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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Film Review: 42

There is already talk of a sequel - “43: This Time Its Personal”

Despite the film’s sleek feel, the basic life story with its tribulations and triumphs remain intact. It’s inspiring, especially as depicted by Boseman who has the swagger of a young Denzel Washington. Serious, stoic, pent up. If anything he suppresses his anger better than Washington, letting it ride under the surface, so when it erupts, it’s dramatic, forceful. The physicality of his performance—mimicking Robinson’s awkward batting stance and freaky, base-stealing agility—is uncanny.

The romance between Jackie and his wife Rachel (Nicole Beharie; Shame and American Violet) depicts a strong foundation. Beharie flaunts the charm and determination that is trademark of the real Mrs. Robinson. Lucas Black as Brooklyn Dodgers shortstop Pee Wee Reese, is the quintessential character actor; the one you call when you need a Southern man with a solid persona. Tudyk as Chapman is suitable vicious and unremorseful as the “N” word rolls off his tongue with venom that would shame the KKK. Harrison, a lead actor, is not an obvious choice to play an historical character. His performance seems a bit studied, clunky and theatrical, but eventually he wins you over.

Hegeland’s script spends the right amount of time exploring Robinson’s inner self. He wasn’t just a skilled athlete; he was a keen strategist, a smart man’s player. He could get under the skin of any pitcher by stealing bases with the cunning of a fox. He was ferocious, yet a gentleman. The flaw in the script is that too often the characters talk in platitudes, and not like real people. Particularly Rickey; probably he was as smart businessman with certain ideals and solid morals. It’s unlikely that every sentence he uttered was prosaic, poignant and prophetic: “Dollars aren’t black and white, they’re green.”

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 02:42 PM | 181 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: 42, baseball in film, ben chapman, branch rickey, dodgers, hollywood, jackie robinson, movies, pee wee reese

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   1. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: April 09, 2013 at 05:20 PM (#4408775)
I can't wait to see this movie.
   2. Sonic Youk Posted: April 09, 2013 at 05:30 PM (#4408784)
Repeated viewings of the trailer have really turned me off this thing. The part in the middle where theres nothing else but Jay-Z loudly declaring "WHEN I RUN BASE I DODGE THE PEN" is an especially interesting choice. I wouldn't usually put references to slinging coke into a movie about a civil rights hero, but thats just me.
   3. Publius Publicola Posted: April 09, 2013 at 05:33 PM (#4408785)
I don't know. I'm afraid it will be too hagiographic and not capture the moral dilemma correctly. Robinson's choice was pretty clear- he just could either choose to play or not play. There was no moral dilemma on his part, he was in the right. There's no debate about that now. The real drama, I think, is the dilemma the white players, mamagers and coaches found themselves in. They could either go along with the crowd and not be supportive, or they could be supportive and risk ostracism too. They were being forced to choose what side of history they were going to be on. that's a more interesting story, IMO.


Not to diminish Robinson's legacy though. He WAS a hero. It's just that his story doesn't translate all that well to drama because his dilemma had no moral choice dimension, at least for him.
   4. Lassus Posted: April 09, 2013 at 05:36 PM (#4408788)
It's just that his story doesn't translate all that well to drama because his dilemma had no moral choice dimension, at least for him.

I think when you're living it, the dilemma over whether or not you might get pretty seriously injured makes the moral dilemma not really a given.
   5. Publius Publicola Posted: April 09, 2013 at 05:43 PM (#4408793)
Well, that's a dilemma but not a moral one. I guess you could construct the narrative around his ability to be able to hold his emotions in check and not lash out. But I'm not sure that makes a good storyline either.
   6. ronackner Posted: April 09, 2013 at 05:54 PM (#4408800)
I just sincerely hope this movie is as good as this review indicates. Early springtime movies tend to be the trash that isn't big enough for the summer or good enough for the fall/winter. On the other hand, they may just have timed the movie to coincide with the anniversary of Robinson's major league debut (April 15).
   7. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: April 09, 2013 at 06:06 PM (#4408811)
I am convinced this movie will be terrible - Exhibit A: Harrison Ford is in it - but I am willing to be convinced otherwise.
   8. Publius Publicola Posted: April 09, 2013 at 06:08 PM (#4408812)
Exhibit A: Harrison Ford is in it


yeah, I never liked him either. He wants to be Gary Cooper but he doesn't have half the acting ability Cooper did.

Plus, he's the wrong guy for the part. It should have been someone who is talented at flowery rhetoric, as Rickey was known to be fond of.
   9. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: April 09, 2013 at 06:23 PM (#4408824)
Plus, he's the wrong guy for the part. It should have been someone who is talented at flowery rhetoric, as Rickey was known to be fond of.

Sidney Greenstreet would listen if the producers called. Long distance, of course.
   10. Dale Sams Posted: April 09, 2013 at 07:13 PM (#4408852)
Exhibit A: Harrison Ford is in it


The Fugitive was great. Also a billion years ago, but great.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: April 09, 2013 at 07:14 PM (#4408853)
Re #3. I get where you're coming from. It's doubly difficult since this is a true story and we know how it ends. The real-life Robinson was under all sorts of pressure of course and capturing that in a movie would be excellent. But that tension/drama is hard to create now because this all happened 65 years ago. It was going to be tough to pull off this move from Robinson's viewpoint without it just being a well-meaning but clunky reminder that racism is bad and Jackie was awesome. (Maybe what we needed was the alternate reality like the Last Temptation of Christ.)

On the other hand ... while I get your point that in many ways the interesting story, at least at this remove from history, is in the choices the white folks had to make, that runs the danger of turning this into yet another movie about an heroic minority that ends up being about the "bravery" of the non-minorities in the story. "In the Heat of the Night" pulled this off without unintentionally undermining the black character but that's about it ... and that was 45 years ago and it had the advantage of being fictional.

