This DVD showcases two vintage film biographies of the greatest African American sports superstars of their day, Jackie Robinson and Joe Louis. The Jackie Robinson Story is unusual in that Robinson portrays himself, and t... more »he movie was produced in 1950, barely three years after he took up his position at second base for the Brooklyn Dodgers and broke the "color line" in professional baseball. After providing a fast portrayal of Robinson's early life, up to his collegiate sports career at UCLA and his stint in the U.S. Army, the story turns serious when Branch Rickey offers him a contract to play for a Brooklyn Dodgers farm team. Interestingly, some of the scenes, such as an incident when Robinson and his teammates were locked out of a stadium at a spring training game in Florida, may have more impact with viewers today than when the film was first released. The 1953 biographical film about boxing legend Joe Louis features actor Coley Wallace in the title role, and is somewhat remarkable because the portrait of Louis is not entirely complimentary. Though a great fighter and a hero to black Americans, Louis had lifelong problems handling his money, and that aspect of his life is part of the screenplay. These films provide credible, if somewhat simplistic, portrayals of Robinson and Louis, but they are perhaps most remarkable for delivering a strong message about racial equality a full decade before the Civil Rights Movement would galvanize America. --Robert J. McNamara« less
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 10/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A riveting, inspiring piece of American history, seeing the legendary Jackie Robinson play himself is a rare experience; a man who did so much to change the face of segregation, with enormous courage and extraordinary talent. This is a film everyone, young and old, black and white, should see. Buy it, keep it, give it as a gift. This film is a treasure, even for those of us who are not baseball fans, and like me, don't really understand the game...this film is about so much more...it is the portrait of an era, and the man who was able to make a difference.
Jackie Robinson has a beauty in his face, and is a charismatic screen presence. He is backed by some excellent actors, like Ruby Dee, who plays Rae, his wife, and Minor Watson, terrific as Branch Rickey, who was president of The Brooklyn Dodgers, and also an interesting character. Rickey made a judgement call to hire Jackie, and was proved right, despite much opposition. Humor is provided by the very funny Ben Lessy as Shorty.
The film starts with Robinson as a young boy, through his college years at UCLA, and his time with the Panthers, an all-black team, then a stint in the military during WWII, and later trying to get a job as a coach, with no results. Robinson of course suffered endless slurs and hatred in the early years with the Dodgers. Mr. Rickey made Robinson promise that he would never fight back when insulted, and even hit, and Robinson replied, "Mr. Rickey, I have two cheeks".
The first game he played with "organized baseball" was in 1946, and changed sports history, and a hero was born. God bless Jackie Robinson, for all he did for sports, and all he achieved for humanity. With well paced direction by Alfred E. Green, a nice somewhat corny but appropriate score by Herschel Burke Gilbert, and the great Ernest Laszlo did the cinematography, which captures the enthusiasm of the game. Total running time is 77 minutes. "
Pass it on
Wallace J. Greene | San Diego, Ca USA | 09/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a very heartwarming story of perseverance by one of the best ball players of the era. A model citizen in a difficult position, Jackie shows all of us how to respond to adversity and prejudice. I bought this DVD for my son. In case you didn't notice this is the only DVD of this movie with close-captioning AND a color option."
Jackie Robinson DVD Breaks the COLOR Barrier!
JPL | California | 06/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What an inspirational movie! Jackie Robinson stars as himself in this entertaining sports and family classic. It chronicles his life, from youth, through his college career at UCLA, to his rise to legend with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Jackie triumphs over racial injustices and emerges as nothing less than one of America's true heroes. If you have a child playing baseball, or any sport, The Jackie Robinson Story is an important film for them to watch.
Presented in color for the first time and beautifully restored, this is the definitive DVD edition of The Jackie Robinson Story. Released in conjunction with The Jackie Robinson Foundation which benefits education for gifted students."
Not just a film, this is living history
Brian Hulett | Oinklahoma | 09/25/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"How do you rate Americana on a scale of 1 to 5 stars? It ain't easy, especially when the subject is one of the most special films in history, with Jackie Robinson starring as himself, the first African-American to have a successful major league baseball career since the major leagues themselves were in their early days. Complicating that is the fact that the film itself would be really quite poor if not for this subject matter, as several athletes and sports people are seen playing characters in the film. With more professional actors the story would have been portrayed more vividly.
Regardless, this is a gripping history piece that records several very important things for posterity. The horrifying level of racism undergone by the gallant Robinson and other black ballplayers in the 1940s was the same racism undergone by other African-Americans across the US, but when Branch Rickey, owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, decided it was time to give a black man a shot in the majors, it seemed that all of the baseball fans, management, and players were against the two of them. This the story of what Robinson went through, and how Rickey championed his cause, giving him the correct advice of "Don't fight back." This MLK/Gandhi approach worked because Robinson had the character to make it work, was a likeable man, a great ballplayer, and, as one of the characters in the film points out, "He's a gentleman too."
This story screams for a modern remake, one that would be done with a passion for historical accuracy and first-rate motion picture style. As it is, this now ancient "B" movie is in the public domain, with several different companies offering the title in DVD or VHS. The quality of the picture is therefore grainy and choppy, being cheaply copied from old celluloid. Actually the public domain status has probably saved this precious history from a horrible fate, as the quality of the production is quite low and demand for the film apparently not high, so that anyone who owned a copyright on it might not find it financially feasible to put out on DVD. In the public domain nobody has to paid for the rights to issue a video or DVD, so it's more readily available.
Minor Watson steals the show as Rickey, showing fire and passion in regard to giving Robinson a fair chance when the rest of the baseball world wanted to shut out a black man. As for Robinson himself, well, as an actor he's a great athlete, but it's pure joy to watch him show what a fine talent he was, and Ruby Dee is more than adequate as his wife. Some of the supporting cast, especially ballplayers who are supposed to be furious and threatened at Robinson's presence, have no more acting ability than a third-grader in a Christmas pageant.
The story is watered down for a 1950 audience, but much of what Robinson went through was surely R-rated. A modern retelling would be wonderful to see, but will never replace this important piece of sports history, African-American history, and World War II era history. Must see."
He broke down all the barries, But they failed to break him
Brian Hulett | 09/20/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This vintage film biography of Jackie Robinson traces his career from the Negro Leagues to the major league, and of cource, he was the first to break the "color line" in malor league baseball. An intriguing aspect of this docudrama, was that Jackie Robinson played himself. Also, the fantastic Ruby Dee was excellent in the role of Rachel Robinson, Jackie's wife. Wonderful portrayals, along with deep heart-felt emotions make this an excellent film, that is as timely today, as when it took place."