- #140RVW: Major League (1989)
- #140RVW: A League of Their Own (1992)
- The Sandlot (1993)
- #140RVW: Bang the Drum Slowly (1973)
- #140RVW: Field of Dreams (1989)
- #140RVW: Fever Pitch (2005)
- #140RVW: 42 (2013)
- #140RVW: Moneyball (2011)
- #140RVW: Brooklyn Dodgers: Ghosts of Flatbush (2007)
- #140RVW: Wait ‘Til Next Year: Saga of the Cubs (2006)
- #140RVW: Everyone’s Hero (2006)
- #140RVW: Rookie of the Year (1993)
- #140RVW: Knuckleball! (2012)
- #140RVW: Eight Men Out (1988)
- The Jackie Robinson Story (1950)
140 Character Movie Review – #140RVW
What can you say? As a film it’s fairly pedestrian, but it’s hard to care about that while watching this hero relive his story… #Jackie42
Spoiler-free Movie Review of The Jackie Robinson Story:
Today is April 15th, Jackie Robinson Day. It’s one of the most important days of the year, not just the baseball season. It would be impossible to overstate the impact of Robinson on our world. Greater talents than mine have articulated the significance of #42 and I’m not going to try to improve upon them. Suffice it to say, Jack Roosevelt Robinson was a hero of nearly mythical stature, which should not obscure the fact that he was a phenomenal ballplayer and athlete.
The story of the collaboration of Jackie and Brooklyn Dodgers President Branch Rickey to break baseball’s color barrier is such a great one that it was destined to be the subject of a feature film. The only surprising thing is that it was made while he was still playing. In a move that would never happen today, the titular hero played himself in his own autobiography. The movie was filmed in the off-season following Robinson’s third year in the majors. That’s the season of 1949, in which he won the Most Valuable Player award, hitting .342 with 124 RBIs. Busy year…
As inspiring as Robinson’s story is, there’s no getting around the fact that this is a B-movie. It must have been made for about $11, and none of it was spent on production values. The picture is so slapped together it stops just short of employing cartoon sound effects to let you know how you should feel (since you’re not likely to get any clues from any of the actors).
I find it interesting and appropriate that no one would do as good of a job portraying Robinson than Jackie himself, but it does play a bit weird. I’ve seen this technique used before and it’s no less strange. I suppose it’s like watching those dramatic recreations of scenes from bad TV shows like Unsolved Mysteries. Still, he is the only man truly qualified for this role, and he’s a pleasure to watch. It’s just a bit awkward. No one should be asked to reenact their own life – it’s odd.
Ruby Dee acquits herself nicely as Rae Robinson and Minor Watson nails Branch Rickey. Yes, he’s over the top and unbelievable, but reportedly that really is how Rickey conducted himself.
The baseball footage is pretty good, even if it’s filmed entirely wrong; nice to see a little footage of Ebbetts Field, even if I’m certain it’s just stock. The movie in general just suffers from old movie lack of polish. Nothing really wrong, just workmanlike.
There’s almost no humor in the film at all. Not really an issue, but the filmmakers clearly thought it was, since they shoehorn in a recurring bit with a short ballplayer called – wait for it – Shorty, who keeps popping up the ball because he’s…short. It’s exactly as funny as it sounds…
Since Jackie and Rae Robinson were involved, you’d expect the historical accuracy of the picture to be pretty unassailable, and for the most part it is. It just makes the few missteps even more surprising, like the Kansas City Monarchs being re-christened the “Black Panthers”. Seriously? Also, the film shows him speaking before the House of Representatives; it’s a nice moment, but the real reason he was “invited” was to testify before the House of Representatives’ Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). Sigh…
The Jackie Robinson Story is not a great biopic. It would take until 2013’s 42 for that. (Although the 1996 HBO movie Soul of the Game was pretty good.) But it’s really not important – you can’t judge all films just on their technical merits. It’s a powerful and wonderful story, and Jackie Robinson deserved the spotlight and to take a bow…
The Representation Test Score: B (8 pts)
|Main Cast||Jackie Robinson Jackie Robinson
Ruby Dee Rae Robinson
Minor Watson Branch Rickey
Louise Beavers Jackie’s Mother
|Director||Alfred E. Green|
|Genres||Biography, Drama, Sport|
|Plot||Biography of Jackie Robinson, the first black major league baseball player in the 20th century. Traces…|
|Tagline||You’ll HIT With Him! You’ll RUN With Him! You’ll SLIDE With Him!|
|Writers||Arthur Mann, Lawrence Taylor|