A great story comes to life in “42,” a movie celebrating Jackie Robinson’s breaking of the baseball color barrier in 1947.
Chadwick Boseman plays Robinson, a cocky player in the Negro leagues who clearly loves the game.
Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) runs the Brooklyn Dodgers, and he’s decided it’s time for a black player to join Major League Baseball.
There’s a powerful scene early in the film when Rickey tells Robinson that he has to be strong enough to not fight back. That scene resonates throughout the movie, as Robinson endures verbal abuse and threats both on and off the field.
History records that Robinson was ultimately successful, so there’s no suspense there. The questions surround No. 42’s teammates and opponents, as well as fans in the stands. Are they going to come around? If so, when?
For long stretches of the story it seems as though Robinson’s only allies are his wife (Nicole Beharie), a black sports writer (Andre Holland) and Rickey.
But that’s not exactly true because African-American fans are there to cheer him on and balance out the hateful jeers from white faces in the crowd.
The movie shows Robinson’s courage under fire, and gives the audience a glimpse of how the swirling tornado of attention affects him.
There are times when the movie slows to a crawl, but even these two or three scenes play against the compelling backdrop that is Robinson’s story.
I found the film deeply moving at times, when on-screen emotion scored direct hits in the real world. Something as simple as a black player tossing a ball to a black kid packs a wallop.
With cracks of the bat and dirt on home plate, baseball has a starring role in “42.” The movie puts computer-generated effects to good use to recreate old-time stadiums, including Ebbets Field in Brooklyn.
This is a good movie and a great story. I give “42” an A.
It’s showing at the Cinemark in Tupelo, as well as Malcos in Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville, and Movie Reel 4 in New Albany.
Kelli Karlson with Wizard 106.7 gives “42” an A.
"I love a movie that makes me cry, and this one made me squall."
Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.
M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal