The Jackie Robinson Story gives the title star his own inspirational movie
Continuing to review African-Americans in film in chronological order for Black History Month, we're now at 1950 when the first black to play baseball in the major leagues, Jackie Robinson, stars in his own life story in a motion picture made three years after becoming a player in the Brooklyn Dodgers. Since he's basically playing himself, he doesn't need scenes that challenge him, just recite lines that I'm sure were written in a way to make things easy to remember. We're not meant to be impressed by his acting, anyway, but his athleticism whether catching balls, throwing them, or especially hitting them. No, the real acting challenge came to Minor Watson who-as the actual President of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey-has to present authority and conviction as someone who truly believes in baseball as the democratic sport meant to give fair chances to all Americans of all races and creeds, which was convincing enough to me. So on that note, The Jackie Robinson Story was an inspirational enough movie that can still touch some heartstrings, old-fashioned though some of it may be. P.S. Since it is Black History Month, I'd like to note some of the supporting performers that happen to be people of color: first off, there's Ruby Dee as Jackie's wife, Rae, in one of her earliest roles. Then there's Louise Beavers, who I last saw in the 1934 Imitation of Life back in 2008 when I last did similar reviews for BHM, as Jackie's mother. Both are adequate enough in their parts. The others-Bernie Hamilton as Ernie-a player for the Panthers, Mildred Boyd as a roommate of Rae, Howard Louis MacNeely playing Jackie as a boy, and Kenny Washington as the Tigers manager. He was previously a halfback for the Los Angeles Rams. Two more worth mentioning: Roy Glenn as attorney Mr. Gaines. He would later appear in "Amos 'n' Andy", Carmen Jones, and "The Jack Benny Program" among other movies and TV shows for the next 21 years. And, last but not least, Joel Fluellen as Jackie's older brother Mack. He was born in Monroe in my home state of Louisiana.
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