The Jackie Robinson story could be quite dull as a film but "the heroic white folks who gave Jackie Robinson the chance to play and advised him to ignore the slurs as much as possible" sounds much worse. I know that's not what you had in mind but that's how a big Hollywood production of that story is going to end up. Rickey had the guts to buck convention to improve his team and make money. Reese had the humanity to accept Robinson. Neither of those is trivial, but Robinson is the hero of this story.

From an artistic tension standpoint, this story from the viewpoint of, say, Larry Doby could be interesting. Or a movie about maybe Dick Allen who wasn't gonna keep quiet but who also might have let his anger get away from him too often. Or one about players who spent a long time in the Negro League then shifted to MLB after their prime and never got to display their true skill at the highest level. Or about the Negro League trying to survive after integration (that's an interesting moral dilemma and potentially socially relevant).
   12. OsunaSakata Posted: April 09, 2013 at 07:19 PM (#4408856)
The real drama, I think, is the dilemma the white players, mamagers and coaches found themselves in. They could either go along with the crowd and not be supportive, or they could be supportive and risk ostracism too. They were being forced to choose what side of history they were going to be on. that's a more interesting story, IMO.


I would have no problem with that story being told, but you run into the same criticism as Mississippi Burning and The Help. Telling what's ostensibly a story about black people from the viewpoint of white people, can give the simplistic impression that black people were helpless in the fight for civil rights without involvement from white people.
   13. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 09, 2013 at 07:19 PM (#4408857)
Despite the film’s sleek feel, the basic life story with its tribulations and triumphs remain intact. It’s inspiring, especially as depicted by Boseman who has the swagger of a young Denzel Washington.

Yeah, because there's nothing more indispensible to portraying Jackie Robinson, and his life and times, than ####### swagger.
   14. Jay Z Posted: April 09, 2013 at 07:30 PM (#4408865)
I would have no problem with that story being told, but you run into the same criticism as Mississippi Burning and The Help. Telling what's ostensibly a story about black people from the viewpoint of white people, can give the simplistic impression that black people were helpless in the fight for civil rights without involvement from white people.


I agree. It's Robinson's story. Robinson is essentially a Jesus figure. Society is screwed up, so even though you're in the right, you have to go through this crap to help change things. Perfectly valid framework.
   15. villageidiom Posted: April 09, 2013 at 07:42 PM (#4408875)
I had high hopes for this film, but in a trailer someone remarked to Robinson, "Maybe some day we'll all wear 42," and I lost all hope.
   16. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: April 09, 2013 at 07:43 PM (#4408878)
I wouldn't usually put references to slinging coke into a movie about a civil rights hero, but thats just me.


I would, but it would probably be something by Cab Calloway.
   17. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: April 09, 2013 at 07:46 PM (#4408882)
My favorite part is when Jackie Robinson volunteers William Bendix for a dangerous surgery than just might save millions of lives.
   18. Blastin Posted: April 09, 2013 at 07:48 PM (#4408886)
I'm going on Friday. I really hope it's good. As a black baseball fan who grew up (half of the time) in BK, there's pretty much no player I love more than Jackie.

Boseman looks up to the task, but we'll see how the script goes. Helgeland did write LA Confidential and won an Oscar for it. He also wrote the script for Mystic River... and the remake of Pelham 1-2-3. Eesh.
   19. BDC Posted: April 09, 2013 at 08:39 PM (#4408976)
I hope to see it soon. I've asked before, but: does Ruby Dee have a cameo in the film? If not, that would be a shame.
   20. Publius Publicola Posted: April 09, 2013 at 09:10 PM (#4409067)
I would have no problem with that story being told, but you run into the same criticism as Mississippi Burning and The Help.


I agree with this too. There were no blacks of any import in Mississippi Burning, even though there should have been. But this could end up like Redtails, which was a really boring and uninspired film.

I think a more interesting film would be about someone like Allen (mentioned above), who was flawed in ways Robinson wasn't. That has all kinds of dramatic possibilities. Allen might have been bipolar, and his struggle to deal with that and racism at the same time would be an interesting story. Robinson is tough because, in general, the protagonist usually has some flaw, a series of dramatic incidents forces him to face his flaws, and he comes out at the end victorious or defeated or somewhere in between. You don't get that with Robinson. He doesn't have any character flaws that make him dramatically interesting like, say, Jack Johnson.
   21. Matt Welch Posted: April 09, 2013 at 09:13 PM (#4409076)
A version of "Maybe some day we'll all wear 42" was actually in the 1964 Jackie Robinson book I'm reading right now, Baseball Has Done It. It was in reference to death threats in Crosley Field, which the FBI took seriously but Robinson's teammates ribbed him for. He shot back something like "Yeah, well, you'll have to put on some shoe polish."

It's a great book, BTW.
   22. Blastin Posted: April 09, 2013 at 09:13 PM (#4409079)
Jack Johnson was awesome.
   23. AROM Posted: April 09, 2013 at 09:41 PM (#4409168)
"Exhibit A: Harrison Ford is in it"

Branch Rickey shot Greedo first. He's OK by me.
   24. Rob_Wood Posted: April 09, 2013 at 09:53 PM (#4409196)
To echo a point made above, a powerful scene could be made of Pee Wee Reese coming home on a ship from WWII and hearing that the Dodgers had signed a black shortstop. Shipmates razzed Reese, a southerner, about losing his job to a black. Pee Wee stewed about it for days and finally came to the realization that WWII was largely fought to give liberty and opportunities to all. And if Robinson was a better ball player than him, then Jackie deserved his spot. Contrast Reese with guys like Chapman. (I remember Pee Wee telling the story at a SABR convention; he told it not to give himself credit, but to paint a fuller picture of the times.)

