible historical accounts of the incident indicate, Ostermueller pitched a 12-hit shutout against the Dodgers that day (May 17, 1947). Robinson was hit on the left wrist in the first inning; there was no brawl, and there were no harsh words uttered before or after Robinson was hit.


From a 1997 SI piece by William Nack:

On May 17, when Pittsburgh pitcher Fritz Ostermueller nearly beaned him with a rising fastball—it struck Robinson's arm as he jerked it up to shield his head—the Dodgers in the dugout rose to their feet, gathered on the steps and peppered Ostermueller with threats and profanity. In the May 24 Pittsburgh Courier, Robinson's closest friend among the writers, Wendell Smith, wrote, "It was then that they displayed, probably for the first time, that they regard him as one of them."


http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1010023/6/index.htm

I assume the author is calling Nack's article not credible?

   27. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 27, 2013 at 12:07 PM (#4452972)
I assume the author is calling Nack's article not credible?

I've looked up several sources concerning that game, and they all agree that the movie accurately depicted the pitch---meaning that it was a ball that hit Robinson's upraised arm---but I've yet to see any account that describes Ostermueller's verbal taunting as seen in the movie.

If the movie had simply cut out the "enhancement" of putting words in Ostermueller's mouth, then there wouldn't have been---or at least there couldn't have been---any objection on factual grounds, since Robinson was indeed hit by the pitch, even if he didn't lie there on the ground afterward. But when Helgeland added that prologue commentary, that's when he stepped over the line.
   28. cardsfanboy Posted: May 27, 2013 at 12:12 PM (#4452978)
I do know that roughly 75% of the ringside reporters felt Giardello had won. And that when one of the recent fight shows reviewed it the commentator (Kellerman?) felt that Giardello won narrowly.


Carter said that Giardello won the fight, and Giardello sued the movie and they settled out of court.
   29. Rennie's Tenet Posted: May 27, 2013 at 12:46 PM (#4453006)
Our last big biopic, Lincoln, contained an inaccuracy in which the Connecticut congressional delegation was depicted as voting against the 13th Amendment when in fact they voted for it. It's tough to reconcile someone being an expert storyteller without him or her being able to find drama in the true story of race in America.


   30. Howie Menckel Posted: May 27, 2013 at 12:46 PM (#4453007)
I don't see a contradiction between the two Jackie Robinson articles. In fact, the latter reinforces the former's note that "there was no brawl."

The second article adds the point about JR getting hit on the arm as the ball was near his head, and that Dodgers teammates were riled up about it.

Baseball in the 1930s and 1940s particularly (though really from the 19th century as well) was pretty rugged. It didn't take JR's arrival for bench-jockeying, name-calling, and ethnic slurs to begin - either from the dugout or from the crowd.

I wouldn't be shocked if Ostermuller was throwing at him AND if his race had something to do with it. But one anonymous teammate isn't enough to tell me that his name should have been in the movie. Seems like a cheap shot.
   31. Srul Itza At Home Posted: May 27, 2013 at 01:32 PM (#4453026)
Don lost me when he took a shot at LA Confidential, one of the best films of all time.


That was my first visceral reaction. At that point, Malcolm loses all credibility in any discussion of film.

And he may be totally correct about Ostermueller, but he should lay off saying stupid things about dead people or estates filing for libel or slander. In almost every state, libel and slander claims are personal, and do not survive the death of the person being libeled.
   32. lonestarball Posted: May 27, 2013 at 03:08 PM (#4453073)
I don't see a contradiction between the two Jackie Robinson articles. In fact, the latter reinforces the former's note that "there was no brawl."


Malcolm says there were no harsh words. The SI piece says there were threats and profanity.
   33. rlc Posted: May 27, 2013 at 08:10 PM (#4453238)
And Tom Hooper is the guy who also directed The King's Speech


So does Mr. Gribber eat the King's peach?
   34. JE (Jason) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 11:55 PM (#4453347)
Speaking of The King's Speech, here is what Hitch had to say about the film's depiction of Bertie:

