September 21, 2012 at 3:51 pm #69772
42 is an upcoming 2013 biographical film about the life of baseball player Jackie Robinson. It is directed by Academy Award winner Brian Helgeland and will star Chadwick Boseman as Robinson. It is scheduled to be released on April 12, 2013 (Jackie Robinson made his MLB debut April 15, 1947).
The film will also star Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, Christopher Meloni as Leo Durocher, T.R. Knight as Harold Parrott, Lucas Black as Pee Wee Reese and Nicole Beharie as Rachel Isum.
I know 42 comes out in April, but here’s hoping the film is great and Harrison Ford finally wins an Oscar.September 21, 2012 at 4:23 pm #69774
Thanks 24E. I’m already intrigued. As far as I’m concerned, Jackie Robinson deserves a National Holiday in his honour.September 21, 2012 at 5:01 pm #69775
An April release date means it will either be a surprise hit and will carry strong support into nomination morning, or, and most likely, it will flop (which would be sad because this is such a moving story in a time where race relations were so strained)September 23, 2012 at 8:37 pm #69776
I dont think it’s going to flop. And of course my hope is that it will be remembered the following year. It’s Brian Hegeland, which is more than encouraging. it’s close to his anniversary date, he’s got a great tech crew. When I watched the trailer in the theatre, the energy rose in the room.
I’m optimistic, in any event.February 10, 2013 at 12:43 am #69778
Very strange release date as this has Oscar Bait written all over it.
Great to see Harrison appearing in a film that at least appears to be ‘quality’, something that he has done too little of in his career.February 10, 2013 at 10:00 am #69779
LOL re Harrison Ford. He always says, his bosses are the people who buy a ticket. He’s not much of a disappointment there.April 9, 2013 at 11:54 pm #69780
42 comes out Friday! It’s the one movie I need to see this year.
It had its LA premiere tonight. Here’s hoping the reviews and box office numbers are great.April 10, 2013 at 12:15 am #69781
I agree that Ford has usually chosen quantity over quality, so I’m really hoping he knocks this out of the park (pun intended).April 10, 2013 at 12:51 am #69783
Built to Last
by Armond White on Apr 9, 2013 • 11:40 pm
Jackie Robinson and Hollywood make history again
We are fortunate to be spared Spike Lee’s take on the Jackie Robinson
story, which surely would have been spiteful: emphatic about race
grievance and loaded with numerous Spikey tangents. But Brian Helgeland
has fashioned 42, a superbly watchable tale, from Robinson’s
groundbreaking desegregation of professional baseball through the
machinations of farm system innovator Branch Rickey. It’s also a film
about American spiritual history and destiny. The issues and emotions
have a beautiful clarity.
after Robinson’s player number (retired for all teams by the Major
League Baseball association yet worn by players every April 15th–Jackie
Robinson Day), 42 commemorates Robinson breaking the game’s
color bar in 1947 as the first Negro playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Helgeland depicts this world-changing risk as a cultural story–not
simply one man’s life story. Instead of biographical depth, 42’s
character sketches sustain the same benevolence as the MLB’s memorial;
its lively and vivid narrative celebrate the arduous steps of a social
and moral revolution.
More than a baseball movie, 42 touches on the folktale
qualities evinced in Robinson (played by Chadwick Boseman) and Dodgers’
General Manager Rickey (played by Harrison Ford). Showing baseball as
the medium of social change, its practice and rituals are understood as
basic to America’s sense of capability despite prevailing social
divisions. That explains Helgeland’s elastic, All-American sense of
class. Robinson strides into the roughneck world of sport possessing
higher personal principles. He and wife Rachel (Nicole Beharie) are
already upwardly mobile; they need only the income and recognition that
White Americans take for granted.
Helgeland’s respect for aspiration, which informs every scene, is
central to the story’s concept. Rickey’s decision to integrate baseball
has an uplifting, spiritual goal: “I don’t know who he is or where he
is, but he’s coming,” Rickey says in 1945 and then after narrowing a
list of prohibited Negro players, half-jokes, “Robinson is a Methodist,
I’m a Methodist, God is a Methodist. You can’t go wrong, get him here.”
But Rickey’s also pragmatic: “Dollars aren’t black or white, they’re
green.” His justifications are true to a folksy era far different from
today’s avaricious secularism yet it’s authentic to a way of thinking
and feeling that was intrinsic to the psychodynamics of that 19th
century sport. This fact supports Helgeland’s unique historic fable
quality (perfectly expressed in Sister Wynona Carr’s vintage gospel end
credits theme “The Ball Game” (“Life is a ball game but you got to play
Now let’s get rid of any narrow-minded suspicion about Hollywood race
stories always unequally pairing history’s Black sacrificial figures
with dominant White cohorts. Helgeland’s even-handed vision of the
Rickey-Robinson revolution enlarges it, taking in different aspects of
America’s racial reality. Not merely the Jackie Robinson story, 42
relates tandem efforts and transformations by Rickey, Negro sports
writer Wendell Smith (Andre Holland), assorted teammates (many brief,
perfectly etched characterizations from Max Gail’s affable retired
manager Burt Shotton, Chris Meloni’s virile Leo Durocher to Lucas
Black’s affable Pee Wee Reese) and the crowds who fill the stands. This
is some of the best casting since Cadillac Records; all profiles in courage.