Of course, the story is Jackie Robinson's, but it is about post-war America too.
   25. McCoy Posted: April 09, 2013 at 09:57 PM (#4409209)
Blew a perfectly good joke.

"It is better to shoot a bounty hunter a moment too early rather than a moment too late" Han Rickey.
   26. Bruce Markusen Posted: April 09, 2013 at 10:34 PM (#4409278)
Robinson faced a real dilemma when he received a written death threat before a visit to Crosley Field. The note basically said, "If you play in Cincinnati, then you will be killed." As far as I know, Robinson went ahead and played the games at Crosley Field. It would have been very easy for him to sit out, out of fear for his physical safety, but if he didn't play, he risked being called a coward.
   27. Bob Tufts Posted: April 09, 2013 at 10:39 PM (#4409289)
I would prefer a movie about 1950's McClymonds High School and Bill Russell, Frank Robinson and Curt Flood and how they became the leaders and great players that they were (no slight to fellow alum Vada Pinson - or MC Hammer - is intended).

The caustic rap lyrics , the posing at home plate......uggh! No thanks!
   28. Walt Davis Posted: April 09, 2013 at 10:56 PM (#4409321)
Robinson faced a real dilemma when he received a written death threat before a visit to Crosley Field.

Robinson faced tons of them, although as noted not necessarily "moral" dilemmas. (That's a "courage" dilemma I suppose ... which can be perfectly dramatic obviously.) But we know he played, we know he wasn't killed ... so the dramatic tension isn't there.

One can say the same about any biographic film of course. But most biographic films are pretty boring hagiographies. The challenge is finding something in the story that hasn't been told or to provide some deeper insight into what went on (which maybe the film does, I haven't seen it).

Still, at least it's not Tarantino -- Jackie would be sending foul line drives through the foreheads of racist fans.
   29. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: April 09, 2013 at 11:07 PM (#4409337)
Still, at least it's not Tarantino -- Jackie would be sending foul line drives through the foreheads of racist fans.

while quoting the Bible


I don't know how much of Jackie's career this film is going to document, but I suspect that it will ignore the fact that, after going through two Ghandi years (47-48), Jackie proceeded to become one of the most notorious redasses in MLB. As Durocher said "he doesn't just come to win, he comes to shove the bat up your ass"

Robinson V2 was VERY different from the first two years
   30. Morty Causa Posted: April 09, 2013 at 11:09 PM (#4409343)
And was resented by not just a few Black players at the time.
   31. Morty Causa Posted: April 09, 2013 at 11:14 PM (#4409352)
Still, at least it's not Tarantino -- Jackie would be sending foul line drives through the foreheads of racist fans.


Jackie R, Vampire-Umpire Killa.
   32. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: April 10, 2013 at 01:13 AM (#4409440)
Blew a perfectly good joke.

I knew you were coming out in the OTP thread!
   33. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: April 10, 2013 at 01:14 AM (#4409444)
I don't know how much of Jackie's career this film is going to document, but I suspect that it will ignore the fact that, after going through two Ghandi years (47-48), Jackie proceeded to become one of the most notorious redasses in MLB. As Durocher said "he doesn't just come to win, he comes to shove the bat up your ass"

Robinson V2 was VERY different from the first two years

Yes. There's some great footage out there of a Yanks-Dodgers WS where Robinson is on third and basically taunting the pitcher on every pitch - both faking dashes home, and yelling at the guy that he might do it. It's amazing; I've never seen another player do stuff like that.
   34. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: April 10, 2013 at 01:21 AM (#4409461)
I don't know how much of Jackie's career this film is going to document, but I suspect that it will ignore the fact that, after going through two Ghandi years (47-48), Jackie proceeded to become one of the most notorious redasses in MLB. As Durocher said "he doesn't just come to win, he comes to shove the bat up your ass"

Robinson V2 was VERY different from the first two years


Can you elaborate? I'm only vaguely familiar with this often glossed over subject.
   35. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: April 10, 2013 at 02:46 AM (#4409488)
Robinson V2, after Rickey and Leo Durocher basically cut him loose from his "guts enough not to fight" agreement, would gleefully go into second and third spikes high, and would target the guys who were so cruel to him his first two seasons. He also didn't seem to have a problem laying out anyone that tried to take him out at second base by throwing his knee into their face.

My favorite story about Robinson's later years: The home and visitor locker rooms at Ebbetts Field were separated by a pretty thin wall, and the shouting matches between locker rooms could get pretty vile, especially when the Giants came to town. Apparently, the Dodgers would often scream racial epithets at Monte Irvin and Willie Mays through the wall, with Robinson right there, nodding in total agreement. Robinson sure hated the Giants.
   36. Russ Posted: April 10, 2013 at 06:29 AM (#4409499)
Yes. There's some great footage out there of a Yanks-Dodgers WS where Robinson is on third and basically taunting the pitcher on every pitch - both faking dashes home, and yelling at the guy that he might do it. It's amazing; I've never seen another player do stuff like that.


I wish more players were like this today... the game sometimes doesn't even feel like a competition when you're watching. I understand that the season is 162 games long, it's only April, etc., but at least pretend like you care if you win or lose. That was one of my favorite things about one of my all-time favorite players - Jason Kendall. Every game that Jason Kendall lost seemed like the end of the world...and in Pittsburgh, he lost a lot of games. You never felt like Kendall found any loss acceptable or without meaning.
   37. Greg K Posted: April 10, 2013 at 07:32 AM (#4409504)
One can say the same about any biographic film of course. But most biographic films are pretty boring hagiographies.

