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The Donna Reed Show: Big Star (1962)
Much singing, almost no plot otherwise
This is an episode you can enjoy if you like the slow, sentimental songs of the era. Otherwise, skip it entirely. Donna has almost nothing to do in the show, Jeff is practically a walk-on, and Alex has two one-liners about the guest star being clumsy. It is all about Mary and her new friend, Clay Shannon.
At the beginning, Clay sings an old folk song to Mary on the Stone's front porch. He did have a nice voice. I looked up his bio and saw he is someone named Jerry Lanning, who apparently did not go on to any sort of recording career, but acted mostly in soap operas and sang on stage in New York. He also guest starred as a would-be singer on what is often called the worst episode ever of The Dick Van Dyke Show, "The Twizzle" as a would-be pop singer who invented a new dance craze and impressed Rob and his colleagues.
Mary wants him to start a singing career but the young man, who works in a nursery, is shy and doesn't want to sing in front of crowds. Virtually the rest of the plot deals with Mary trying to get him to sing for some big talent scout who happens to be in Hilldale "for the music festival." Clay reluctantly agrees to meet with a college prof of Mary's, who knows this scout, but he chickens out, angering Mary, who again tries to get him to agree to sing for the man. Finally, when Mary tells him how disappointed she is, he agrees to meet the talent scout.
Inside her hotel room, Clay sings another slow, sad, song for her. As he is singing, Mary drifts out of the room, later telling Donna, "He's going to be a star and I'll never see him again." She goes outside to the porch and sings her big song of the episode, "Big Star," another slow, sad, song.
Oops, I just gave away the ending. Sorry, but there really is almost no plot to this one other than Mary trying to get the guy to sing for others and him being too shy. This was really about a half musical episode and I can't think of more than three things that were designed to make you chuckle.
If you like the songs, you might think this good. If you're looking for comedy, or even some sort of realistic drama about the lives of one of the main characters
you'd probably agree with me, this is one of the series' worst, which I give a 2.
Two plots, neither developed as well as possible
This was really a split episodethe first part had nothing, really, to do with the second, but was tied to it on a flimsy premise. Both halves were reasonably funny, but it did appear that the writers didn't feel they could develop either plot as an entire episode, so they wove them into one. I thought both could have been better if given the whole 25 minutes to themselves.
We begin with a busy Donna cooking, helping Alex with plumbing, getting a phone call and trying to answer the door, virtually all at once. The man at the door is Harvey Korman, playing an advertising man whose company has chosen Donna as one of 25 women in Hilldale who are absolutely "average housewives," whom the company wants to do some research on to determine just how much of their time is spent each day on cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.
While he is dining with the Stones, Donna hears him spout all sorts of statistics on what makes someone or someone's home average. He predicts exactly what sort of meal will be served, what the dessert choices will be, and Donna is shown getting rather upset at being considered "average." She quietly takes it out on her family after he leaves, while agreeing to be part of the research utilizing several stop watch recorders on a strap attached to her arm.
That's pretty much the end of the first plot. Her friend, the local newspaper editor drops by to ask a favor. A former Hilldale resident, now rich and famous, is in town and the editor wants to know why he is trying to buy a small piece of landwhat sort of big development is he planning? Because Donna knows him personally, the editor figures the millionaire, Jason Farnum, who has shut off all contact with others in his hotel room in town, will allow Donna to visit him and she can find out the story.
Now we could have had Donna doing this for her friend, and happy to see her old friend, Jason without the tie in with her being eager to do something NOT average, but that is how they tied this together.
At the hotel, Donna is denied a chance to talk to her old friend by Mr. Whipple, that is, the desk clerk is played by Dick Wilson, who was commercial-land's Mr. Whipple for many years. This might have been Wilson's last TV appearance without a mustache, giving him a different look.
The funniest scenes are when Donna is sneaking about the hotel trying to find Farnum's room, including where she poses as a new maid, including a fake Irish brogue.
But because we spent the first half of the show on the average housewife plot, this episode winds up fairly quickly as she finds Farnum and learns what he plans to do quite easily.
We finish with her family being stunned to read a newspaper story detailing the man's plans with Donna's name in the byline.
I believe the first plot would have been better if Donna had chosen her own ways of being a not-so-average woman instead of luckily having a chance to be a reporter thrust upon her. The second plot would have been much better if she had to go to more elaborate means to locate the man's room and wasn't handed the reason for the land purchase by him, willingly, almost as soon as she started to visit with him.
Funny episode, but expanded, broken into two, each of these plots could have been among the series' funniest. I give it a 7.
