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                        Celebrating the Art of Cinema, ... and Cinema as Art


                                                                                         

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REVIEWS:

* The Avengers (5/6/12)  * MEMORIAL DAY 2012 – Red Tails, Memphis Belle, Flyboys, The Blue Max (5/28/12) 
* Prometheus (6/11/12)   * The Amazing Spider-Man (7/9/12)   * 42 (4/17/13)   * Iron Man 3 (5/9/13)  
* Godzilla – 2014 (5/18/14)   * Jurassic World (6/21/15)   * Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2/18/16)
* Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice (6/21/16)   * Captain America: Civil War (5/13/16)

* Kong: Skull Island (3/12/17)




VIEWS ON FILM BY CEJ -
The GRINDHOUSE: Reviews



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Includes almost 2 hours of additional AUDIO & VIDEO bonus material:

* Film Clips
* Theatrical Trailer
* Excerpt from composer Mark Isham's score
* SKYPE Review of "42" featuring ESPN's Jayson Stark, Jerry Crasnik, and Jim Caple
* The complete 1950 feature film THE JACKIE ROBINSON STORY - starring Jackie Robinson as Himself
* Jackie Robinson's 1963 appearance on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW
* Branch Rickey's 1959 appearance on WHAT'S MY LINE
 

 



No Spoilers Review:
"42"
BUILT TO LAST

BRIAN HELGELAND’S “42” BYPASSES FLASH FOR SOLID STORYTELLING; GRINDING OUT A TRIPLE, THEN SCORING AS ONE OF EARLY 2013’s MOST ENJOYABLE FILMS

by CEJ
(posted 4/17/13)

42 (2013)
(Warner Bros. / Legendary)
GullCottage rating (**** on a scale of 1 - 5)

Written & Dir. by - Brian Helgeland

Prod. by - Thomas Tull
Dir. Of Photography  - Don Burgess
Edited by - Kevin Stitt, Peter McNulty
Production Design by - Richard Hoover
Costume Design by - Caroline Harris
Music - Mark Isham
Running Time: 128 mins.


CAST:

Chadwick Boseman (Jackie Robinson), Harrison Ford (Branch Rickey), Nicole Beharie (Rachel Robinson),
Christopher Meloni (Leo Durocher), Andre Holland (Wendell Smith), Ryan Merriman (Dixie Walker), Lucas Black (Pee Wee Reese), Alan Tudyk (Ben Chapman), Hamish Linklater (Ralph Branca), T.R. Knight (Harold Parrott), John C. McGinley (Red Barber), Max Gail (Burt Shotton), Brett Cullen (Clay Hopper)
 


     More than once during the course of “42”, the new biopic chronicling baseball great Jackie Robinson’s shattering of the color barrier to become the first African-American Major Leaguer, questions arise as to whether or not he has the internal grit to endure the gauntlet of trauma and abuse (external and internal) he’ll face during his first two years in “the bigs”.  His reply, “God built me to last!”.  The same can be said of the film bearing his legendary number.

 
                  
  

     Partly the blame of audiences and partly studios, films aren’t allowed anymore to be … films.  They must be “events”.  To re-use an analogy we’ve returned to more than once (more appropriate than ever this time around), every film nowadays must be, hell, … not only a homerun, but a damned bases loaded GRAND SLAM!  With ticket and concession prices, almost feloniously aided and abetted by those “fine print” 3D and other “surcharges”, the price of a babysitter and maybe parking too, once your average film goer plops butt down into theater seat (and it had better be one of those high-backed reclining ones too … hey, at these prices!!!) more often than not, if the film experienced isn’t the newest record breaking IMAX successor to TITANIC or AVATAR,  … then it really wasn’t a success at all, now was it?   