I'm not much of a fan of bio-pics for this reason, and because they tend to box in the script. They often come out, not so much as stories, but as exercises in box-ticking.

But I did just see Raging Bull for the first time yesterday, so I have to admit it is possible to make a great bio film. Though I stand by my unpopular, and doubtlessly incorrect, opinion that Ordinary People deserved the Oscar.
   38. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 10, 2013 at 07:47 AM (#4409512)
The real drama, I think, is the dilemma the white players, mamagers and coaches found themselves in. They could either go along with the crowd and not be supportive, or they could be supportive and risk ostracism too. They were being forced to choose what side of history they were going to be on. that's a more interesting story, IMO.


I would have no problem with that story being told, but you run into the same criticism as Mississippi Burning and The Help. Telling what's ostensibly a story about black people from the viewpoint of white people, can give the simplistic impression that black people were helpless in the fight for civil rights without involvement from white people.

I'll wait to see 42 before commenting on it, but even at its worst it couldn't possibly be as bad as Mississippi Burning. It's almost as if Hollywood staged a contest to see who could produce the most irrelevant take on the entire civil rights movement.

-------------------------------------

Robinson V2 was VERY different from the first two years


Yes. There's some great footage out there of a Yanks-Dodgers WS where Robinson is on third and basically taunting the pitcher on every pitch - both faking dashes home, and yelling at the guy that he might do it. It's amazing; I've never seen another player do stuff like that.

I haven't seen the footage you're talking about, but I hope it's from game 3 of the 1955 World Series. Bob Turley was in his double pump windup stage, and had lost a game earlier in the year on a walkoff steal of home. Robinson ran what seemed like halfway down the third base line during each pitch, screaming so loudly you could hear it on TV just as clearly as one of Monica Seles' grunts, even with the older sound technology. Turley got completely unnerved and was out of the game soon thereafter, and the Dodgers began their comeback to win their first World Series.

Oh, and later in that game Robinson faked LF Elston Howard out of his jock strap when he rounded second on a routine single to left, and deked Howard into throwing behind him while easily advancing to third on the play. Ty Cobb would have been beaming his approval.
   39. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 10, 2013 at 07:48 AM (#4409514)
As much as I love Jackie Robinson, I really feel like that era of integration has so many other stories to tell that get completely ignore. The one I've toyed around with writing myself is the story of John Brittain and Jimmie Newberry being sold by the St. Louis Browns to the Hankyu Braves in Japan. They were the first black players to play professionally in Japan and this is post-war reconstruction Japan at that. Then you have guys like Marvin Williams who were certainly good enough to play in MLB but kind of fell through the cracks as the Negro League fell apart and baseball was still reluctant to have too many black ballplayers. You could probably make a movie of Willard Brown's experience playing for the St. Louis Browns and, of course, all the players left behind trying to keep the Negro Leagues going. Also, Johnny Wright--a Negro Leaguer who was on Montreal with Jackie Robinson but washed out--could be an interesting story to tell. Jackie is great and important but 1. We know his story by heart and 2. He was a great success. For me, the failures are more interesting.

As an aside, let me brag that I have Japanese baseball cards of John Brittain and Jimmie Newberry. They aren't worth much, but I love having those cards.
   40. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: April 10, 2013 at 08:25 AM (#4409532)
I wish more players were like this today... the game sometimes doesn't even feel like a competition when you're watching.

There's just too much money involved today. Being a redass leads to injuries, which leads to multi-million-dollar investments going up in smoke. And it is a long season. Stay cool, do your job, make the money.
   41. Publius Publicola Posted: April 10, 2013 at 08:39 AM (#4409538)
Still, at least it's not Tarantino -- Jackie would be sending foul line drives through the foreheads of racist fans.


And Roy Campanella would be dropping N's everywhere.
   42. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 08:48 AM (#4409543)


From an artistic tension standpoint, this story from the viewpoint of, say, Larry Doby could be interesting. Or a movie about maybe Dick Allen who wasn't gonna keep quiet but who also might have let his anger get away from him too often. Or one about players who spent a long time in the Negro League then shifted to MLB after their prime and never got to display their true skill at the highest level. Or about the Negro League trying to survive after integration (that's an interesting moral dilemma and potentially socially relevant).


"Soul of the Game" was an HBO movie that had the interesting perspective of showing the guys that got passed over for Jackie. It portrayed Josh Gibson and why he was passed over for being the first African-American in MLB due to his drinking problem and perceived anger issues.
   43. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 08:58 AM (#4409550)
Jack Johnson was awesome.


Troll me not!
   44. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 10, 2013 at 09:00 AM (#4409551)
"Soul of the Game" was an HBO movie that had the interesting perspective of showing the guys that got passed over for Jackie. It portrayed Josh Gibson and why he was passed over for being the first African-American in MLB due to his drinking problem and perceived anger issues.

Gibson was into a lot more than alcohol. There's no way he could have been the one to break the barrier, sadly. Satchel Paige would have been a natural, though. He was already a superstar and had been performing in front of white audiences for 20 years. I doubt he would have experienced any heckling and taunting he hadn't dealt with a thousand times before. It was good news for the Indians the Dodgers passed in him as I don't think they win the 1948 pennant without Satch.
   45. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: April 10, 2013 at 09:04 AM (#4409554)
We know his story by heart


This is the single biggest reason I'm glad this movie is being made. While we here know his story I'm afraid it will get lost a bit over time. It's not going to be perfect but I expect it to be very good and if it gets a new generation of kids to decide to do their next book report on "Baseball's Great Experiment" or to simply Wikipedia Jackie Robinson, that's a good thing.
   46. Canker Soriano Posted: April 10, 2013 at 09:17 AM (#4409563)
One can say the same about any biographic film of course. But most biographic films are pretty boring hagiographies.

