‘42’ is the magic number at the box office
The most relevant and powerful scenes in the new filP, “42,” DbRuW -DFNLH Robinson shattering the VR-FDllHG “FRlRU bDUULHU” WR bHFRPH WKH fiUVW AIULFDnAmerican to play major league baseball on April 15, 1947, hits a pitch that most of us can hear loud and clear: The determined and KRnHVW fiJKW IRU VHlI-wRUWK, dignity and fairness will sooner, or later, neutralize dogged hate, bigotry and ignorance — no matter what the odds or how far your climb might be.
AnG DlWKRuJK WKH flLFN that opened this month roared off with generally very good reviews and did extremely well at the box RIfiFH, D IHw FULWLFV wURWH LW wDV D bLW ”FRUny” DnG HYHn “VKDllRw.” 2nH UHYLHwHU described the movie as “VLPSlLVWLF” DnG WKH 5RbLnVRn FKDUDFWHU DV “RnH GLPHnVLRnDl.”
Nevertheless, I think Robinson is portrayed exquisitely by a relatively unknown black actor, Chadwick Boseman, a graduate of Howard University and the British American DraPDWLF AFDGHPy DW 2xIRUG University.
Plus, so many moments Ln WKH filP DUH WKRuJKW-SURvoking, even exhilarating.
The scenes of snarling Philadelphia fans and the racist Phillies’ manager William Benjamin Chapman, insulting gackie Robinson, juxtaposed with cheering black fans and little white and ebony boys emulating Robinson’s base-running were so engrossing. There were the scenes of Robinson’s white team members even petitioning against him, with only a couple having the early courage to stand by his side. That was even as the pioneering black ballplayer met persistent racial hatred and segregation on the road and bDllfiHlGV VRDNHG with the perverted gamesmanship of stomping cleats, spewing spit and whizzing 90-milean-hour balls thrown venomously at Robinson’s head.
Indeed, Robinson’s mental and physical prowess was surely legendary to withstand such torment and still perform as a champion.
There was even the total anguish Robinson displayed after leaving the fiHlG RI MHHULnJ wKLWHV Ln RuU VR-FDllHG “CLWy RI BURWKHUly LRYH” DnG bUHDNLnJ KLV bDW against the wall of an interior stadium hallway because he had promised the Dodgers’ executive Branch Rickey (powerfully depicted by veteran actor Harrison Ford) he would not retaliate against his persecutors.
It was then that Robinson really felt the meaning of his earlier promise to Rick- ey to have the strength not WR LnLWLDlly fiJKW bDFN.
,n IDFW, WKH filP’V PRVW redeeming message deals with the little-known story of a black sportswriter for The Pittsburgh Courier newspaper, Wendell Smith, supporting Robinson morally and otherwise during many early away games.
That was for the duraWLRn RI 5RbLnVRn’V fiUVW season after leaving the all-black Kansas City Monarchs following his recruitment by owner Branch Rickey for the minor league’s Montreal Royals and then the Brooklyn Dodgers to make history in 1947.
YRu VHH, WKH filP actually opens with Smith (portrayed by Andre Holland), who brilliantly covered baseball and Robinson for the nationally distributed newspaper, orally telling the ballplayer’s story while typing in the stands reserved for AfricanAmerican spectators on a manual typewriter. And as Smith poignantly told a bitter Robinson one evening as they escaped in a car from hostile whites in Florida, despite his anguish and suffering, it was imperative for Robinson to keep his cool and not spoil it for other blacks who might one day bHnHfiW — LnFluGLnJ 6PLWK.
The writer would in 1994 be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, despite his momentous and heroic support of an American hero being largely and sadly forgotten.
In many ways, Smith became Robinson’s primary support and friend, besides his lovely wife, Rachel, who at age 90 and four decades after her husband’s 1972 death from a heart attack at age 53, helped recently to advise the director, Brian Helgeland, and his young thespians.
The story’s impact, bolstered by its dazzling theme and the wonderful chemistry between Boseman (who played Robinson) and Nicole Beharie (depicting Rachel), was absorbing.
gust 28 years old, Beharie is a native of Florida, but was raised in South Carolina and now resides in Los Angeles, playing roles in such movies and television SURJUDPV DV “LDw & 2UGHU: 6SHFLDl 9LFWLPV 8nLW” DnG “7KH GRRG :LIH.”
The fact that both, as well as the dynamic sports reporter, Smith, were relatively unknown, adds to the filP’V unLYHUVDl WKHPH: 7KDW no matter who you are, or where you come from, if yRu fiJKW IRU wKDW LV ULJKW, you will ultimately prevail.
A Place in History Donald Scott