|Index||5 reviews in total|
This was one of the most beautifully narrated picture of "real"
baseball as it was before it became a game of mediocre, millionaire
imitations. The home movies of some of the outstanding ball players (who,
unfortunately, will never be equalled was a joy to behold. Just seeing
of these men---my boyhood heroes---brought me to tears.
It was beautifully produced. I taped it to save forever.
I am of the age where I do not remember these players when they were playing but I my father remembered all these guys and it brings back wonderful memories of him talking about these players and going to games as a kid with him. I still get a nice feeling when I go to a game but I think it would have been really special to have gone to a game when these guys played. My father grew up in New York and he used to tell about this Polo Ground, Ebbets Field and Yankee Stadium. He loved the game until the day he passed away but I am sure he had special feelings about those early days. It was very emotional for me me to see guys like Joe DiMaggio, Hank Greenberg, Bob Feller, etc, and to hear from announcers like Red Barber and Mel Allen. A wonderful documentary
Play ball! There's a saying: a picture is worth a thousand words and nowhere is this saying more apropos than in this documentary. Containing remarkable footage, this documentary chronicles an era in baseball that also reveals much about American society in a bygone time. Baseball was really special; going to a ballgame was a big deal, a major social event. The players were larger than life. They played in ballparks that were like cathedrals - to a sport. Far from being bandboxes, the old ballparks, which were once new ballparks, were huge, sprawling structures, places that projected an aura of greatness that made one feel that they were witnessing a major historical event. And what made it even more special was that each game WAS a major historical event. Every game was an expression of American culture. Every game made an indelible mark on American history. Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe Di Maggio, Hank Greenberg, Ted Williams, all are icons of American history. Ebbets Field, The Polo Grounds, Shibe Park, Sportsmans Park, places that are still recalled with reverence by grown men and women who went to those places when they were kids. And it's all gone. A mere memory, but what a wonderful memory, a time when baseball was king. Remember, it was a time before television, which made the ballplayers seem that much more ... godlike. And this is not mere hyperbole. The baseball players from the past had a style and class that made them objects of admiration. They were loved and respected. They played a game that was uniquely American. The game was clean. It was fun. Times have changed; baseball is now a huge multibillion-dollar business which is played around the world. Other sports have taken over the limelight pushing baseball, if not off the stage, then to the side. But one thing that has not changed is this: the public's fascination with a special group of athletes who have the ability to successfully hit a hard ball with a bat, and as long as that fascination persists baseball will remain an important part of the American cultural scene.
Here in "When It Was a Game", HBO assembled a nice collection of color home movies of baseball from the 1930s the early 1960s (the DVD jacket says from the Depression to the 1950s, but there is a clip of President Kennedy at a Senators game from the early 60s). It must have taken a lot of work to gather up all the clips and put them together--and I appreciate this. However, while I enjoyed this nostalgic look at baseball in 'the good old days', it could have been much better. For many viewers, seeing the film will be frustrating because up until near the end, none of the players or fields are labeled. And, in a few clips, non-players such as Mayor LaGuardia and Connie Mack are shown but never identified in any way (Mack himself appeared about four times). I know it would have taken longer, but identifying these folks and locations sure would have made the film more enjoyable. And, even when the field names were mentioned later in the show, WHERE the fields were wasn't mentioned in most cases--and seemed to assume everyone knew where Forbes Field, Griffith Stadium and Crosley Field and many of the other fields were located. Considering I grew up in the 1960s and know a lot about old time baseball, I did better than most but still felt a bit lost now and then. Just tossing together clips and adding narration wasn't enough for me--plus SEEING the old-time players talk instead of just recordings of their voice-overs would have been nice as well. Worth seeing but frustrating.
When It Was a Game (1991)
*** 1/2 (out of 4)
This incredibly unique documentary originally aired on HBO and features nothing but 8 and 16mm footage shot between 1934 and 1957 by fans and players. The film really gives one a great look at baseball players in the olden days and it's really remarkable being able to see this footage. Of course, when this was released in 1991 it was even more spectacular because since then more footage (and two more films) have been released but there's still no question that the magic is still here just by watching the footage. Fans of baseball are certainly going to enjoy watching this because you get some great footage of some of the all-time great players like Babe Ruth, Willie Mayes, Joe DiMaggio and countless others. The film also gives you a look at what the players did in between games and there's even some footage of them on board a train going to the next game. Also very special is some 16mm footage from the 1938 World Series, which is in color and we also get a pre-game parade. Some other special footage includes some in-game contests that the players did during WWII just to reach the audience a little bit better. It's clear that this era in baseball was a lot different than that of today and it's interesting just to see the gloves, the uniforms and just the way the game was played. Peter Kessler adds some great narration and we get some voice overs by the likes of James Earl Jones, Jason Robards and Roy Scheider.
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