Especially for someone like Robinson - if you dirty/gritty it up, you run the risk of backlash from the community of people who hold him up as a saint for being the first black player. But if you make it some kind of saccharine love song to what an awesome cheek-turner he was, then it's just drivel. There's a tough balance in there, and I doubt they've found it here.

I can't imagine ever wanting to watch this. Maybe on HBO in a couple of years, if there's nothing better on.

(There's also acknowledging that, with a few exceptions, most baseball movies are... let's say not great.)
   47. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 10, 2013 at 09:48 AM (#4409589)
Especially for someone like Robinson - if you dirty/gritty it up, you run the risk of backlash from the community of people who hold him up as a saint for being the first black player. But if you make it some kind of saccharine love song to what an awesome cheek-turner he was, then it's just drivel. There's a tough balance in there, and I doubt they've found it here.

I can't imagine ever wanting to watch this. Maybe on HBO in a couple of years, if there's nothing better on.


I'm going to watch it, for the simple reason that it's about the most important player in modern baseball history. Of course a story like that can be easily screwed up, but I want to see for myself.

(There's also acknowledging that, with a few exceptions, most baseball movies are... let's say not great.)

That's the understatement of the year. It's amazing how many first rate boxing movies there are, and how few baseball movies transcend the Billy Crystal outlook. When you see reviews that start gushing "You'll love this movie even if you're not a baseball fan", that's a pretty good warning that it's going to be little more than dreck.
   48. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 09:55 AM (#4409593)
At least baseball has Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, Major League, The Natural, the Sandlot, Bad News Bears...there's some good ones. Name a good football movie.
   49. depletion Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:00 AM (#4409596)
Apparently, the Dodgers would often scream racial epithets at Monte Irvin and Willie Mays through the wall, with Robinson right there, nodding in total agreement. Robinson sure hated the Giants.

I have read somewhere that it was the other way around as well. Durocher screaming racial obscenities through the wall at Robinson while Monte Irvin was sitting there ("Skip, does that apply to me as well?"). Does the movie cover Robinson's decision to retire rather than play for the Giants? I have not read much about that.
   50. Morty Causa Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:04 AM (#4409598)
Durocher tells a great story about that in his memoirs. Involves Monte Irvin, too.
   51. Canker Soriano Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:07 AM (#4409601)
Name a good football movie.

The original version of The Longest Yard is really the only one that comes to mind. Football has fared better on TV (Friday Night Lights, and even Coach had its moments in the way of gentle comedy from the 1980s-1990s).
   52. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:09 AM (#4409604)
And of course basketball has "The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh."
   53. Morty Causa Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:15 AM (#4409608)
Name a good football movie.


Horsefeathers. Or the Three Stooges short that recapitulated the same thing.
   54. SoSH U at work Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:16 AM (#4409609)


This is the single biggest reason I'm glad this movie is being made. While we here know his story I'm afraid it will get lost a bit over time. It's not going to be perfect but I expect it to be very good and if it gets a new generation of kids to decide to do their next book report on "Baseball's Great Experiment" or to simply Wikipedia Jackie Robinson, that's a good thing.


Yeah, my 10-year-old saw the first commercial was very excited to see it. So, for the first time in about three years, I'm going to the movies. And for perhaps the first time ever, I'm going to a movie on the night it opens.
   55. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:18 AM (#4409610)
At least baseball has Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, Major League, The Natural, the Sandlot, Bad News Bears...there's some good ones. Name a good football movie.

You've named a mixed bag of movies that with the partial exception of Bull Durham, have little or nothing to do with the real world of baseball. Eight Men Out and Cobb are about the only exceptions I can think of that are based on real subjects and don't degenerate into hagiographic farce. (EDIT: Hopefully "42" will prove to be an honorable exception, but I'll have to get back to you on that one when I've actually seen it.)

As for a good football movie, I can't think of any I'd want to watch again. But using the sort of standards you've implied in your list above, I'd say that Rudy or North Dallas Forty are as good or better than any of the films on your list. And there are probably at least a dozen boxing or wrestling movies (mostly boxing) that are better than any baseball movie ever made.

   56. Morty Causa Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:23 AM (#4409616)
At least baseball has Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, Major League, The Natural, the Sandlot, Bad News Bears...there's some good ones.


Don't forget Joe E. Brown:

Trailer for Elmer the Great. Entire movie is listed on the roster to the right.

Couldn't find Alibi Ike, which is even better.
   57. Random Transaction Generator Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:24 AM (#4409617)
I can't imagine ever wanting to watch this. Maybe on HBO in a couple of years, if there's nothing better on.


I felt the same way when I heard they were making a movie about Facebook. I was dragged to it as part of a family outing, and to my surprise, "The Social Network" was fantastic.

Yeah, my 10-year-old saw the first commercial was very excited to see it. So, for the first time in about three years, I'm going to the movies. And for perhaps the first time ever, I'm going to a movie on the night it opens.


My wife, who has no interest in baseball at all, saw the commercial and said she wanted to see "42". She doesn't know anything about the history of baseball integration, so this will be a bit of a lesson for her.
She understands the history of integration in the US, but being a Canadian from a homogeneous region of Ontario, she'd never heard of Jackie Robinson (or his story).
   58. SoSH U at work Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:26 AM (#4409619)
You've named a mixed bag of movies that with the partial exception of Bull Durham, have little or nothing to do with the real world of baseball.