Jeff umpires softball, talks to Hall of Fame pitcher
The basic plot description does little to describe what this episode is about. Jeff does indeed score an interview, in his home, with the famed Dodger pitcher, Don Drysdale. In my memory, whenever some star athlete was on a sitcom in this era, his appearance was basically a walk-onhe would be talked about and would finally appear near the end of the episode, say a couple of funny lines, seem to be a good guy, and that would be it.
Here, Drysdale has a featured role in two scenes. Of course, he comes across as a good guy, but he plays an important role in this episode.
The main plot involves Jeff being sweet talked by two girls his age, Angie and Marcia, who seem to be captains of rival softball teams who want Jeff to umpire their upcoming game because he's about the only guy they can trust to be neutral. Angie is played by Candy Moore, better known for her portrayal of Chris, Lucy Carmichael's daughter on The Lucy Show.
When Jeff mentions to Drysdale at the end of his interview that he agreed to umpire a girls' softball game, Drysdale tells him he should have never agreed to do this because it will be a big headache for him. When we get to the game, we quickly see how right he was. The girls raise the roof complaining about virtually every call he makes. Jeff politely lets them state their opinion and doesn't understand how to keep the game from having a huge debate after almost every pitch or play.
During the game, Drysdale stops by, witnesses Jeff's dilemma and tells him he needs to take charge moremake the call and make it clear that he doesn't want any arguing. Jeff gains the respect of the girls by doing so, although he thinks they all hate him, particularly Angie and Marciaeither of whom he'd like to date.
Afterwards, both girls come by with plans to ask him to a Sadie Hawkins dance. Jeff seems to make a logical decision, but then puts his foot in his mouth and the episode ends with this matter unresolved.
Once again, a Donna Reed episode takes us away from indoor scenes. We see a real softball field, not a few teens on a tiny stage pretending it is a ballfield. The action sceneswe see about four "plays" in the game, are well staged. The pitcher throws like one would in a real game and the other people's movements are realistic for the action we see. I hate the stage scenes on old shows where the kids playing catch, for example, are clearly about 10 feet apart and can do nothing more than gently lob the ball to each other, making for a ridiculous-looking game of catch.
There is also a bit where Drysdale tells Jeff to contact him the next time the Dodgers are due to play in Chicago so the pitcher can arrange for some great seats for the Stones. Without the episodes where the family seems to be living in some other location, this would clearly establish them as living in certain areas in one of three stateseither northern Indiana or Illinois, or southwestern Michigan. Simply putany other portions of those states, or any other state, and he would not have simply assumed they could travel to Chicago to see his team, OR he would have stated a different city for them to visitsuch as Milwaukee, St. Louis or Cincinnati instead of Chicago.
It is also worth noting that the teenage girls having softball teams was treated as normal, with no jokes about them being poor athletes or knowing nothing about the game. That puts this show ahead of the curve in its treatment of women and sports.
This episode wasn't hilarious, but it was rather amusing. I think a 7 is fair here.
A dumb promise leads to dumb lies
This presented a very nice side of Mary, while also showing a rather disturbing bit of stupidity on her part, and on Donna's.
Here, Mary has a friend named Ellen, who is totally unable to attract boys because she is too smart, according to what we hear. Ellen is not unattractive at all, but is thought to not appeal to boys because she is bright, and doesn't work to have them huddle all around her doing her little favors like a really popular girl, Melanie, is shown doing at the malt shop. In that scene, several boys are seated around Melanie, who drives Mary nuts by using the word "divine" as often as modern teens say "like." Every time a boy comes into the shop and starts speaking to Mary and Ellen, even when sitting with them, Melanie calls out to the boy to come over for some silly reason or other and he obeys almost like a servant, immediately leaving Mary and Ellen's table.
Mary's "crusade" as the title goes, is to try to get a boy to ask Ellen to the big dance coming up. She is so committed to this task that she doesn't even worry about getting a date for herself. She tries to teach Ellen how to flatter boys and walk differently, etc. But none of her efforts pay off, and with the dance almost at hand, she is ready to give up. She tells her mother that she was so sure she'd get a date for Ellen that she promised her that if she couldn't, she wouldn't go to the dance herself.
Now this seemed kind of dumb to me. There's no need for both of them to miss the big school event just because one can't get a date. Their plans to see a movie together could easily have been done the night before, or after, and Mary could have still had a good time at the dance. I sure wouldn't want a friend to miss out on some fun just because I couldn't join them.
It seems, from what this script writes, that no girl in those days would even think of going to the dance without a date bringing her. I would think that a good many of the teens would be going "stag" leaving them free to dance with numerous people all evening and not feel tied down with one of them.
