42–Movie Review

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4.5 Stars

42 PosterThe move 42 (IMDB) begins with the disclaimer “Based on a true story” which is commonly a bad sign. However this movie sticks pretty close to the facts–a good idea since the facts in this case would be difficult to improve on.

“42” was the number worn by Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman), the first African American to play Major League Baseball in the modern era. He was an extremely talented all-around baseball player, noted particularly for his base-stealing abilities. He was also noted for his gentlemanly demeanor and his refusal to be provoked by the repeated racial abuse that he had to endure.

It would be easy to fall into the trap of portraying such a legendary character as a saint but the movie does a good of showing him as a human being–a human being who had to work very hard to control his temper under extreme provocation, but who had the strength and determination to rise above it and get his revenge by playing great baseball.

Harrison Ford almost steals the movie as Branch Rickey, the President and General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers who signed Robinson in 1947, a time when no one else dared to challenge the unwritten rule against hiring black players. Rickey was a colorful character, a canny old man who did a lot to shape the game of baseball as it currently exists.