Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Jackie Robinson Story/The Greatest

Oh hi. Sadly my DVD collection isn't getting better, it's getting worse. Here's a few films I use for late night viewing.

Slide, Jackie, Slide....

The Jackie Robinson Story- (1950) This "classic" tells the tale of baseball's first black player. As interesting as that concept is, the Jackie Robinson Story makes this milestone seem insanely uninteresting. Must be because of the lead actor, Jackie Robinson. To make matters worse the film gave Jackie the heavy lifting of playing himself as a teenager. Yeah, that worked out well..

Part 2: I have to admit, it was actually sad seeing Jackie in this movie. It was so corny. Despite his heroics in the field (and his stint as an editor on my blog) he had the presence of a doormat. The film does at least show how "fans" and players alike didn't make the early days with the Brooklyn Dodgers a happy one. Of course when Jackie was hitting homers and whatnot, he became their Bestest Friend Ever. This film has clearly kicked around distribution wise and is readily available.

Little Known Facts: Jackie took time out of the prime of his playing career to be in this hooey. Ruby Dee played his wife. Someone played Branch Rickey.

Oddly enough character actor Charles Lane oddly didn't make an appearance.

** 1/2

Muhammad Ali- The Greatest- (1978) This classic film's biggest selling point is the fact that Muhammad Ali was played by some actor named Muhammad Ali. For 90% of the movie, it's a complete mistake. Middle age paunchy had overtaken his boxer's frame. He also had a spaceyness about the eyes that says nothing but late '70s Ali. This is the Raid era for sure. Like many movies like this, the actor playing the younger Ali was sent packing with little fanfare and the genuine article appeared. Nice switch. Ali was around thirtysomething when this was filmed. Like Jackie Robinson, Ali played his much younger self in a guffaw worthy fashion.

The Biggest Problems: Many movies of this time, the film makers were lazy and scenes from the '60s were shoddily filmed, the styles were decidedly '70s and it might confuse a viewer. It probably confused Ali too. Even a cursory look at real footage of younger Ali jutaxposed to the trainwreck replication committed to film shows a stark differences between the two.

Conclusion: Muhammad Ali was ill-equipped to play, himself!

** 1/2
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