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Fear Strikes Out
Fear Strikes Out
Actors: Anthony Perkins, Karl Malden, Norma Moore, Adam Williams, Perry Wilson
Director: Robert Mulligan
Genres: Classics, Drama, Sports
NR     2003     1hr 40min

Jim Piersall is groomed by his loving but hard-driving father (living vicariously through his son) to play major league baseball. His desire to succeed to please his father leads to mental illness and a nervous breakdown. ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Anthony Perkins, Karl Malden, Norma Moore, Adam Williams, Perry Wilson
Director: Robert Mulligan
Creators: Haskell B. Boggs, Aaron Stell, Alan J. Pakula, Al Hirshberg, Jimmy Piersall, Raphael Blau, Ted Berkman
Genres: Classics, Drama, Sports
Sub-Genres: Classics, Classics, Family Life, Baseball
Studio: Paramount
Format: DVD - Black and White,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 03/04/2003
Original Release Date: 01/01/1957
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1957
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 40min
Screens: Black and White,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

A remarkable portrait of a famous sports personality
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If you're looking for a baseball film solely dedicated to the playing of the sport by the central figure of this film, pass it up. But if you are looking for an intimate, psychologically complex portrait of a famous sports personality as a human being and not a mythic figure, you happened upon the right film. The film is not about how Piersall's talent for baseball was discovered or how his technique broke ground in the field, but rather it is a universal exposition of the steps through which a father's desire for his son to succeed where he failed turn into a desire to live vicariously through the child's glory and the damaging emotional repercussions that it has on the child, as well as the steps back to a normal life. Anthony Perkins turns in what is truly a brilliant performance. The pain he registers has rarely if ever been equalled by another actor alive or dead, and he is almost unbearably poignant in every scene without ever pandering to cheap bathos or melodramatic fits of tears. The pain we see is genuine and haunting, something that radiates from his eyes and his voice and his presence, not from "technique". His expressive face conveys the anguish of a deeply tortured psyche, vacillating from the shy charm he exudes in courting Norma Moore, to the eruption of his lifelong pain heaped upon him by his tyrannical father when he tearfully tells him of how his efforts to help him only hurt him, and to the moments when he cracks up, when either splitting the wood of a door in anger with his fists, or swinging a bat violently after hitting a homerun asking "Was I good enough?". It is one of the greatest performances ever recorded on film, from an actor renowned only for his role in a certain Hitchcock film I'm sure you are all familiar with. Karl Malden transcends the potentially one-dimensionality of his role as the tyrannical father, making it clear that Father Piersall did what he did not only out of a hope that he could achieve the glory he never got in baseball through his son, but that he did it out of love as much as anything else. The rest of the cast is quite fine as well. The details of a delicate psyche under stress is of the utmost importance in this film, as opposed to the details of how Piersall became a great ball player, and that is why it so remarkable. You shouldn't miss this"
A Perfect Bookend to "Field of Dreams"
mjb211 | 05/11/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"For every person who has a warm fuzzy memory of playing catch with Dad, there is the ying-yang expereince of those abused by fathers living vicariously through their sons' little league experiences. Such is the essence of "Fear Strikes Out".
I first saw this movie on late night TV about 20 years ago. It scared the bejeezus out of me. Carl Malden gave a truly frightening performance. However, he was matched scene-for-scene by Anthony Perkins. I remember one early scene in the movie where young Jimmy Piersall is playing catch, rather poorly, with his father. Carl starts yelling. I was getting a pain in the pit of my stomach. Young Jimmy goes behind a shed, I think, to fish out the passed ball he just missed. Tony Perkins stops, his face contorted in angst. This scene stayed with me much like the Flying Monkees in the "Wizard of Oz" or the head-turning scene in "The Exorcist".Every little league dad should be forced to this film at the start of every season!"
Pretty good movie about baseball, and then some.
Benito Vasquez | Naperville, Il | 10/13/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Karl Malden and Anthony Perkins make a good pair for the father and son Piersall in this movie. Malden had a slew of movies like this where he played a heavy, in this flick the domineering dad that sends Perkins over the edge. And to say Perkins isn't Gary Cooper or Piersall not Gehrig. Well, duh! Not the point of this movie to make a warm loving character study as that of Gehrig in "Pride of the Yankees." And in that effort this movie is totally successful. Not all baseball stories end in warm touching moments, or the game winning walk-off home run that sends the fans a frenzy. Malden is excellent as Piersall's dad. And Perkins plays an edgy Piersall that can only garner the empathy of the viewing audience. I pesonally asked Jimmy Piersall if ths movie was an accurate depiction of how things actually occurred. He responded by saying that everything except for the scene where he climbed the backstop- the scene where he went over the edge and on his way to treatment- was pretty much on the money. And he said so with the humility that only Jimmy Piersall could respond with. He also chuckled when i asked if there was a deleted scene where Malden stopped him on his way out the door and said, "Jimmy. Here's your glove. Don't leave home without it." All that aside, this is a good movie, albeit an uncomfortable one to watch."
Fear Strikes Out
John Farr | 08/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Perkins plays young Pearsall with just the right vulnerability, and Malden does a breathtaking turn as his driven Dad. An over-looked classic from young Mulligan, who'd go on to direct "To Kill A Mockingbird" five years later."