 
                   
 
 
     But there was an earlier time - some called it the “Second Cinema Golden Age” of the 1970s, where, after a decade of extravagantly expensive box office flops (CLEOPATRA, STAR!  HELLO DOLLY and more), studios on the brink of receivership took a “nothing to lose” / “Hail Mary” flyer on a series of smaller films by a new generation of movie makers the likes of Martin Scorcese, Robert Towne, Peter Yates, Robert Altman, Hal Ashby, Roman Polanski, Mark Rydell and others.  The bulk of films by this generation of “Young Turks” were solid, well written, character driven, finely structured and honed pieces of cinema (MEAN STREETS, TAXI DRIVER, CHINATOWN, BULLIT, McCABE & MRS. MILLER, SHAMPOO, CINDERELLA LIBERTY, et al) which eschewed the flash of the previous decade in favor of good old fashioned storytelling which engaged and enraptured audiences in the midst of a then changing social (and socio-political) climate.  Audiences were won over (and at times even moved) by stories which, below the surface of a conventional genre (western, detective noir, crime thriller, love story) mirrored and provided cathartic release from the complex - often unspoken - traumatic pressures of said changing contemporary world in the midst of Vietnam, an evolving Civil and Gender Rights movement, and Watergate era political cynicism and cultural malaise. 



     One of the greatest students of that era of film making was Brian Helgeland. Beginning his screenwriting career with genre faves such as A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET IV: THE DREAM MASTER and 976 - EVIL, he’d evolve into slyly blending his pulp genre sensibilities with later day contemporary concerns in much lauded scripts such as his Oscar winning L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, MYSTIC RIVER, the remakes of MAN ON FIRE and THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1,2,3, GREEN ZONE,  uncredited work on THE BOURNE SUPREMACY and others.  Having also toyed with the conventions of genre as writer / director on the experimental PAYBACK (a remake of John Boorman’s existential 1967 thriller POINT BLANK),  A KNIGHT’S TALE and THE ORDER, his mastery of the idiom serves him well with “42”.  And make no mistake, “42” is (perhaps above all else) a classic genre film done to a "T".   And this "genre" thing is no slight.    


     In fact quite the contrary.  The well wrought sports drama (THE CHAMP, CHARIOTS OF FIRE, RAGING BULL, ROCKY) is classic genre every bit as much as horror, sci fi or the prison escape epic.  All evidence to the contrary, it's not easy to execute well (and intelligently); and as with other cinematic pulp categories the best sports films aren’t about sports at all,  but rather use the safe and familiar conventions of it’s milieu as springboard into the examination and (on a good day) discussion of a subject wholly other.  As the prison dramas PAPILLON, ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ and THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION are less about incarceration and more about escape from the prison of one’s own past and one's own self destructive psychology, so are FIELD OF DREAMS, THE NATURAL, MONEYBALL, … and hell, even THE BAD NEWS BEARS and MAJOR LEAGUE, not at all about “America’s favorite pastime”, but rather about listening to the inner voice, striving for what one knows over what one physically sees, and the ascendancy of the individual over the socio-corporate mind set.  See ..., and you thought they were just about whuppin' up on the other guy.  Uh uh!  There's a lot more going on.  



     With it’s classic bronze burnished cinematography, retro-heroic (at times jazz influenced) score, and larger than life Harrison Ford supporting performance as Brooklyn Dodgers President Branch Rickey (a'chomping - Sgt. Fury-like - on stale cigars, while spouting humorously deep, gravel voiced, socio-spiritual haikus),  “42” is a curled edged, lovingly preserved, vintage Topps baseball card come to surprisingly charming life .  At every plot turn and scene transition it threatens to fall into maudlin cliché and the syrupy recognizable conventions of a moral peppered ABC Afterschool Special (remember those?).  But just at the moment it teases and taunts and hints it may do so, Helgeland’s smart, stylish, wittily energetic and genuinely touching Jackie Robinson bio-pic makes another clever narrative course shift; the audience eventually waking up to the fact that this really isn’t just another in a long line of inspirational “kumbaya” / “can’t we just all get along” sports inspirationals which, within a year, will end up as comedy fodder for Bill Burr’s newest HBO stand up special.

