In 1945, the world of baseball was divided between the Majors and the Negro Leagues - but the time has come for change. Will Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson or Jackie Robinson be the first to take the field in the Majors?
Eric C. from PHILADELPHIA, PA Reviewed on 5/25/2011...
Love this movie.....no one does sports better than HBO
Well acted, wholly inaccurate.
bigd911 | Pittsburgh, PA United States | 04/04/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This movie was very well acted and very entertaining. However, being a huge baseball fan who has done extensive research and is very interested in Negro League history, this movie is very inaccurate. The portrayal of jackie Robinson is closest, but Josh and Satch are way off, even if you go by their legends rather than accounts. Satch was a renowned carouser and was not close friends with Jackie or Josh. Also, they don't even mention Larry Doby (the first black player in the American League, a couple months after Jackie). All in all, an entertaining movie, unless, like me, you're interested in learning about Jackie breaking the famed "color barrier" and what the Negro Leagues were really like."
Characters, not accuracy make this movie wonderful
Douglas B. Rubin | Princeton, NJ United States | 04/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sticklers for accuracy will find this movie lacking as the paths of Jackie Robinson, Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige weren't as well intertwined as the movie suggests. The connection with Willie Mays is an interesting, meaningful plot connection . . . and extremely hard to believe.
Still, the acting and film/myth making is perfect for this most important story of "America growing up." The pace of the film, keyed by a jumpy-jazz soundtrack fits with exuberance of the post-war, "time to get moving" era. A cross-country automobile trip juxtaposes the new (a new class of prosperous African-Americans with their shiny automobile) with the old (not able to use a toilet in a small town).
The many changes of the era are used to tell the story -- the challenge of professional baseball to stay profitable, what to do about "negros" (who had just fought with distinction for world democracy) made something, somehow inevitable.
Josh Gibson was the great slugger (the "Negro Babe Ruth" he was called), although by 1946 was fading due to age and a brain tumor. Satchel Paige was (one of?) the greatest pitcher ever and was a great box office draw.
The story turns on Branch Rickey's selfish, sneaky, and noble plan to integrate baseball. The City was right (Brooklyn - the melting pot); the politics were right (Fiorella LaGuardia appealed to minorities and Happy Chandler, the new baseball commissioner, had stated his openness to integration); the ownership was right (Rickey had played baseball on an integrated team in college); and of course, Jackie Robinson was the right man.
Rickey is portrayed by the statesman-like Ed Hermann. The famous meeting where he explains to Jackie Robinson that he requires his pioneer to be strong enough to "not fight back" is portrayed with the subdued importance that's required. Robinson's background (an officer in the Army, a star halfback with UCLA) is portrayed convincingly by Blair Underwood.
Delroy Lindo is a bit too serious, and too devoted to his wife, not to mention possessing too broad a body, to make me believe that he's Satchel Paige. Still, he plays the part of the superstar pitcher with the big ego that's required.
I have no idea if Mykelti Williamson's portrayal of Josh Gibson is realistic, but it's delightful, poignant and ultimately tragic.
Rickwood Field (Birmingham) and League Stadium (built for "Field of their Own" in Indiana) add another touch of colorful, enjoyable non-realism to the story.
Enjoy the myth, but don't make any bar bets based on this film.
Probably the movie I enjoy rewatching the most
R. Spell | Memphis, TN USA | 08/20/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a great movie! It overlays the tale of Jackie Robinson, Josh Gibson and Satch Paige and the race to get in the big leagues. It is historically accurate in general, or at least as accurate as the embellished stories that have been passed down can be.I enjoyed the performances of the three main characters, but particularly loved Delroy Lindo's portrayl of Satch Paige. He was "over-the-top" showing how Satch worked the crowd and did what was necessary to draw crowds to the game. Having read a biography of Josh Gibson's, that actors physical characteristics and portrayl matched what I had previously read about perfectly.I rate movies on two main criteria: 1. Do I learn something from the movie, and 2. Does it emotionally attach me to the story. I score this movie highly on both points. While it is not a big budget movie, it accurately gives you a feel of the old Negro league games and the problems faced. But this movie really scores for "emotionally" involving you in the story. From the bigoted southern girl selling fruit to the decision on who would finally play in the majors. My personal favorite is how they overlayed Willie Mays in the story. The Willie Mays finale sends chills up my spine on the handshake every time.Watch this movie and you will not be disappointed. Proof that a great movie can be made without a monster budget."
Douglas B. Rubin | 06/15/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Another great movie by HBO. I orginally saw this movie on TV. I realized that this is a must have. I am not a real big baseball fan but this movie took me though a very interesting time period in US history. I even decided to show this movie to my students as part of an interdisiplinary lesson. This film kept me and 50 8th graders engaged for the full 2 hours! (Just make sure you edit out one or two of the curse words depending upon how liberal your school district)"