Bad News Bears features the closest thing to a real manager, the drunken, immoral Buttermaker, and a real ballplayer, the foul-mouthed, itching-for-a-fight Tanner, than anything put on film. They're certainly more genuine than the many tough-talking guys with a heart of gold characters you find in the rest of baseball movies. And, in the end, they lose to the ####### Yankees, which, sadly, is as real as it gets.

You can take your other baseball movies, and their heartwarming endings, and ...
   59. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:33 AM (#4409626)
The worst play I ever saw was written by some old Brooklyn communist trying to work through his issues with Robinson supporting Nixon. It started with pee wee reese sleeping with a magical black prostitute as a way to work through his intense attraction to Robinson and went down hill from there. Eventually, the magical prostitute affected some kind of time travel where Robinson became a communist, and managed the dodgers who became a "community owned" team to 10 straight championships.

At one point, a guy in the audience started loudly correcting things, "Koufax only won 5 games that year" "That happened in 1962", etc. He was great.

This was in a pretty nice theatre too, for a group that that did good education work but used that as a cover for crazy, self indulgent plays.
   60. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:36 AM (#4409633)
Bad News Bears features the closest thing to a real manager, the drunken, immoral Buttermaker, and a real ballplayer, the foul-mouthed, itching-for-a-fight Tanner, than anything put on film. They're certainly more genuine than the many tough-talking guys with a heart of gold characters you find in the rest of baseball movies. And, in the end, they lose to the ####### Yankees, which, sadly, is as real as it gets.

Yeah, that's exactly what Little League baseball is all about. It happens every Spring.

You can take your other baseball movies, and their heartwarming endings, and ...

Totally agree with you there.
   61. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:36 AM (#4409635)
Oh my god! It's being revived! You New Yorkers can go revel in it!
   62. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:38 AM (#4409636)
The worst play I ever saw was written by some old Brooklyn communist trying to work through his issues with Robinson supporting Nixon. It started with pee wee reese sleeping with a magical black prostitute as a way to work through his intense attraction to Robinson and went down hill from there. Eventually, the magical prostitute affected some kind of time travel where Robinson became a communist, and managed the dodgers who became a "community owned" team to 10 straight championships.

Sounds to me like one of those Max Bialystock specials, complete with "Springtime For Stalin".
   63. Morty Causa Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:38 AM (#4409637)
58:

Yeah, TBNB is underrated. It's a good movie and a good baseball movie--at least that's how I remember it. I haven't seen it in along time.
   64. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:48 AM (#4409653)
There was a Jackie Robinson musical called The First, which appeared on Broadway back in 1981, with David Alan Grier as Jackie. It was a complete flop.
   65. zack Posted: April 10, 2013 at 11:51 AM (#4409746)
Does he run in that weird way Robinson did? Is it better than The Jackie Robinson Story (so weird)?
   66. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 10, 2013 at 11:56 AM (#4409756)
   67. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:04 PM (#4409768)
A version of "Maybe some day we'll all wear 42" was actually in the 1964 Jackie Robinson book I'm reading right now, Baseball Has Done It. It was in reference to death threats in Crosley Field, which the FBI took seriously but Robinson's teammates ribbed him for. He shot back something like "Yeah, well, you'll have to put on some shoe polish."

It's a great book, BTW.


Seconded. Here's another quote from that book (p. 52) where Robinson addresses a topic that's been repeated discussed here, where he puts the use of the word ###### in proper perspective.

Oddly enough, some fair-minded whites are more sensitive to certain chauvinistic expressions than we are. A white playwright recently read me his latest work. In the dialogue the word nigger appeared in the mouths of several anti-Negro characters. Later, while we were discussing his play he used the word nigger, turned scarlet and stammered an apology.

I told him that I knew he was without prejudice, that his play was intended to help the Negro cause, that nigger appeared in it quite correctly, and that I was not in the least offended by his inadvertent repetition of the word. The words that offend us, I said, are those which are used with intent to disparage.

Nigger is offensive only when employed in a derogatory sense. The dictionary notes that it is "sometimes used as an expression of contempt." Some Negroes use it as a friendly form of address, quite as anyone might say, "How are you, you old son of a bitch?"
   68. Perry Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:12 PM (#4409777)
Name a good football movie.


North Dallas Forty is the only one I can think of.

Really good baseball movies I haven't seen mentioned in this thread are Long Gone (made for HBO and not even available on DVD as far as I know) and Sugar. I also liked 61*, it's not great but it's sure better than I ever expected.
   69. villageidiom Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:27 PM (#4409807)
the foul-mouthed, itching-for-a-fight Tanner
I would welcome it if "Tanner" became Dustin Pedroia's new nickname.

They're probably the same height, too.
   70. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:31 PM (#4409814)
North Dallas Forty is the only one I can think of.


I thought "The Program" was a pretty good movie.

A lot of people like "All The Right Moves", but it's a challenge for me to watch anything with Tom Cruise in it.
   71. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:33 PM (#4409815)
Really good baseball movies I haven't seen mentioned in this thread are Long Gone (made for HBO and not even available on DVD as far as I know) and Sugar.

You beat me to it. I was going to bring up Sugar myself (unless someone mentioned it already, in which I just missed that mention).
   72. Rusty Priske Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:35 PM (#4409818)
Sugar was great.
   73. Chipper Jonestown Massacre Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:48 PM (#4409835)
At one point, a guy in the audience started loudly correcting things, "Koufax only won 5 games that year" "That happened in 1962", etc. He was great.


So, Olbermann was in the audience?
   74. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:51 PM (#4409844)
It started with pee wee reese sleeping with a magical black prostitute as a way to work through his intense attraction to Robinson and went down hill from there.


<Blank stare>
   75. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:59 PM (#4409852)
It started with pee wee reese sleeping with a magical black prostitute as a way to work through his intense attraction to Robinson and went down hill from there.