     No, with “42” we’re in the hands of a storytelling craftsman well versed in how to play the expected conventions of genre, then when and how to shift them about on the table (but not too much) for the purpose of attaining something more.  In spite of it's theatrical trailer (and what was the Warner Bros. promotional department thinking? - that rap song is NOT in the movie by the way!) “42” as a film isn’t built to swipe the weekend box office with sexy "all up in 'yo face" short term cinematic "style du jour" bravado; then by the Fall months tumble into the forgotten Rite Aid cheapie bin of $3.00 DVDs.  “42”, like it's 70s era predecessors, is built to last.  It wants people enjoying it, talking about it, and loaning copies out to friends ten and twenty years from now.  Only elegant craftsmanship can can do this; and Helgeland's film (one of the most enjoyable of 2013 thus far) has it, and has it in that subtle low key manner to which few films today aspire.  


"42" Theatrical Trailer #2




Site Search Index:

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play "42" - Score (excerpt) - M. Isham


"WARM UP!" -  STRANGER
(AND BETTER)
THAN FICTION:



     For those who may have been out grabbing a smoke during high school history class, “42” was the number of Brooklyn Dodgers 1st and 2nd Baseman Jackie Robinson (1919 - 1972), who, as mentioned earlier, broke major league baseball’s 60 yr. “color barrier” upon signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers as America’s first African-American major league ball player - his debut appearance with the franchise on April 15, 1947 after one season with the club’s AAA franchise - the Montreal Royals.  Faced with a series of prejudicial challenges in his first year alone (only a handful of which are depicted in the film) - including a petition by many fellow Dodgers who originally refused to play with him, a regular barrage of racial epithets and death threats (verbal and written) hurled at him and his family; and a particularly infamous run-in with racist Philadelphia Phillies Manager Ben Chapman, Robinson’s legendary play, dignity and sense of emotional, mental and spritual cool on and off the the diamond, would eventually win the respect and admiration of the sports world as well as the general public.  And his victory would be one of the primary inspirational catalysts triggering the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s. 


Chadwick Boesman as Jackie Robinson    


     Robinson played for ten seasons: six of them in the World Series - including the Dodgers’ 1955 Championship Win.  He’d receive the first ever MLB Rookie of the Year Award, make the All Star team six consecutive years, become the first black player to win the National League MVP Award, the first African-American television sports analyst, first person of color to be Vice President of a major American corporation, co-found the Freedom National Bank of Harlem, and posthumously receive both the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Quite a bit of achievement to cram into the confines of one two hour film.  And that’s why Robinson’s widow, Rachel (the couple met circa 1940 as students at UCLA, married shortly thereafter, and stayed together until Robinson’s death in ’72) was adverse to anyone attempting to do so.


 THE JACKIE ROBINSON STORY (1950)



     There had been earlier portrayals of Robinson - a 1970s era ABC Afterschool Special (see, and you thought we were just being cheeky), an 80s era Broadway musical, two 1990s made for cable TV movies, and even Robinson portraying himself in 1950’s big screen THE JACKIE ROBINSON STORY, which co-starred Ruby Dee as Rachel.  But because of their mediums, as well as the eras in which they were produced, none were able to be both rousingly inspirational and grittily (even necessarily ugly) realistic in their depictions of prejudicial hurdles … some of which still exists today.  This is LESSON #1 IN THE CRAFTING OF GENRE MATERIAL: as Greek lit taught us - the rise of the hero can only be as great as the opposing evil of his antagonist.  Rachel didn’t want to shy away from the more shameful aspects of an American history she still so vividly remembered, and she wouldn’t allow any film maker taking up the task of her husband’s story to water it down either.  A serendipitous bus ride from Massachusetts to New York would get things moving.


Writer / Director Brian Helgeland    

     In a fit of nostalgia in the Spring of 2011, Brian Helgeland’s father, Thomas, wanted to take a trip from New Bedford, Mass. to his boyhood home of Brooklyn.  Old school all the way, father and son, traveled via bus rather than plane, and nearing the end of the journey six hours later, Brian received a cell call from Warner Bros. producer Thomas Tull (THE DARK KNIGHT series, INCEPTION, 300).  Having spent the lion’s share of his filmic career at the WB, Helgeland was the “go-to guy” when Tull was in the midst of trying to convince Rachel to allow him to produce a new version of her late husband’s story, a notion to which the widow was reticent but willing to discuss with the right person.  Loving baseball, and raised on the Red Sox of the Yaztrzemski era, Helegeland was intrigued, then blown away as at that very moment his bus, now in Manhattan, passed a Jackie Robinson billboard with the words: “Character: Pass It On”.  