Here again, the airbrush and the Vaseline are partners. When Neville Chamberlain managed to outpoint the coalition of the Labour Party, the Liberal Party, and the Churchillian Tories and to hand to his friend Hitler the majority of the Czechoslovak people, along with all that country's vast munitions factories, he received an unheard-of political favor. Landing at Heston Airport on his return from Munich, he was greeted by a royal escort in full uniform and invited to drive straight to Buckingham Palace. A written message from King George VI urged his attendance, "so that I can express to you personally my most heartfelt congratulations. … [T]his letter brings the warmest of welcomes to one who, by his patience and determination, has earned the lasting gratitude of his fellow countrymen throughout the Empire." Chamberlain was then paraded on the palace balcony, saluted by royalty in front of cheering crowds. Thus the Munich sell-out had received the royal assent beforethe prime minister was obliged to go to Parliament and justify what he had done. The opposition forces were checkmated before the game had begun. Britain does not have a written Constitution, but by ancient custom the royal assent is given to measures after they have passed through both houses of Parliament. So Tory historian Andrew Roberts, in his definitively damning essay "The House of Windsor and the Politics of Appeasement," is quite correct to cite fellow scholar John Grigg in support of his view that by acting as they did to grant pre-emptive favor to Chamberlain, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter to you) "committed the most unconstitutional act by a British Sovereign in the present century."

The private letters and diaries of the royal family demonstrate a continued, consistent allegiance to the policy of appeasement and to the personality of Chamberlain. King George's forbidding mother wrote to him, exasperated that more people in the House of Commons had not cheered the sellout. The king himself, even after the Nazi armies had struck deep north into Scandinavia and clear across the low countries to France, did not wish to accept Chamberlain's resignation. He "told him how grossly unfairly he had been treated, and that I was genuinely sorry." Discussing a successor, the king wrote that "I, of course, suggested [Lord] Halifax." It was explained to him that this arch-appeaser would not do and that anyway a wartime coalition could hardly be led by an unelected member of the House of Lords. Unimpressed, the king told his diary that he couldn't get used to the idea of Churchill as prime minister and had greeted the defeated Halifax to tell him that he wished he had been chosen instead. All this can easily be known by anybody willing to do some elementary research.
   35. Sunday silence Posted: May 28, 2013 at 02:04 AM (#4453381)
There is a former player, a onetime teammate of Ostermueller, who says that Fritz showed some racist tendencies. More specifically, this player, who prefers to be anonymous, claimed that Ostermueller once said, "I'm going to hit that black bastard."


Frankly, I am surprised none of you did a tracer on who this might be. A quick study of the '47 Pirates seems to be that there are only two players left of any note (there might be a very minor bench player left as well) from that team. One of them is Wally Westlake.

And the other....?
   36. The District Attorney Posted: May 28, 2013 at 02:12 AM (#4453385)
Kiner?
   37. Alex meets the threshold for granular review Posted: May 28, 2013 at 02:16 AM (#4453386)
Don lost me when he took a shot at LA Confidential, one of the best films of all time.


That's an oversell.
   38. bjhanke Posted: May 28, 2013 at 04:10 AM (#4453397)
On the Names - My memory of 42 is that players and managers only got mentioned by their last names. Chapman, Reese, Walker, Ostermueller, but no Ben, Pee Wee, Dixie or Fritz. I don't remember whether first names are NEVER mentioned, but I do remember, while watching the movie, noticing that last names were appearing without the first names, and wondering why the director made that decision.

While I might not be as strident as Don is about damning the director, I had my own problems with the Ostermueller fictionalization. I, like most of you, probably get asked by friends who are casual baseball fans what the movie is like. I want to reply that it's about as close to a documentary as you can expect. Neither Jackie nor Branch is horribly sanitized, and the incidents with players and managers, on his team and others, are well documented. Except for the Ostermueller, this is pretty true. But the Ostermueller is so far off, and fictionalized in two different places, that I can't really give them that review, which means that I can't really give the movie the due I think it probably deserves. In general, it's a pretty good job of portraying Jackie factually and without a halo, but the Ostermueller is a really big problem.

