You'll HIT With Him! You'll RUN With Him! You'll SLIDE With Him! Biography of
Jackie Robinson, the first black major league baseball player in the 20th
century. Traces his career in the negro leagues and the major leagues.
Running Time: 76 Minutes
MPAA Ratings: PG
There was a time, just after the Second World War, when the United States was
at a crossroads. The war changed everything, including the social perceptions of
peopleís place in society based on gender and race. Women, who were previously
thought of as relegated to managing the home, found they liked the freedom that
came from having their own incomes as well as the status that came with it.
Likewise, African Americans were given a bigger role.
Into this time
came people who would be a catalyst for challenging many peopleís pre-conceived
notions. They could be called revolutionary, but many of them achieved what they
accomplished with a quiet dignity rather than loud demonstrations. One of those
such people was Jackie Robinson.
The Jackie Robinson
Story was filmed over the winter in 1949 Ė 1950. 1949 had been a
stellar year for the Brooklyn Dodger second baseman. He won the batting
championship and was voted the National Leagueís Most Valuable Player. To
capitalize on that somewhat, this film was rushed to production to be out in
time for the start of the 1950 baseball season. It starred none other than
Jackie Robinson himself.
The Jackie Robinson
Story starts out in 1928 when a young Jackie Robinson impresses a
local audience with his fielding enough that a man gives the boy an old glove of
his that is falling apart. Still, Jackie loves the glove. As he grows up, he
ends up running track for UCLA and impressing everyone not only on the track but
on the football field and baseball diamond as well.
(portrayed by Minor Watson) owns the Dodgers and wants to sign the first black
player to play major league baseball. He decides to take the chance on Robinson.
Rickey says it's because of the depletion of quality players following the war.
He asks Robinson to take the chance as well, telling him that no matter what
happens he can't fight back and must let his playing on the field be the
statement he makes.
The main problem with The Jackie
Robinson Story is the lack of depth to the characters. I never
felt like I really got to know anyone all that well, even Robinson. The film
comes in at just 76 minutes long and it feels it. I can know in abstract that it
was going to be difficult for Robinson to break into the Major Leagues. I can
know he had to endure plenty, from both his fellow players and the so-called
fans. I want to understand more of that and his reaction to it. I would like to
have seen his struggles and frustrations in light of the obstacles he faced. I
would have liked to have gotten a feel for the bond between him and his wife
that helped him have the strength to turn the other cheek to the racial taunts
and sometimes outright physical intimidation.
Jackie Robinson Story is a shallow picture that fails in many ways
to draw viewers in. Thatís a shame because the story is such a compelling one.
As far as the acting goes, well, Jackie Robinson may have been a great
civil rights activist. He may also have been one of the greatest ballplayers in
baseball, ever. I can't say Jackie Robinson is one of the greatest actors I have
ever known, however. He does a decent job, but it's not exceptional. You would
think with being able to be emotionally invested in what happened he could get
the part down pretty good, but he doesnít. I think so much had been
fictionalized in The Jackie Robinson Story to make it
fit in with the climate of the times that Robinson had difficulty fitting into
Ruby Dee as his wife Rae is very good. This was her first
major role and she does quite well. Her acting is so good, that the scenes in
which she is opposite Robinson are some of the best and I would have liked to
have seen more of them.
Minor Watson is great as Branch Rickey. He
portrays the man as pig-headed and stubborn, which was a good attitude to have
with the way The Jackie Robinson Story depicts events
happening. Rickey is written to be more interested in gaining notoriety for
having the first black player in Major League baseball. My opinion is that
Rickey was motivated more by money than a sense of what was ďrightĒ although
thatís not really shown here. If Rickey thought he could have won the pennant
and kept drawing in crowds without starting to cull from the Negro Leagues, I
believe he would have done so.
Also forgotten along the way are the
events in Jackieís life which led up to this moment. The cliches such as the
incident with the glove are there, but missing are an accurate picture of what
his time in the Army was like. This time included a court-martial for refusing
to sit in the back of a bus during a transport operation. Thereís nothing shown
on how the other Negro League players reacted to Rickey choosing Robinson to
break the color barrier.
I was surprised that there havenít been more
movies made about the man who did so much to further the standing of African
Americans both in the sporting community as well as in society. Spike Lee has
been rumored to want to do a project on Robinsonís life for years, and thereís
also one in pre-production with Robert Redford as Branch Rickey. I would really
like to see his story covered in modern times with less of the influences this
I watched The Jackie Robinson Story
on DVD in black and white. I have to say the picture has held up pretty well
through the years and a good job was done restoring the picture and sound. The
only problem is the complete lack of extras on the disc.
Jackie Robinson Story isnít a horrible film. Itís just way too
short for the subject matter and could have either been more in tune with
telling the real story so Robinson could portray himself with more comfort, or
had someone else cast as the lead. Itís worth a peek for baseball fans, although
I am more hopeful about some of the other pictures possibly coming out soon
about this manís life. Epinions.com
Jackie Robinson is a legend! This is a great movie, I loved this version.
Well done. amazon.com
A wonderful film that acts as a homage to Jackie Robinson (played by
himself). The early life of the first black Major League baseball player is
shown in a way that makes the picture wholesome and appropriate for all
audiences. Ruby Dee is perfect as Robinson's loving wife who stands behind her
husband when it seems that no one else will. "The Jackie Robinson Story" was
made in 1950 so the social issues and the intense prejudices that Robinson faced
are only given a minute glimpse. I have been wanting a movie to be made that
goes into greater detail about this individual's life as Robinson was just as
important to Civil Rights as people who fought vehemently for equality in the
1960s. The integration of baseball is something that most never believed would
happen before 1947 and many forget just how important a piece of American
history that is. Not the best film ever made, in fact it is not even great for
its time period. I still like and respect the production for what it is though.
4 stars out of 5. Amazon.com written by tfrizzell
CAST & CREW:
Alfred E. Green
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