     "It was a strange piece of serendipity," Helgeland would confess in an ESPN interview. "It came a little bit like a lightning bolt."


    Nicole Beharie as Rachel "Rae" Robinson


     Rachel’s original desire was to depict her late husband’s story from childhood to grave.  But Helegeland felt more dramatic tension and interpersonal development between personages (one can’t call them characters) could be better achieved by zeroing in on a microcosmic sliver of the famous ballplayer’s life - a more cinematically manageable chunk of time which could be used as a smaller scale analogy of Jackie Robinson’s entire lifespan.  He chose the two year period between 1945 - ’47, from Robinson’s tenure with the Negro Leagues’ Kansas City Monarchs through his rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Finishing his script, he gave it to Rachel, and was surprised and relieved when she returned with (apart from a few authenticity notes) her blessing. 



"42" (2013) - "You Must Be Looking For Your Locker"




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"HITTING THE FIELD!" :



     LESSON #2 IN THE CRAFTING OF GENRE MATERIAL - IS THAT THE MATERIAL IS THE STAR.  When casting THE EXORCIST director William Friedkin bypassed studio suggestion that Marlon Brando be hired for the role of the elderly Father Merrin (eventually portrayed by Max Von Sydow); and a similar decision was made in regards to casting virtual unknown Christopher Reeve for SUPERMAN.  In both instances (SUPERMAN admittedly after numerous big names had turned the project down) the decision was made to not allow the film to become a “star vehicle”, but to rather let the subject matter be such.  Brian Helgeland chose a similar tact in casting “42” - comprised mostly of a recognizable (albiet not entirely famous) assemblage of respected TV character actors. 


Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey    



     Actor / playwright / screenwriter Chadwick Boseman (best known to audiences for recurring roles on LINCOLN HEIGHTS and PERSONS UNKNOWN) would portray Robinson.  Nicole Beharie (from the films AMERICAN VIOLET and SHAME) was cast as Rachel.  Christopher Meloni (LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT, TRUE BLOOD) would essay legendary Vesuvian tempered Dodgers’ GM Leo Durocher.  Lucas Black (AMERICAN GOTHIC, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS) would co-star as All Star Shortstop Pee Wee Reese; Hamish Linklater (THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE) as Pitcher Ralph Branca; Andre Holland (1600 PENN) as barrier breaking African-American journalist Wendell Smith; Alan Tudyk (FIREFLY, DOLLHOUSE) as Phillies GM Ben Chapman; Max Gail (remembered by 70’s era TV audiences as Det. Wojciehowicz on BARNEY MILLER) as Dodgers replacement Manager Burt Shotton; John C. McGinley (SCRUBS, OFFICE SPACE) as iconic radio sportscaster “Red” Barber; and even 1994 Cincinnati Reds first round draft pick “southpaw” C.J. Nitkowski as Phillies fireball pitcher Dutch Leonard.   


   Andre Holland as Wendell Smith


     In fact “42”’s only bonafied big name star would be Harrison Ford (who hasn’t as gleefully lost himself in a role to this degree since 1986’s THE MOSQUITO COAST) as aforementioned Dodgers President Branch Rickey - the man primarily responsible (and he and his family subsequently also threatened physically) for bringing Robinson into the white dominated Majors.

     This bit of well played “stunt casting” follows the oft and similar genre suit of placing international box office draws (a’la Gene Hackman in SUPERMAN, Jeff Bridges in IRON MAN, etc.) in secondary “scene stealing” roles.  Is Ford’s delightful (and ultimately moving) depiction of Rickey Oscar worthy?  Probably not.  But don’t be surprised if you see him pick a People’s Choice or other award later down the line.  He hasn’t been this downright enjoyable in a film for quite some time; and we bet money he’ll turn up in Helgeland’s next film. 


