Saturday, April 13, 2013

Film Review: "42"

The newly released movie, "42" tells the story of Jackie Robinson, who signed with Brooklyn Dodgers and broke the color barrier in 1947.  Instead of telling the life story of Robinson from birth to grave, the movie focused on Robinson during the two years of him signing with Brooklyn, playing a year in the minor leagues with Montreal Royals and his rookie year in the majors in 1947.  I am going to give my thoughts on the movie from a cinematic and factual perspective.

"42" did a great job getting the facts correct.  From the initial conversation between Branch Rickey and Robinson had about having the guts not to fight back, to the treatment of Robinson by his teammates and opponents.  The most poignant scene showed Robinson getting verbally abused by Philadelphia Phillies manager Ben Chapman.  It is lengthy and sometimes uncomfortable scene to watch, but it showed what Robinson had to endure and I am sure it occurred on more of a consistent basis.  All the on the field incidents between the players and team did actually happen such as Eddie Stanky confronting Chapman and the suspension of Leo Durocher.  The movie did "Hollywood" it up some though.  Adding lines by Leo Durocher("Nice guys finish last") and Pee Wee Reese ("Maybe we all will wear 42...") is quite unnecessary.  The scene in the clubhouse between a frustrated Robinson and Mr. Rickey in Philadelphia didn't really happen.

As a movie itself, writer and director, Brian Helgeland, did a fantastic job at putting the audience in the era.  The way the people dressed, the cars they drove and the old ballparks pictured looked very authentic.  I am  glad that they had a relative unknown, Chadwick Boseman, portraying Robinson.  If a better known actor would have played  Robinson, he would have taken away from the story and people would see more of the Hollywood star instead of Robinson.  I also thought Harrison Ford did a great job portraying Branch Rickey and John C. McGinley as announcer Red Barber.

Overall the movie is very good. While being entertaining to watch, it also tells the story of Jackie Robinson quite well. I am not sure it will be a huge success at the box office, but I am glad it was made.  The life of Jackie Robinson should not be forgotten and I hope a new generation will learn and appreciate Mr. Robinson because of this film.  Whether, you are a baseball fan or would like to learn more American History, I would recommend it.  My rating: I give it a triple (3 out of 4 bases).

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