The back office functioning behind America’s public face rarely gets
shown but 42 appropriately reveals its significance, primarily through
Harrison Ford’s undeniable appeal. Never credited for comic warmth, that
quality distinguished Ford’s Indiana Jones from all movie action
heroes. As Rickey, Ford’s elderly crusty growl is a homey voice of
experience. Even Ford’s sly smile has spiritual authority which keeps
Rickey’s personal confession (when Robinson asks him “Why?”) from being
soggy or pious; it’s a perfectly balanced personification of wiliness
and principle. Ford’s masculine affability confirms the noble essence of
the civil rights movement, especially in Rickey’s warning to Robinson:
“Like our Saviour, you’ve got to have the guts to turn the other cheek.”
Projecting magnanimous decency, Ford puts Rickey’s risk-taking and
persistent urging in perfect balance to newcomer Boseman who portrays
Robinson’s circumspect heroism. This isn’t a timid, harmless Black man;
he’s self-assured yet resentful of those who want to make him humble.
Jeffrey Wright has played this Poitier complex but Denzel Washington
never has. 42 is the first movie ever to show what it’s like for a Black
man of intelligence to be disrespected by the White ruling class yet
maintain his dignity and modesty. (42 has moments that compare
to Poitier‘s recall of hearing a Hollywood technician call for “the
nigger light” and having to endure the degradation.) Boseman’s wary
intelligence conveys deep pride, a forgotten aspect of Black America’s
still-gradual civil rights evolution.
Helgeland lets Ford/Rickey’s courage balance both the past era’s most
advanced attitudes and the modern audience’s guileless ignorance of
that history. The young Black actors–all ebullient, optimistic,
determined–represent Blacks’ hopes while the familiar Whites personify
fears. When 42 presents these details (as in Robinson and Reese‘s
on-field pantomime), it surpasses Steven Spielberg’s morally arrogant Lincoln with its too-modern token Blacks and deified politician.
a remarkable sequence of Robinson in the batter’s box being taunted by
the Philadelphia Phillies’ racist manager Ben Chapman (Alan Tudyk)
repeating only a few less N-bombs than Tarantino’s Django Unchained,
Rickey transforms the attack strategically, sympathetically. This
extraordinary assessment of how institutional racism was conquered by
American fellow-feeling outstrips all Tony Kushner’s fancy wordplay in Lincoln. It is the essence of compassion, not smug literariness. 42
puts social progress in humane terms–on the ball field. in splendid
deep-focus that keeps nature and human effort in lovely, balanced
Cinematographer Don Burgess makes 42 the most beautiful movie of 2013
so far. He photographs sunlight and water (when Robinson breaks before
Rickey or finally showers among his White teammates) with true radiance.
Nothing in Lincoln’s political contrivance is as resonant as
Rickey confessing “Something was wrong at the heart of the game I loved
and I had ignored it.” Kushner-Spielberg’s Lincoln never
admitted such sorrowful complex. Lincoln pretended that political
opposition was the essence of America’s moral progress when in fact it
was only a power struggle; 42 is deeper and more honest in displaying how Americans changed through accepting skill, humanity, sympathy.
Helgeland has made a film totally without cynicism (and it’s a better
approach to history than George Lucas’ lame Tuskegee Airman tribute Red Tails).
Cynicism is what ruined Lincoln; cynicism was at the core of Kushner
and Spielberg’s self-congratulatory warping of history–which was why
liberals overrated it. Will Obama-era audiences appreciate 42’s
richness with its deep understanding of how hard-won compassion has
greater everyday effectiveness than the rule of law? Its splendid
depiction of ball field effort? Or it’s unforgettable silhouetted
fatherly embrace? These images test fairness within the glory of nature
without the falsity of The Natural or Field of Dreams but like no movie since Robert Aldrich’s The Big Leaguer.
I’d like to describe more of 42’s wonderful scenes such as
the shots of Robinson rounding the bases, focused on his “42” uniform
imprint and its existentially connotation like a Bresson icon, but
viewers should discover such beauty for themselves. Rickey and Robinson
may have been spiritual visionaries, but in this film they unite over
the idea of being “built to last” by doing the right thing. Whatever 42’s fate in this cynical market, it is built to last.April 10, 2013 at 9:13 pm #69784
If only this came out later in the year, coulda been a contender.April 10, 2013 at 9:14 pm #69785
Could Harrison Ford get a Best Supporting Actor nomination and perhaps a win?April 11, 2013 at 6:57 am #69786
Every review I’ve seen so far points out how great Harrison Ford is in this. The early release date is going to be very hard to overcome, but he could be a contender.