Brian Helgeland understand the art of masterful writing having scripted such compelling films as L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, MYSTIC RIVER and MAN ON FIRE...
Now with ’42’ Helgeland takes on racism in America by basing his latest screenplay on true events—specifically those of one Jack Robinson who broke the color barrier in Major league Baseball.
Helgeland also directed the biopic.
The year is 1947 when Brooklyn Dodgers legendary president and general manager Branch Rickey makes baseball history.
Against all odds and advice from friends, associates—even the baseball commissioner—he breaks the infamous color line.
Why did he do it?
He needed strength on the team to win the pennant and was willing to bolster his lineup with whomever could get it done. No matter what his color.
“Every dollar is green.”
Enter Jack Robinson who’s touring the country with the Kansas City Monarchs baseball club, with plenty of segragation experiences along those long bus trips.
But damn he was good.
Good enough for Rickey to give him a shot with his farm club, the Montreal Royals.
And sure enough, despite the cat calls and all, Robinson’s talent propelled him to the big time with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Was it easy for Robinson to pull it off? Hell no. It was an ongoing process of biting his lips and letting the slurs and insults slide off him.
Needless to say it took tremendous courage and restraint NOT to act in kind.
After all Rickey had laid it all out from the start: “I want a player who’s got the guts not to fight back…the guts to turn the other cheek.”
And make no mistake, those racial insults came from all directions. Not just the public, but also the press and even from other players on the team.
“Almost super human, it’s still a nigger out there.”
Robinson—even Rickey—were smack dab in the firing line.
The rest is history as # 42 ultimately won over the fans and his teammates. He silenced the critics and paved the way for the future by changing the game of baseball.
Chadwick Boseman delivers a most convincing performance as Jackie Robinson while Harrison Ford has a solid grasp of Branch Rickey….with a twinkle in his eyes.
A note to fans considering taking their kids to see this PG-13 rated film:
Be aware that the word “nigger” is thrown around quite freely. It may be wise to forewarn young ones accordingly and discuss the reason for the racism behind it. It may help prevent you from squirming in your seat when the N-word starts hitting the fan.
“42”—a 2:08 hour long entertaining and inspirational morality play of an American legend. I’m pitching 4 out of 5 fingers.
JACK GOES TO THE MOVIES: Friday’s at 6:40 a.m. and 8:40 a.m. on KMBZ FM and AM / Also anytime on Time-Warner Cable’s K.C. ON DEMAND, Channel 411 / And throughout Nebraska on NEBRASKA ON DEMAND.