A solid movie whose time has come
I got a chance to see "42" over the weekend. I know many of you probably saw it over the first two weeks, but I was a little slower than most to see the film.
"42" highlights the selection of Jackie Robinson by the Brooklyn Dodgers to break baseball's color barrier. It reviews Robinson's move from player with the Negro Leagues' Kansas City Monarchs, to starting first baseman with the Dodgers. It gives you just a taste of what Robinson was facing when he started his career with the Dodgers.
First thought here-- a lot of the scenes in the movie concerning Robinson were covered first by one of my favorite documentaries-- Ken Burns' "Baseball." However, for those who may have forgot that series, the film is a great vehicle to refresh your memory. Second thought-- :"42" did a great job of capturing a lot of Robinson's struggles in his personal life. Excellent job in that.
My positives from the movie... great job of portraying Rachel Robinson's support role in Jackie Robinson's life. Other kudos to giving unsung writing hero Wendell Smith a lot of time. Smith-- writing for the black-cultured newspaper the "Pittsburgh Courier"-- was among the very first writers to push for integration. He is placed in a very positive light, and deservedly so.
My negatives? The man who portrayed broadcaster Red Barber in the film was mediocre at best. I am a play by play broadcaster, and I was appalled. I'm sorry, but that is my honest opinion. The man doing Barber seemed to be forced in his portrayal of the broadcasting legend. Shouldn't that role have gone to a well-known broadcaster who could have studied Barber and done a better job? Whoever did it should have learned at the feet of a man who worked with Barber-- and is still working today-- Vin Scully.
Also, in the K.C. Monarchs scene at the gas station, I wish they would have cameoed Monarchs manager Buck O'Neil. O'Neil became legendary-- thanks in large part to "Baseball"-- and it would have been a great last fitting tribute. Plus, the original story of the gas station was told by O'Neil himself-- again in "Baseball"...
Finally, I researched this... It was a gambling scandal, and not a sex scandal, that caused Leo Durocher's one year suspension. He indeed was in an affair with married actress Laraine Day-- who he later married after her divorce-- but the rest of the comments were accurate.
All in all though, "42" was a solid movie. It wasn't a home run-- but it didn't strike out either. It was a solid double into the gap... and definitely worth your time to see. 2 1/2 stars out of four.
That's my take... I'm Tom Lee