"42" (2013) - "Why Did You Do This?"



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"LEG WORK AND HUSTLE!" :


     Lensed on a (by today’s standards) modest $40 million budget, “42” isn’t flashy, blow-your-doors-off film making.  It’s precise, elegant and tightly constructed and executed, with primary focus on the personalities populating it’s narrative - not unlike the smaller late 1960s / 70s era films of which Helgeland is so enamored - perhaps COOL HAND LUKE in particular.  Like a well oiled ball club, each of it’s individual players aren’t as concerned with “knocking one out of the park” and drawing unbalanced attention to themselves as much as they’re concerned with working in concert and winning the game via hard wrought “leg work” and a little bit ’o old school “Charlie Hustle”.  

Christopher Meloni as Leo Durocher     


     The cinematography of frequent Robert Zemeckis collaborator Don Burgess (FORREST GUMP, CONTACT, THE BOOK OF ELI, THE MUPPETS) is veiled in a stunningly gorgeous slightly de-saturated burnished bronze hue, yet it is almost unnoticeable.  The score by trumpeter / keyboardist / composer Mark Isham (perhaps current king of the sports inspirational with previous work on POINT BREAK, MIRACLE, INVICIBLE and THE EXPRESS) doesn’t pummel audience ears with an Oscar bait central theme meant to be played by future high school marching bands.  He fashions however a slowly building collection of superficially “non-related” musical movements, which like a web upon completion (film’s climax) reviews the long standing classical structure hitherto unseen or understood.  It’s a masterwork of complex subtly. 



   John C. McGinley as "Red" Barber / Max Gail as Burt Shotton

    
One would not immediately think of “42” as a “Special FX Film”, but (in the strictest sense of the phrase) it is, with nearly every shot (even interiors) augmented, set expanded, color adjusted or entirely created by one form of CGI or another.  Unlike the standard Cameron, Lucas or Robert Zemeckis outing however, the fx of “42” are, like everything else (that phrase again) elegantly subtle,  designed to enhance reality and not remove the audience from it.

     Primarily shot in two minor league ball parks - Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Ala,. and Engel Stadium in Chattanooga, Tenn., CGI was then used to alter the venues into Ebbets Field - Brooklyn, Connie Mack Stadium - Philadelphia, Crosley Field - Cincinnati, etc.  The attention to detail of Helgeland and production designer Richard Hoover (GIRL INTERRUPTED, THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD) was such that they searched out old stadium blueprints to make sure the look and feel of the architecture was authentic.  Kudos to them, in collaboration with Ryan Anderson and crew at Shade vfx (CHRONICLE, I AM NUMBER FOUR, COWBOYS & ALIENS), for masterful work. 



Composer Mark Isham and Cinematographer Don Burgess



     Nowhere is Helgeland’s cinematically executed theme of “elegant subtly” more pronounced than in the film’s lineup of stellar performances.  As mentioned earlier, Ford’s Branch Rickey is arguably his most enjoyable work in years.  And it’s nothing short of amazing that in a film with so many speaking roles, every person as scripted (except maybe Rachel) is assigned darker aspects of their personalities to overcome, be it deep seeded bigotry they never realized they possessed, a life crippling lack of trust in humanity, or long buried demons of guilt pitch-forking behind a well practiced public smile.  Through some manner of narrative prestidigitation, Helgeland manages to give almost every speaking character with more than two or three lines some manner of emotional arc integral to the rest of the film.  At times it’s cleverly done by “filling in the blanks” and providing backstory leading up to a famously iconic image - such as Pee Wee Reese’s on field brotherly embrace of Robinson in Cincinnati, or the historic photo op of Robinson and Phillies GM Ben Chapman supposedly “burying the hatchet” after Chapman’s earlier-in-the-season racist tirade. 