To paraphrase the Goering chapter of the NRA, every time I hear the word "magical" in the context of describing a baseball film, I feel like reaching for my magical assault rifle.
   76. Long Time Listener, First Time Caller Posted: April 10, 2013 at 01:03 PM (#4409856)
Yeah, because there's nothing more indispensible to portraying Jackie Robinson, and his life and times, than ####### swagger.


So wait, you're saying that swagger wasn't an essential part of who Robinson was as a baseball player or a person? Could have fooled me, since every single historical account of Robinson after the "don't play baseball like yourself" exhortation from Rickey was lifted makes great pains to say that after that period he played with extreme "swagger" and pugnaciousness
   77. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 10, 2013 at 01:21 PM (#4409884)
Yeah, because there's nothing more indispensible to portraying Jackie Robinson, and his life and times, than ####### swagger.


So wait, you're saying that swagger wasn't an essential part of who Robinson was as a baseball player or a person? Could have fooled me, since every single historical account of Robinson after the "don't play baseball like yourself" exhortation from Rickey was lifted makes great pains to say that after that period he played with extreme "swagger" and pugnaciousness

Two points in response to that.

1. The film deals with 1947, when Robinson was under wraps. Whatever "swagger" he had then was expressed strictly in private.

2. There's a world of difference between Robinson's off-the-field outspokenness and on-the-field aggressiveness after 1948 (when the wraps were off), and the sort of "swagger" that's associated with modern-day sports. It's entirely possible that Robinson would have defended our current "swagger" as a form of self-expression, but it's just as likely that he would have denounced much of it as "bush". The one thing constant about Jackie Robinson after 1948 is that he never pulled any punches in any direction.
   78. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 10, 2013 at 01:33 PM (#4409900)
Name a good football movie.

Heaven Can Wait and North Dallas Forty.

I liked Any Given Sundsy, too.
   79. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 10, 2013 at 01:40 PM (#4409910)
Oddly enough, some fair-minded whites are more sensitive to certain chauvinistic expressions than we are.

Primey.

Jackie wins the thread.
   80. spycake Posted: April 10, 2013 at 01:47 PM (#4409920)
The one I've toyed around with writing myself is the story of John Brittain

Does his origin story involve Jeff Loria?
   81. spycake Posted: April 10, 2013 at 02:05 PM (#4409948)
(Can't seem to edit, but John Brattain reference. Still miss that guy.)
   82. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 10, 2013 at 04:14 PM (#4410092)
Oddly enough, some fair-minded whites are more sensitive to certain chauvinistic expressions than we are.


Primey.

Jackie wins the thread.


Jackie wins the thread for the entire quote, not just that one sentence.
   83. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 04:18 PM (#4410099)
Name a good football movie.


The Damned United

[ducks]
   84. Publius Publicola Posted: April 10, 2013 at 04:35 PM (#4410109)
I know it was a made-for-TV movie and it was kind of sappy but Brian's Song was pretty good, or at least a lot of people liked it and it made stars out of Caan and Williams.
   85. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 10, 2013 at 04:40 PM (#4410117)
Name a good football movie.


The Damned United

[ducks]


That's not football, that's soccer. (Hey, is there room under that chair?)
   86. Walt Davis Posted: April 10, 2013 at 05:38 PM (#4410154)
But I did just see Raging Bull for the first time yesterday, so I have to admit it is possible to make a great bio film.

It helps that LaMotta was pretty much unknown to the general public. And that he wasn't considered a saint or evil.

Bonnie & Clyde is also a good bio pic on a much tougher subject than LaMotta.

I would think US kids would know the generic Robinson story thanks to black history month. Or is that generally being ignored these days?

I don't mean to be overly negative -- you can make a perfectly good, fairly standard Hollywood "triumph over adversity" movie which, with good acting and writing, is a cut above. I just have a hard time imagining you can make a movie I would like to see or has much of anything interesting to say "artistically."

Somebody mentioned the social network and we can add moneyball and there's that charlie kaufman film (Adaptation?) all of which seemed like impossible stories to tell well in a movie. And while I don't think any of those are great or even very good movies, they were a perfectly decent way to spend a couple of hours and somewhat miraculous that they could achieve that. As long as an animated Bill James doesn't show up in 42, it's got a decent shot to be that level of movie.
   87. Morty Causa Posted: April 10, 2013 at 05:43 PM (#4410156)
Bonnie & Clyde is also a good bio pic on a much tougher subject than LaMotta.


That's really expanding it, though. Why not a Custer picture, or an Earp/Holiday one?

The Miracle Worker is a damn fine biopic then. Patton, too. Any of a number of films about Lincoln, including Lincoln.

   88. Long Time Listener, First Time Caller Posted: April 10, 2013 at 07:02 PM (#4410199)

Two points in response to that.

1. The film deals with 1947, when Robinson was under wraps. Whatever "swagger" he had then was expressed strictly in private.

2. There's a world of difference between Robinson's off-the-field outspokenness and on-the-field aggressiveness after 1948 (when the wraps were off), and the sort of "swagger" that's associated with modern-day sports. It's entirely possible that Robinson would have defended our current "swagger" as a form of self-expression, but it's just as likely that he would have denounced much of it as "bush". The one thing constant about Jackie Robinson after 1948 is that he never pulled any punches in any direction.


Point taken re: 1947 v 1948. However, I think you're seeing "swagger" in quite a bit more negative of a light than the author meant it. Who knows though. Even in the hip-hop community swagger does not necessarily strictly mean gauche and braggadocious (for instance, Alan Iverson) but can refer to a quietly confidence and fierce competitor like, eg, Kobe Bryant.

