Jack Goes Confidential: ’42’ Faces Down ‘Boys Of Summer’ Racism

jackie-robinson-42Brian 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.”

harrison-ford-chadwick-bosemanEnter 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.

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8 Responses to Jack Goes Confidential: ’42’ Faces Down ‘Boys Of Summer’ Racism

  1. smartman says:

    This movie is gonna create some confusion since most teens know the N WORD as a term of endearment and not what some call the flash mobbers on the Plaza.

    Not to mention the irony of the strides that black baseball players made only to have the sport basically ignored by modern day blacks in favor of football or basketball. Most black kids under the age of 25 have no idea who Jackie Robinson was or what his contributions or accomplishments were to baseball or society.

    Supposedly KFC, Church’s and Popeye’s turned down promotional opportunities with this movie. They don’t want chicken perceived as a “black” thing. Good to know we’ve resolved the race issue with poultry. Now we can all live our lives without questioning the motivation of a chicken crossing the road.

    And what’s with the premier at the AMC up north in Cracker Land? Wouldn’t Ward Parkway have been more accomodating for people of color? Or was AMC concerned about a riot? Nah, that would be racist.

    • Jimmy G. says:

      smartman: “Most black kids under the age of 25 have no idea who Jackie Robinson was or what his contributions or accomplishments were to baseball or society.”

      I don’t know where you got that idea, but I worked for a few years with predominantly black Kansas City high schoolers, and I think you’re totally mistaken. Even in a world where what you said was correct, though, that would just be more of a reason for this movie to exist.

      I do agree that it’s an odd choice of theater, though. I’m planning on going to tonight’s show, and I hope to see a diverse crowd. But I think it would’ve been better if they showed it in the city and didn’t charge an arm and a leg for tickets. (I could see great national publicity if the studio paid everybody’s way for 20-ish auditoriums in KC, just for one night.)

      I did some cursory googling about the fried chicken promotions, but I couldn’t find anything. It sounds odd since this is Hollywood fare that tries to be more distinguished — as if Spielberg’s “Lincoln” were doing promotions with Burger King. Do you have a source for this, or are you just being a jerk?

  2. jon says:

    Smartman trying to be funny is scary. Based on Jack’s review it sounds like this is a film worth seeing. That’s exactly what’s on our agenda this weekend.

    • smartman says:

      I’m sure it’s a great movie. Given the timing it has to be viewed in historical context. Other than Jesse Owens I can’t think of any other black athlete that did more to shatter the color and race barrier than Jackie Robinson.

      That being said participation by blacks in MLB is only 7%. It’s an issue so disturbing that even MLB is doing a study to find out why despite the fact that the reasons are obvious.

      So while this movie should, or could be a launching pad for further discussions about race relations in the US methinks it will only be used to remember the past, much like The Help. I don’t think a lot of blacks kids will see the movie and say I wanna be like Jackie Robinson when it’s far more fashionable to wanna be like Mike or Kanye or Chris Brown.

      Jay Z and Mrs.Carter’s recent trip to Cuba and the recent rap he dropped about it are far more relevant to blacks than MLK and #42. That is a shame.

  3. jack p. says:

    Ok, so Barrywoods could be an odd choice for a big premiere. But think about it. It’s the closest major theater complex to KCI. Easy in and out for talent on a tight time schedule.
    I’m not saying that’s the case here. But it sure happened before.

  4. balbonis moleskine says:

    Hey Jack, what’s up with the premiers in KC recently? Is it just because of the tangental connection between Oz (Kansas) and 42/Jackie Robinson (played for monarchs)? Or part of a growing trend?

    As for 42, I’ll see it. There are so few good sports movies.

    I always thought the Roberto Clemente Story would make an amazing movie.

  5. jack p. says:

    First off the actual premiere of the movie took place earlier this week in Hollywood.
    So think of this one as a ‘secondary’ maybe?
    As to why Kansas City? Possibly because Legendary Pictures which produced the film has a close relationship with Wadell and Reed. And maybe one party nudged the other as to our Negroe Museum and Monarch’s history. And just possibly Legendary via Warner Brothers (the film’s distributor) saw a good promotional tie-in there? You think?

  6. StillAtMyMoms says:

    Why has there been a recent trend of villianizing whites in movies lately? I get it, black people endured a lot in the past. So did Native Americans, Latinos, and Asians. Why are they entitled recently? I was born way after all this shit went down. I shouldn’t feel guilty about it. It wasn’t my problem! And I’m sick of having bias when I fill out a job application as well. I know when I check “white” on the race portion of an app, my chances of receiving a callback have decreased dramatically. What I am trying to convey here is simply color SHOULD NOT be an issue. Blacks had an opportunity to be the bigger ones and move on with life despite what their ancestors endured. They shouldn’t rub it in our faces, especially my generation, and act like it’s “their time”.

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