The main problem with all sports movies is the usually inaccurate depiction of the sport itself... Hollywood has a problem with getting the background athletics and their nuances just right...
This is not a major offense of "42"---the Jackie Robinson story. They do the base-running scenes pretty well. Football fans may not know it, but Jackie Robinson was a runner---he played QB and running back at both Pasadena Junior College and UCLA. He was also a world-class long-jumper. In fact, baseball was his "worst sport" in college.
The way he ran the bases was maybe the biggest part of his calling card to getting signed to the major league baseball organization in 1945 by the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The movie is true to this important biographical fact. For that alone, I say it's okay to buy a ticket to see "42" in its premier theatrical run...
I went out to see "42" expecting the worst. And yes, there are mawkish moments when the soundtrack music swells up and the camera points up at Jackie and we are basically being told "Take off your hats, this is a heroic moment and a heroic man"... Oh I hate those contrived moments and phony musical soundtracks!
But allowing for those few maudlin insanities, it's a pretty good sports movie...
My biggest problem will be somehow apologizing to the masses for the fact that one of the biggest racial tormentors of Robinson when he broke into the big leagues in 1947 was the Phillies organization, led by Negro-hater and southern redneck Ben Chapman, the Phillies' manager at the time.
Chapman's Phillies were not the only NL team to oppose integration – several Dodger players had allegedly tried to petition management to keep him off the team – but during an early-season series in Brooklyn, the level of verbal abuse directed by Chapman and his players at Robinson reached such proportions that it made headlines in the New York and national press. Chapman instructed his pitchers, whenever they had a 3-0 count against Robinson, to bean him rather than walk him.
Chapman's attempts to intimidate Robinson eventually backfired, with the Dodgers rallying behind their teammate, and there was increased sympathy for him in many circles. The backlash against Chapman was so severe that he was asked to pose in a photograph with Robinson as a conciliatory gesture when the two teams next met in Philadelphia in May. This incident prompted Robinson's teammate Dixie Walker to comment, "I never thought I'd see old Ben eat shit like that."
Robinson went on to stardom and a ten-year career, a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and a revered position in American sporting and civil rights circles. Chapman's baseball career, however, was coming to an end. He survived the 1947 season, but the Phillies fell to seventh place. In July 1948, with the team still in seventh, Chapman was fired and eventually replaced by Eddie Sawyer. He would surface one more time in the majors, as a coach for the 1952 Cincinnati Reds.
Chapman's career major league managing record was 196-276 (.415). He died of a heart attack at age 84 at his home in Hoover, Alabama.
And so it went down, and so it goes...
Brent Lang of Yahoo.com had a concise review of the film which matches what I saw:
"42," the new story of how Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color line, is connecting with critics.
"The film, which stars Harrison Ford as executive Branch Rickey and newcomer Chadwick Boseman as the man himself, debuts Friday, and has earned strong notices. "42" received a solid 73 percent fresh rating from critics aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, with many reviewers singling out Boseman for particular praise."
In TheWrap, Alonso Duralde faulted the film for "soft-peddling" the uglier side of America's post-World War II racism, but said overall the film is an inspiring portrait of one of the sport's seminal moments.
"'42' is a fairly slick confection, but it wisely avoids hagiography, mostly sticking to the facts in telling a compelling story about a truly extraordinary man," Duralde writes. "It's by no means the final word on the subject of Jackie Robinson (or baseball, or race relations), but it's a dazzling celebration of genuine daring."
For Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly, "42" is an old-fashioned story, but one that doesn't suffer from sticking with a traditional approach to storytelling. He was quite taken with Ford's work, noting that it was a departure for the action-movie icon.
"As Rickey, a stogie-chomping grump with a heart of gold, Harrison Ford seems to have reinvented himself as an actor," he writes. "He gives an ingeniously stylized cartoon performance, his eyes atwinkle, his mouth a rubbery grin, his voice all wily Southern music, though with that growl of Fordian anger just beneath it."
A.O. Scott, writing in the New York Times, faulted the film for ironing out some of the pricklier historical details in the service of making Robinson's story more accessible. Yet he did note that the film remains an entertaining and vital lesson for fans of the sport who may be unfamiliar with Robinson's heroism.
"In other hands - Spike Lee's, let's say, or even Clint Eastwood's - '42' might have taken a tougher, more contentious look at the breaking of Major League Baseball's color barrier," Scott writes. "But Helgeland, whose previous directing credits include 'Payback' and 'A Knight's Tale' (and who wrote 'Blood Work' and 'Mystic River,' speaking of Clint Eastwood), has honorably sacrificed the chance to make a great movie in the interest of making one that is accessible and inspiring."
Rex Reed of the New York Observer groused that the film was overly slick, but still found much to admire beneath the polished veneer.
"It's a good enough biopic to make you wish it were a better motion picture," Reed writes.
Dana Stevens was not a fan of the sanitized heroics on display in the film. In her review inSlate, she griped that films like "The Help" and "42" continue a troubling trend of having white filmmakers depict painful moments in black history.
"I don't mean to impugn the motives behind those who make films like '42': There's no problem, in principle, with a white filmmaker making a movie about a black cultural hero, or vice versa," Stevens writes. "But if we're going to have a conversation about race in America, I'd rather it revolve around the awkward, even offensive Brad Paisley/LL Cool J collaboration 'Accidental Racist' than around the sanitized pieties of a movie like 42, which tiptoes so reverently around its subject it leaves no room for accidents at all."
