Cons: overlooked Satchel Paige and gave no credit to his brother's own accomplishments
The Bottom Line: "For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out, At the old ball game" ~Jack Norworth
After recently watching The Jackie Robinson Story I had to take some time to reflect on the whole thing. Certainly the racial break-through in this movie was dramatic but I’d heard it before when watching Don’t Look Back: The Satchel Paige Story. One of the things that bothered me about the Jackie Robinson telling was the fact they completely omitted of any mention of Satchel Paige. In my opinion, apparently only my opinion, Paige was a major factor in crossing the black/white barrier in America’s sport - baseball.
Not to diminish Robinson’s own trials and tribulations when he stepped over that line, I just felt they slighted some significant baseball history when they handed it all, part and parcel, to Robinson.
Another thing I found amazing, I didn’t realize Robinson was so large. Generally, in that time frame, people seemed smaller in stature and baseball players, in particular, seemed slimmer. Not saying he was overweight, he was just a tall, big guy. Of course, Babe Ruth wasn’t exactly a small man either but he was ‘rounder’ than Robinson, if you get the drift.
Robinson, who played himself, showed remarkable restraint and a true showmanship of grace and honor as he listened to the inferior comments each time he stepped up to bat. Naturally that changed quickly, once he started proving himself - baseball fans are fickle at best.
The film wasn’t of the highest quality, definitely signs of a low budget, and is filmed in black and white during the break after Robinson’s third stint with the Dodgers. A small portion is dedicated to his earlier years, starting in 1928, when he received a gift of a beaten up glove by a stranger and changed his life forever. It advances to 1937, when he is at Pasadena Junior College. A small mention is made later when he broke his brother’s national broad jumping record but it entirely passes over the fact that the brother, Mack, won an Olympic Silver Medal in 1936, finishing only 0.4 seconds after Jesse Owens.
In fact, Mack holds almost a comedic part in the movie, shown in the early morning light as part of the street cleaning crew and making light of his college education, bringing him to this result. I don’t mean comedic as in ‘ha-ha-ha’ either, but in a rather sad way.
Robinson’s schooling continues to UCLA where he participated in various sports, never thinking of baseball as a career. Instead, he strives for a coaching job but is thwarted because of his race. Barely mentioning his Army stint, Robinson finally joins the Negro Baseball League where his prowess came to the notice of Branch Rickey, president and GM of the Brooklyn Dodgers … and history was made.
Robinson carried the camera work well since he had no real training in that arena. Then again, how could he fail, he was playing himself. I would imagine it was difficult resurrecting those memories but since this was filmed at the beginning of his career, those insults and images were still fresh in his mind. I would have appreciated more actual sports coverage, the sports shots were minimal. Of course, this wasn’t really about the game but the people in it and the people watching it.
Ruby Dee gave a good performance as his wife, Rae. The balance of the supporting cast gave decent performances and gave the piece a feeling of reality.
This was directed by Alfred E. Green; written by Arthur Mann and Lawrence Taylor. It won no awards and the only rating noted was from Canada - PG.
What did you think of this review?
Fun to Read
About the reviewer
Susi Dawson (SusiDee34)
Live your life with the goal to 'pay it forward' and do one good thing for someone else
Consider the Source
Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.
This biographical film stars the baseball legend himself in a dramatic story about the player who integrated major league ball. The story begins with Jackie Robinson's early years, profiling the successful young athlete who excelled in various collegiate sports. It then follows him to his momentous meeting with Branch Rickey of the no less legendary Brooklyn Dodgers who brought Robinson in as a professional player to the previously all-white sport.