I have never seen L. A. Confidential, so I have no opinion of it. However, I do know that Don spends a LOT of time critiquing film, more or less specializes in film noir, and lives in L. A. If I had the huge difference of opinion about that movie that some of you seem to have with Don, I'd ask him what problems he had, and/or go take another look at the movie. Don has done the work to earn some respect on that topic. But, then, I've been collecting superhero comics since 1958 (yes, seriously), and tend to think that I have some credibility when dealing with superhero movies. And I think that Iron Man 3 is a pretty good job of showing Tony Stark's journey of self-discovery, where he realizes that he takes on too much responsibility for everything, gets overwhelmed whenever he thinks he's inadequate (like when he compares himself to Thor and calls himself "a man in a can") and leads the viewer to realize that Stark's ventures into casinos and one night stands with supermodels is his way of blowing off the steam pressure he has applied to himself. The movie's constant throwing of quick-timed spectacle at you is its way of trying to give you the feeling of being overwhelmed that Tony feels - this is what his life is like; things go horribly wrong all the time, on no notice, and in a big fat hurry, forcing him to respond with less planning than he would doubtless like. I've gotten some odd looks for this opinion. - Brock Hanke
   39. Sunday silence Posted: May 28, 2013 at 04:13 AM (#4453398)
Kiner is correct.
   40. BDC Posted: May 28, 2013 at 09:54 AM (#4453481)
Arnold Rampersad's biography of Robinson mentions that Ostermueller "almost beaned Jack," hitting him in the arm instead, and that the Dodgers "rained imprecations on Ostermueller's head" (177). The only other mentions of Ostermueller in the book are of Robinson stealing home against him on 24 June, and Dan Bankhead hitting a home run against him (in his first big-league PA) on 26 August (both 1947).

One thing about 42 that mildly bothered me was that Bankhead, Larry Doby, Willard Brown, and Hank Thompson didn't exist in the film's universe. One understands the dramatic intention to focus on Robinson, but in some ways the flurry of integration that (a few) other teams went in for very early on in '47 and '48 really underlined Robinson's importance. A minor quibble, I suppose.

As for LA Confidential, I think it's a stylish picture and conveys James Ellroy's weird hyperkinetic style as well as a film can; I'd be intrigued to know why anyone would think it was anathema. The weakest part of the picture for me might have been Kim Basinger; I was never much impressed with her as an actress. She won an Oscar for the role, but that has never really been an imprimatur of quality …
   41. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 10:02 AM (#4453487)
It's one thing to rearrange the sequence of events for dramatic purposes, it's another thing altogether to impute near-pathological racism to someone where there's no real evidence to back it up.


I've never heard anything about Ostermueller specifically being a racist, but there's no question that there was a lot of racial animus on the Pirates teams of that era. It's not a coincidence that several of the Dodgers players who were traded as a result of issues with Robinson, such as Kirby Higbe and Dixie Walker, ended up in Pittsburgh.

According to former Pirates infielder Whitey Wietelmann, as quoted in this 1987 newspaper article, Ostermueller did throw at Robinson in the PA in question - but he did so under instructions from manager Billy Herman. There was also a standing $50 fine for any Pirates 2B or SS who didn't throw at Robinson coming into second during a DP.

The biggest change that I noticed WRT Ostermueller's character is that they changed him from a LHP to a RHP.
   42. Howie Menckel Posted: May 28, 2013 at 10:16 AM (#4453499)

"The biggest change that I noticed WRT Ostermueller's character is that they changed him from a LHP to a RHP."

that's the biggest change you noticed WRT Ostermuller's character? the unsubstantiated claim that he was racist takes a back seat to which hand he used to throw a baseball?

   43. AROM Posted: May 28, 2013 at 10:44 AM (#4453524)
You pick a person from 1947 at random and call them racist, you're pretty likely to be correct. Especially if you go by today's standards.
   44. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 28, 2013 at 10:54 AM (#4453538)
Even if you accept the idea that Ostermueller was a racist in the same way that most Americans in 1947 were racist, that's still a long way from the degree of racist obsession on his part that was exhibited in the movie. Not the near-beaning, but the verbal abuse that preceded it.
   45. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 10:59 AM (#4453549)
Don lost me when he took a shot at LA Confidential, one of the best films of all time.


I turned the film off halfway, bored and irritated with it for wasting my time.
   46. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 11:02 AM (#4453555)
Legally speaking, you pretty much can't defame a dead man. So Helgeland had nothing to fear as far as that goes.

It doesn't stop him from being deemed a jackass, of course.

