42 rm- When a  movie can tell the story of an important 20th century historical event, gets it right with the subject being our national pastime, baseball, and racial prejudice, it has achieved an extra base hit. If that movie can appeal to youngsters from pre-teens upwards and can push all the buttons of baseball fans who lived (one of us in Brooklyn) through the time frame of this story, it has hit a homerun. After experiencing this film with our two grandchildren we certainly felt that way. Jackie Robinson was chosen by Branch Rickey, general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, in 1947 to become the first black baseball player in the major leagues. This film traces Rickey’s decision and Robinson’s journey out of the all black baseball league, first to the Montreal Royals, the Dodger’s premier farm club, then to the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Major Leagues. The film portrays racial slurs, threats, bean balls to the head, being refused check-in at hotels, mixed reaction from the Dodger teammates who included Dixie Walker, Pee Wee Reese, Ralph Branca, Gene Hermansky and  Eddie Stankey. It showed tough manager Leo Durocher (Christopher Meloni) who got thrown off the team for an extramarital affair with actress Lorraine Day and kindly manager Burt Shotten (Max Gail) who wore street clothes whila managing because he promised his wife he would never put on another baseball uniform after he retired. Director and screenplay writer Brian Heigeland (who previously wrote Mystic River and won an Academy Award for his adaptation of LA Confidential) apparently got his love of Brooklyn and the history of the Dodgers from his dad. Once he got interested in this story he won the rights and the blessing of Robinson’s widow Rachel. He went out of his way to bring authenticity to the story and chose his baseball scenes from the actual box scores. Adding Brooklyn sportscaster Red Barber’s (John McGinley) play by play was a good touch. Relative newcomer Chadwick Boseman did an excellent job as Robinson, as did Nicole Beharie as Rachel. Their chemistry was wonderful and apparently was very moving to the real Rachel. However, if anybody other than Jackie Robinson was stealing anything other than  second base it may have been Harrison Ford as Dodger GM Branch Rickey stealing the movie. His cigar chewing inflections, his determination and the glint in his eye must have channeled the real Rickey and certainly brought his spirit to the film. It may even bring an Oscar statue to Mr Ford. Of course the star is Jackie Robinson and this film will certainly allow him and his legacy to live on  for future generations- a most worthwhile outcome.(2013)

Category: 4 Stars, Drama, History, Sport | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Comment »

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