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Mainstream - The Jackie Robinson Story starring Jackie Robinson

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The Jackie Robinson Story
Jackie Robinson, Ruby Dee, Minor Watson
Black and White / Fullscreen
Originally released 1950
MGM 2009
77 minutes

It is a good thing The Jackie Robinson Story is a pretty decent movie that tells a good story honestly. It is fairly obvious this baseball movie starring Jackie Robinson was made for a quick buck. It is just as obvious this DVD release is also out to make a quick buck. How else do you explain the unrestored VHS quality print and the lack of any special feature? Oh, well.

If you are a baseball fan or interested in Black American history, The Jackie Robinson Story DVD is more than just a curiosity. There is also a didactic use for this movie and as such, it is just long enough and interesting enough to do the job it is supposed to do.

This is not a cinematic classic but The Jackie Robinson Story does have its moments. There are a few funny baseball scenes here and there and the movie does not forget the racism Robinson was still facing at the time the movie was made (and would face for a long time to come). It is usually on the subtle side but not always so.  

It takes about a minute for Robinson to graduate, a minute for WW II to be over, and another for him to get a job with the Black Panthers baseball team. It takes a little longer for him to get the attention of a Brooklyn Dodgers scout and get to the Montreal Royals training camp. This is where the movie gets interesting.

The movie has a story to tell and tells it well. Jackie Robinson was not as good an actor as he was a ball player but he does a pretty good if very low key job playing himself.

It is very odd to see the umpire standing behind the pitcher to call balls and strikes. Look for ’67 Red Sox and later Montreal Expos manager Dick Williams in a small role. UCLA coach Bill Spaulding also plays himself.

It seems Major League Baseball was not behind The Jackie Robinson Story, how else do you explain the generic adversaries the Brooklyn Dodgers are always facing.

The Jackie Robinson Story DVD is being rereleased by MGM as part of a series titled A History of Determination. Other films include Chisholm ’72, Muhammad Ali aka Cassius Clay, and King, the Martin Luther King made for TV movie starring Paul Winfield and Cicely Tyson.

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