What I can never understand with these films that purport to be re-tellings of history is: The story is interesting and fascinating and stands under its own weight. So why invent things? You're telling a story about Jackie Robinson and there wasn't enough interesting material there, so you had to go make stuff up? Why.
   47. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 11:09 AM (#4453563)
The Moneyball film was completely unfair to Art Howe, basically painting him as a methodical, deranged, psychotic manager one step from a serial killer.
   48. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 11:10 AM (#4453564)
Our last big biopic, Lincoln, contained an inaccuracy in which the Connecticut congressional delegation was depicted as voting against the 13th Amendment when in fact they voted for it. It's tough to reconcile someone being an expert storyteller without him or her being able to find drama in the true story of race in America.


I didn't see Lincoln because I'm not interested in epic period pieces - I find them boring, silly, and dated - but yes, this is the kind of thing I'm talking about.
   49. Rennie's Tenet Posted: May 28, 2013 at 11:14 AM (#4453569)
there's no question that there was a lot of racial animus on the Pirates teams of that era.


Robinson was hit by pitches 9 times during the season (Whitey Kurowski led the league with 10), four of those by the Pirates. The Pirates were the only team to hit Robinson after June 1, and did it three times.
   50. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 28, 2013 at 11:18 AM (#4453574)
What I can never understand with these films that purport to be re-tellings of history is: The story is interesting and fascinating and stands under its own weight. So why invent things? You're telling a story about Jackie Robinson and there wasn't enough interesting material there, so you had to go make stuff up? Why.

Good question that I repeatedly keep wondering about myself. Especially when it comes to lives like Jackie Robinson's, truth is always more interesting than fiction.

The Moneyball film was completely unfair to Art Howe, basically painting him as a methodical, deranged, psychotic manager one step from a serial killer.

I just watched Moneyball for the first time less than two weeks ago, and while I thought it was a very good movie overall, that whole Howe character was so overdone to the point of cartooning that it made me suspicious of a lot of other incidents that were portrayed. OTOH I did a tracer on the A's 20th straight win in 2002, and it did check out in terms of the events on the field.
   51. Lassus Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:39 PM (#4453658)
The Moneyball film was completely unfair to Art Howe, basically painting him as a methodical, deranged, psychotic manager one step from a serial killer.

Which to me was doubly weird as he was the most boring manager I've ever watched or listened to.
   52. esseff Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:39 PM (#4453659)
The biggest change that I noticed WRT Ostermueller's character is that they changed him from a LHP to a RHP.


This is how I know, to answer an earlier question, that the character was identifiable in the movie as Ostermueller. Because I'm watching it in the theater and thinking, "Wait, that's Ostermueller? But Ostermueller was left-handed."

I wonder why filmmakers keep making these flubs. Joe Jackson hit right-handed in "Field of Dreams," Dickey Kerr pitched right-handed in "Eight Men Out." Are they casting roles without regard to handedness and figuring that part doesn't matter?
   53. bjhanke Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:45 PM (#4453665)
Ray's #46 is dead on: What I can never understand with these films that purport to be re-tellings of history is: The story is interesting and fascinating and stands under its own weight. So why invent things? You're telling a story about Jackie Robinson and there wasn't enough interesting material there, so you had to go make stuff up? Why?

This applies to pretty much any biopic, if the main character actually does have enough story to tell, and it also applies to adaptations. If you've got a huge media hit novel, or play, or comic book, for that matter, why mess with it? Tell the story that sold YOU on making the movie. That should be the mantra of any director attempting either of these two kinds of film. - Brock
   54. zonk Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:53 PM (#4453676)
The call for public beheading of the director - and subsequent distribution of the entrails to the crowd via those NBA game t-shirt launchers, once the pack of hyenas had had their way with the torso - does seem a little over the top, however..


Pshaw... What you describe is the internet equivalent of a gentle wag of the finger IRL.
   55. BDC Posted: May 28, 2013 at 01:03 PM (#4453690)
Dickey Kerr pitched right-handed in "Eight Men Out"

IIRC, Eddie Collins batted RH in the same film, and Buck Weaver, though a switch-hitter, was seen only as a RHB (perhaps realistically, as the Reds did have a couple of LH starters in the Series).

I think it's hard to find actors who can convincingly bat or throw left-handed. (Hard enough, as Anthony Perkins proved, to find ones who can convincingly play baseball at all.)