Point is moot though, as we are indeed talking about 1947 when Robinson had his head down per Rickey's request
   89. Greg K Posted: April 10, 2013 at 07:25 PM (#4410215)

I liked Any Given Sundsy, too.

Oliver Stone spoke at my university once, and it seemed to pain him to admit that movie existed. He refused to use it's name and referred to a couple times as "the football movie".
   90. Greg K Posted: April 10, 2013 at 07:28 PM (#4410216)
Name a good football movie.

The Damned United

I've always thought Fever Pitch (the football one) was a good movie.
   91. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 10, 2013 at 08:55 PM (#4410278)
Point taken re: 1947 v 1948. However, I think you're seeing "swagger" in quite a bit more negative of a light than the author meant it. Who knows though. Even in the hip-hop community swagger does not necessarily strictly mean gauche and braggadocious (for instance, Alan Iverson) but can refer to a quietly confidence and fierce competitor like, eg, Kobe Bryant.

I hope you're right about how Robinson's "swagger" is portrayed, and I guess we'll find out soon enough.

-------------------------------------------------------

I liked Any Given Sunday, too.


Oliver Stone spoke at my university once, and it seemed to pain him to admit that movie existed. He refused to use it's name and referred to a couple times as "the football movie".

I guess it's lucky that the movie wasn't about the Redskins, because then he really would've been tongue-tied....

"Er, ah, you mean....the football movie about the, um, whatsit called....oh, yes, the Washington professional football franchise..."

-------------------------------------------------------

The Miracle Worker is a damn fine biopic then.

But not nearly as good as The Miracle Woman, which has the added benefit of being directed by your pet director.
   92. Alex Vila Posted: April 10, 2013 at 09:03 PM (#4410291)
We all miss John Brattain.
   93. Gonfalon B. Posted: April 10, 2013 at 09:52 PM (#4410339)
Trivia question: What is the top-grossing football film in movie history?
   94. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:07 PM (#4410356)
American football?

I guess ... The Blind Side!
   95. Morty Causa Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:32 PM (#4410370)
But not nearly as good as The Miracle Woman, which has the added benefit of being directed by your pet director.

That's the thing. When you include fictionalized biography as a biopic, why not loose roman a clefs, why not movies that just use biography as an inspiration? Why not include The Miracle Woman, the original Scarface, The Left Handed Gun, They Died With Their Boots On, All the King's Men, Braveheart, Amadeus, My Darling Clementine, Gunfight at the OK Corral, The Elephant Man, A Beautiful Mind, Henry V as a biopic?

I think the standards for a real biopic have to be stricter than that. Categorization serves a purpose. For that to work you need standards and borders. It's not just biopics. It's other genres, such as screwball comedy and film noir, too. Every murder suspense story has been reclassified Film Noir. That's not helpful.
   96. Kurt Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:35 PM (#4410375)
Yeah, TBNB is underrated. It's a good movie and a good baseball movie--at least that's how I remember it. I haven't seen it in along time.

It holds up fantastically well.
   97. Gonfalon B. Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:37 PM (#4410379)
Aw, nuts. "The Blind Side" is now the answer, having pulled in more money than the previous (and much more pleasingly ghastly) answer... "The Waterboy."
   98. Morty Causa Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:46 PM (#4410385)
Anyone ever see 1969'sNumber One with Charlton Heston? I remember it as a good flick about a football player has-been. (I do have the sneaking memory that one waggish reviewer said Number One was number two, however.) Heston is not believable in the athletic department as I remember (he was always fit, but not particularly athletic--two things actors always want to do themselves: sing and do the stunts particular to a sport themselves, even if they can't do either), but the story is unusually adult--although I suspect quite dated now as to mores and dialogue.
   99. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:52 PM (#4410388)
Aw, nuts. "The Blind Side" is now the answer, having pulled in more money than the previous (and much more pleasingly ghastly) answer... "The Waterboy."


HaHa!

/Nelson Muntz

That's what happens when you try to find a stranger in the alps, Gonfalon ...
   100. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 10, 2013 at 11:39 PM (#4410409)
But not nearly as good as The Miracle Woman, which has the added benefit of being directed by your pet director.

That's the thing. When you include fictionalized biography as a biopic, why not loose roman a clefs, why not movies that just use biography as an inspiration? Why not include The Miracle Woman, the original Scarface, The Left Handed Gun, They Died With Their Boots On, All the King's Men, Braveheart, Amadeus, My Darling Clementine, Gunfight at the OK Corral, The Elephant Man, A Beautiful Mind, Henry V as a biopic?

I think the standards for a real biopic have to be stricter than that. Categorization serves a purpose. For that to work you need standards and borders.


Well, The Miracle Woman was "based on" the real life Aimee Semple McPherson, and Bonnie and Clyde was "based on" the real life Bonnie and Clyde. But any connection to historical truth beyond that is somewhat coincidental, since entire scenes and subplots were invented and / or deliberately fictionalized in both cases.

Not that I disagree with the point you're trying to make, it's just that if the category of "biopics" can include movies that play fast and loose with the historical truth (Bonnie and Clyde, The Pride of the Yankees, and pretty much every other baseball biopic for that matter), then the distinction between "biopic" and "fictionalized biography" isn't quite as clear as you're making it to be, even if the first category serves up more pretenses.

It's not just biopics. It's other genres, such as screwball comedy and film noir, too. Every murder suspense story has been reclassified Film Noir. That's not helpful.

I agree with that, although since the noir category is largely defined by atmosphere, it's not hard to see why many ordinary gangster movies get put in that niche. If you listed 50 of your favorite noirs and 50 of your favorite gangster movies from the "noir era" (roughly 1942-1958), and then mixed them up, I doubt if you could find two critics out of a hundred who would agree on how all of them should be classified.
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