   Alan Tudyk as Ben Chapman
     While honor is due to every member of the cast (Christopher Meloni’s Durocher is another scene stealing fave) top honors go to Boseman’s Robinson and Tudyk’s Chapman.  Perhaps the greatest danger of a biopic is in making it's protagonist too squeaky clean.  And for this reason we still have problems with Cameron’s TITANIC and Mel Gibson’s BRAVEHEART;  both films well researched and executed cinema.  But the chief characters of both of which have no damned flaws to speak of. 


     In BRAVEHEART Gibson’s William Wallace is at worst simply a bad judge of character, taking into his confidence men who will later betray him, and this by extension making his character seem brave to be sure, but none too sharp.  And in TITANIC, wouldn’t it have been more interesting to see Jack and Rose not only have to overcome the disapproving flaw of society in regards to their class defying romance, but also overcome flaws of their own past and making.  Perhaps DeCaprio’s starving artist, Jack, years earlier may have in desperation stolen money or jewelry in order to survive - an action which comes back to haunt him when he’s later falsely accused of stealing the jewelry of Rose’s family. 

"Come at me, bro!" - BRAVEHEART's Wallace: a bit too squeaky clean.   


     And try on for size the notion that perhaps it was originally Rose’s idea (a half hearted but desperate one) to “marry into money” for the sake of providing for her family in general, and her  mother's gilded lifestyle in particular.  It may have been something she regretted immediately after setting it into motion, but it was a mistake, ... a flaw of hers!  You see what we're getting at.  Later, when the two meet one another aboard the ill fated ship, they discover true love changing the course of their destinies as well as their desperate pasts.  But those pasts must still be dealt with before they can be together and complete.  Streisand's and Redford's characters have personal flaws to overcome before they find true love in THE WAY WE WERE.  Tim Robbins' Andy Dufresne has a personal flaw to overcome before he can experience freedom (physically and spiritually) in THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION.  And in truest genre (and just plain good storytelling) fashion so does Boseman's Robinson. 


   Boseman's Robinson - intriguingly flawed.


     The athletic hero who (as the film's tagline reminds us) "In a game divided by color, made us see greatness" is a man of religious faith, ... but he ain't no choir boy.  He's a fighter.  Brave and stalwart, he’s also filled with rage, distrust and a bit of tunnel-visioned arrogance.  And while we understand from whence this comes, we also understand his present roiling internal conflict - “stand up and kick ass now” or to let his talent do the “ass kicking and talking” so that later down the line future generations, his own children included, won’t have to.  Without pouring his guts out in extended dialog and faux "method" acting, Bosemen makes the shifting mental / emotional battle real and accesible.  Again, it’s perhaps not the kind of flashy performance which wins Oscar notice.  But it's genuinely real, approachable and affecting. 

    
Alan Tudyk    


     Notwithstanding, the toughest (and surely most underrated) performance is Alan Tudyk’s bigoted Ben Chapman.  To this day a blight upon Philadelphia sports history, Chapman’s depiction has to walk the line between realistically vehement (the ugly reality of which Rachel Robinson didn’t want to skirt), non-cliché (if you’ve seen comedian Bill Burr’s standup routine on movie race stereotypes - and the bigoted “shouter” with veins popping from his forehead, you know what we mean), and yes, even humor. 

     Tudyk (not unlike Brent Spiner - another dramatic actor gifted with the uncanny ability to inject a comedic undertone to the most serious portrayal) has to drop as many “n” bombs within two minutes of screen time as the film DJANGO UNCHAINED does in it’s entire second half.  And he must do so in realistic, hateful and morally reprehensible fashion.  But at the same time, from the perspective of film making craft (and international movie distribution concerns), his depiction can’t be so dark as to slap the film with an “R” rating.  Nor can his depiction become too oppressive for an audience to endure.  Hence an underlying sense of humor is called for which will not make him “sympathetic” - by no means; but will make him human.  When he later attempts to rationalize his behavior by explaining he's treated Jews and Italians in the same manner, it's heartbreakingly tragic, damned infuriating, and (uncomfortably) funny all at the same time.  Tudyk's performance (a "dark clone of Archie Bunker"?) is a balancing act few could pull off convincingly.  And for the time he’s on screen, he walks away with the film in pocket.  Hopefully his brief (albeit quietly stunning) performance will be remembered come next year's awards season.