Most of the time this does not bother me. It would have bothered me if Lou Gehrig had batted RH in The Pride of the Yankees (and we had that wonderful link here recently about the work that Gary Cooper put into learning to be a LHB, the film only being "reversed" in a single brief sequence). It did bother me in Field of Dreams, because Jackson was a great star player. Not to add insult to injury, but Fritz Ostermueller was a pretty ordinary ballplayer, and I wouldn't have had the first idea which hand he threw with if it hadn't have come up here.

   56. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 01:10 PM (#4453697)
that's the biggest change you noticed WRT Ostermuller's character?


Yes, it is. That's why I wrote, "The biggest change that I noticed WRT Ostermueller's character is that they changed him from a LHP to a RHP."

I wonder why filmmakers keep making these flubs.


In this case, I have two theories. The first is that by changing some trivial details about Ostermueller, such as handedness, they get an added fig leaf of protection against the charge that they smeared him as a racist (since it's not really "him" if the details are different). The second is that it's a lot easier to find decent right-throwing actors than left-throwing ones.
   57. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 01:11 PM (#4453701)
L.A. Confidential is a pretty good movie, but it doesn't even come close to the book, IMO.

Though of course it's not hard to understand why they cut out all the Disney stuff. They'd get sued so fast their heads would spin.
   58. BDC Posted: May 28, 2013 at 01:11 PM (#4453702)
it's not really "him" if the details are different

I dunno, it would have been super-easy to change his name to Hans Weisenheimer while they were at it :)
   59. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 01:15 PM (#4453708)
I think it's hard to find actors who can convincingly bat or throw left-handed. (Hard enough, as Anthony Perkins proved, to find ones who can convincingly play baseball at all.)


Yes, but Perkins was gay, so it was silly to ask him to play an athlete :P
   60. SuperGrover Posted: May 28, 2013 at 01:38 PM (#4453754)
I don't remember much about Mystic River


It's the movie in which Sean Penn stole Bill Murray's oscar.
   61. Alex meets the threshold for granular review Posted: May 28, 2013 at 01:48 PM (#4453761)
Though of course it's not hard to understand why they cut out all the Disney stuff. They'd get sued so fast their heads would spin.


Speaking of which, my most-wanted movie of 2013 (that I may never get the chance to see):

Escape from Tomorrow
   62. Srul Itza Posted: May 28, 2013 at 01:50 PM (#4453768)
L.A. Confidential is a pretty good movie, but it doesn't even come close to the book, IMO.


If you were over-focused on the plot, you missed a damn good movie with some great scenes and performances. Too bad for you.
   63. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 01:50 PM (#4453769)
Come to think of it, there was a pretty big subplot taken out of Mystic River for commercial reasons, too, wasn't there? (I'm speaking of the thing with the grown-up Tim Robbins character.)
   64. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 01:57 PM (#4453778)
If you were over-focused on the plot, you missed a damn good movie with some great scenes and performances. Too bad for you.


I'm not saying I didn't like it. The acting's pretty good across the board, and it does a nice job of establishing a mood and a tone. I just thought the book was better, due to the deeper themes and the way it weaves the extra strands of the plot together. As long as you're able to deal with Ellroy's unusual style of prose, it's definitely worth a read.
   65. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 03:55 PM (#4453914)
Robinson was hit by pitches 9 times during the season (Whitey Kurowski led the league with 10),


Racists!
   66. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 03:56 PM (#4453916)
I guess that's what you get for being named "Fritz Ostermueller" just a couple years after the war ended.


Even worse, "Ostermueller" translates as "I (heart) the Fuhrer" in English.
   67. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 05:22 PM (#4454017)
Whitey Kurowski led the league with 10


Kurowski had developed a bone infection as a child, necessitating the removal of several inches' worth of his right ulna. As a result, he had kind of a weird little tyrannosaurus arm on that side (see here), and he needed to crowd the plate in order to have any chance of connecting with outside stuff.
   68. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: May 28, 2013 at 06:12 PM (#4454057)
42, directed and written by Brian Helgeland, takes a page of out the demonological playbook usually reserved for the Fox News contingent

...and that's where I stopped reading. Next!

Also, fun fact: "demonological" is not a real word.

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