Like Stevens, Variety's Scott Foundas lamented that "42" comes gift-wrapped in hagiography, with nary a trace of Robinson's private demons or tortured relationship with his barrier-breaking legacy.
"A movie about Robinson isn't obliged to be dark or edgy, but for all of '42''s' self-conscious monument building, the cumulative effect is to render its subject markedly smaller and more ordinary than he actually was."
All I can tell you is the book is better, but the movie ain't all that bad... it's better than the average sports hero biofilm because of the athletic realism and the authenticity of period background details...and while Chadwick Boseman obviously worked out hard to be in top athletic shape to play the part of Robinson, Harrison Ford steals the show as GM Branch Rickey. Who knew Ford would evolve into a great character actor?
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Unlike the Phillies, the Eagles never had a real "color issue" with bringing in talented young players. But it wasn't until 1952 that the Eagles signed their first "Negro" player.. A case could be made that Jackie Robinson's success in breaking the color barrier in modern-era baseball made it a lot easier for the NFL to begin signing African-American talent without fear of reprisal from white fans en masse...
Ralph Goldston of Youngstown State was the first black player for the Eagles in 1952. AT 5-11 and 195, Goldston played both running back and defensive back. He was a number 125 overall pick in the 1952 Draft.
He played four seasons for the Eagles. Goldston then played nine seasons for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Canadian Football League. He helped the Tiger-Cats to two Grey Cup wins in 1957 and 1963. He was a 4-time all-star with the Ti-Cats, intercepting 32 passes and returning them for 416 yards. Goldston finished his career with the Montreal Alouettes in 1965. . After retiring as an active player, Goldston spent 30 years as a college coach (Harvard and Colorado) and finally a scout for the Seattle Seahawks.
Goldston died in 2011.
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General manager Howie Roseman and new coach Chip Kelly have options. They have plenty of them when combining the uncertainty of this year's draft with the current roster at their disposal.
"Going into free agency and hitting on some needs, some areas that we thought we needed to address, leaves us open to hitting on the best player with the fourth pick," Roseman said.
The Eagles have been adamant about picking the best player available (BPA). Roseman and owner Jeffrey Lurie admitted that is where things went wrong at the end of the Andy Reid era.
This year the BPA could mean an offensive lineman. It could mean a quarterback. It could mean a pass rusher, defensive lineman or somebody in the secondary. The Eagles could use players just about everywhere, but don't need players anywhere in order to field a respectable team this season.
Of course, there are some positions where their first-round pick would slide directly into the starting lineup or play larger roles. Here's how NJ.com currently reads the biggest opportunity job openings for the 2013 Eagles:
Offensive Guard/Offensive Tackle
Right now Danny Watkins appears to be the Eagles' starting right guard by default. Julian Vandervelde and Dallas Reynolds sit as the other options with Todd Herremans still presumed as the right tackle. Watkins is the same player that lost his starting job to a veteran off the street (Jake Scott) and was inactive the final two games of last season. Herremans is coming off a serious and "rare" injury. Left tackle Jason Peters (Achilles) didn't play a snap last year. So the Eagles have no right guard and two tackles coming off injury. They don't currently have a single proven commodity waiting in the wings. Even King Dunlap is gone. He signed with the Chargers this offseason. Whether it's a veteran in free agency or a top prospect in the draft, the Eagles need an infusion of talent and depth on their offensive line. It doesn't matter whether it's at guard or tackle. They need a strong contingency plan so a repeat of last year (48 sacks allowed, fifth-worst in the NFL) doesn't happen.
The Eagles are switching to some sort of 3-4 defensive alignment. That's been obvious ever since Chip Kelly's arrived. It became fact when they signed nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga at the start of free agency. With Fletcher Cox penciled in as one of the starting defensive ends, there's a gaping void on the other side. The options appear to be Cedric Thornton and Vinny Curry, who is attempting to bulk up and play the foreign position after being a pass-rushing end throughout his college and pro career. The Eagles tried to sign Desmond Bryant and Ricky Jean-Francois in free agency to start at defensive end opposite Cox. Both were deemed too expensive. Now the options are to find a suitable player in the draft or sign a veteran (players like former Patriots and Raiders DE Richard Seymour are still available) on the secondary free-agent market next month.
This is really the biggest and most important need to the Eagles if they want to be Super Bowl contenders with Kelly as their coach. They need a quarterback to build the team around. It's obvious Michael Vick, 32, is not that player long-term and there are concerns about Nick Foles' operating in Kelly's offense. Roseman admitted after the dismissal of Reid the two most important jobs for the organization were to find a coach and quarterback that could lead the franchise. The coach is in place. Now it's time to find that quarterback. And since they aren't going to find that type of player in free agency, it's up to the draft for Kelly and the Eagles to land their future franchise quarterback.
DDD's Reader Poll: What Is Best Option For Round 1? (278 respondents)---
Stay at 4, take best on board 65.47%
Move down, get more picks 29.5%
Trade pick for veteran player 4.32%
Get out of first round entirely 1%
Try to trade to top of draft 0%
All of this intrigue will play out soon enough.