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"BOTTOM OF THE 9TH!" :


     Whenever someone says "Hey, don't take it so seriously; it's just a game" in reference to football, baseball or other competitive endeavor, it's obvious they, well ... just don't get it.  Because it's not just a game - there's major symbolism for all involved as well as for those witnessing.  When the U.S. Olympic Hockey team defeated the mighty Russian machine, then took the gold medal in Lake Placid's 1980 "Miracle On Ice",  it was the shot of optimistic tonic needed for a nation which had just endured a decade of political corruption and financial recession.  When Billie Jean King came out as gay in 1981 (this after winning near 39 "Grand Slam" tennis titles and defeating Bobby Riggs in the infamous "Battle of the Sexes" match), she became a role model for others in the LGBT community.  And when men of color such as Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Jesse Owens (who made "master race" preacher Adolph Hitler leave the Berlin Olympic stadium in shame) and Jackie Robinson kicked ass in the ring and on the field, their triumphs would help ignite the nation's Civil Rights movement.  Just a game? Not quite. 





     The best sports genre films are at their core pulp genre exercises as steeped in tradition (and yes, at times cliché) as their horror, sci fi, romantic comedy and suspense thriller counterparts.  If you’ve seen enough of any of them, you know which buttons are going to be pushed, as well as when, how and (sometimes even) why.  And, believe it or not, to NOT sometimes see or experience these expected pushed triggers ironically disappoints the audience.  It takes a master of the pulp milieu to push some, pretend to push others, then in the end do it all in a manner which is both familiar and fresh at the same time.  Helgoland’s “42” is one of the better such “trigger pushers” in recent years.  A cut above recent fare such as REMEMBER THE TITANS, GRIDIRON GANG and THE EXPRESS (enjoyable films all), it more deserves a place amongst that slightly more layered brotherhood of CHARIOTS OF FIRE, the original ROCKY, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, and even RAGING BULL; as well, of course, as a place along the mantle with fellow baseball classics THE NATURAL, FIELD OF DREAMS and THE ROOKIE. 





     By the way …

     Helgeland’s personal favorite baseball movie of all time?  

     "THE BAD NEWS BEARS", he says. "There's a joy to that movie and an innocence.  It gets to the heart of baseball despite all its oddball characters. Baseball brings everyone together no matter where they're from or how different they are, and there's a redemptive quality in the Walter Matthau character."

     Nuff said.  

     “Play Ball!”.


         

                                                                                                                                                   CEJ

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* BONUS - SKYPE REVIEW OF "42" BY ESPN's JAYSON STARK, JERRY CRASNIK, AND JIM CAPLE



(10:13)

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* BONUS - FULL LENGTH FEATURE FILM: "THE JACKIE ROBINSON STORY" (1950)





THE JACKIE ROBINSON STORY (1950)

Running Time: 76 mins.
Aspect Ratio: 35 mm / 1:37 - 1

Dir. by - Alfred E. Green
Prod. by - Mort Briskin & William J. Heinman
(for United Artists)
Written by. - Arthur Mann, Lawrence Taylor
Dir. of Photography - Ernest Laszlo
Edited by - Arthur H. Nadel

Music by - Herschel Burke Gilbert

Dist. by - Eagle / Lion Films Inc. 
Orig. Release Date: May 16, 1950

CAST:

Jackie Robinson (Himself),
Ruby Dee (Rachel "Rae" Robinson),
Minor Watson (Branch Rickey),
Louise Beavers (Jackie's Mother),
Richard Lane (Clay Hopper),
Harry Shannon (Frank Shauhnessy),
William "Bill" Spaulding (Himself)








(76 mins.)

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* BONUS - (excerpt) JACKIE ROBINSON ON "THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW" (MAY 20, 1963)



(1:00 min.)


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* BONUS - BRANCH RICKEY ON "WHAT'S MY LINE" (SEPT. 13, 1959)



(9:09 mins.)

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