So Mary is not sure what to do about honoring her promise or not. Donna encourages her to honor the promise and never tries to teach her how stupid the promise was. I thought she should have told her to talk to Ellen about the whole thing, to suggest they see a movie together and have fun the night before the dance instead, since it would be obvious that Ellen wouldn't really want Mary to miss the dance just because of her. But no, honesty is not something they encouraged in this episode.
The next part will spoil the latter part of the show if you haven't seen it.
Ellen comes by the Stones' house and tells Donna and Mary that she has been invited to a fancy birthday party by a boy at her old school, and that she'd like to break her movie date with Mary. Mary is delighted Ellen has something special to do, and that she can now happily go to the dance without going back on her promise.
But Donna learns that Ellen is lying just to help her friend Mary feel free to go to the dance. Then she stupidly tells Mary about it instead of letting Ellen's lie solve the problem, or better yet, getting Ellen back to tell her that they know the truth and get her to realize that being honest is a better way for friends to treat each other.
To give a happy ending, there is another twist at the end, nothing surprising or particularly funny. Actually, there were almost no laughs in this episode other than the almost hypnotic way Melanie commanded all the boys to hang out at her table almost fighting over her, ignoring all the other girls.
Can't give this one more than a 4 out of 10.
The Donna Reed Show: The Caravan (1962)
Vacations Always Lead to Fun
This is all about the Stone family vacation, which Donnachosen by the others to decide how to spend it, chooses a Motor home for a long drive to culminate in visiting Las Vegas.
Had they done such things in 1962 when this was first aired, they would have been wise to make this a two, or even three-part episode. In just 25 minutes, they could only touch on certain things and had to leave out all kinds of funny possibilities.
We saw scenes of the vehicle driving down roads that were clearly in the American West. We saw no scenes and heard nothing about any driving in eastern states, but they were vague about things so that you could not say that Hilldale has to be IN the West, based on this episode.
The first morning waking up in the vehicle sees Alex unable to unzip his sleeping bag. They finally bring in a mechanic to help him out and before he is able to get Alex out, Donna interrupts, offering him a cup of coffee, which he happily accepts, dropping the project of freeing Alex.
They didn't have any time for traveling woes of getting lost, having to take detours, finding restrooms, or having mechanical problems. We saw some scenes of the hazards of trying to prepare meals while the vehicle is zooming down the road, with a rather well-executed fall by Donna spilling a bowl of spaghetti on her head. One of the funniest scenes culminated in a line from Jeff after rain began falling while they were cooking on an open fire.
This episode stands out in that it includes several scenes of narrationby Donnaas though she's writing in a diary all about the family trip. These served to bridge the regular scenes with the ones without dialog, to make the story flow.
We saw that 3 of the family were having a wonderful time with their various activities, while Donna was stuck cooking and cleaning their mobile home. So they were happy to check into a hotel in Las Vegas. We were treated to several shots of famous Las Vegas hotels of the early 60s, before they checked into the one that got a sponsor listing on the final credits.
Although there wasn't anything super about the plot, this was, overall, funnier than most episodes of this series. It stands out in that it was one of the very few episodes to actually portray a TV family taking a vacation trip together. One thing I always thought odd is that almost none of the seriesAndy Griffith, Beaver, Dick Van Dyke, My Three Sons, Father Knows Best, and the others, virtually NEVER showed their families taking a trip together. Sometimes the parents went away and left the kids with someone else. But there were almost no portrayals of a family vacation of any type.
This one leaves me wishing there was a part two. I gave it an 8 out of 10.
Almost a Green Acres type of story
We begin with Betty Jo playing with her dog, the always unnamed foundling, only here we see the county dog catcher hiding in the bushes with the proverbial net trying to capture the dog. We see him just miss a few times, then chase the dog into the hotel lobby where the dogcatcher, identified as Hinky Mittenfloss, played by Percy Helton, is chased off by Kate, who pulls a shotgun from under her front desk and points it at him.
It seems some farmers are losing chickens and because the Bradley's carelessly let their dog run around the valley at night, he is thought to be the culprit. So that night they, of course, let him out again "to visit his lady friends" (another problem we won't get into) and the next thing we know is that the dogcatcher returns in the morning with a story about farmer Luther Craig reporting that three of his chickens were killed and he saw a dog running from his hen house.
Enter the Shady Rest dog, covered with chicken feathers. Hinky takes him into custody. The next scene is at the dog pound where the visiting Bradleys (only Kate, Betty Jo, and Uncle Joe are seen in this episode, not the other sisters, who aren't even mentioned) are led to the "solitary" cell, where the dog is held, complete with a ball and chain on him, even though he's in the cell.
With a Green Acres type of silliness, the family visits a lawyer (this aired only months before the arrival of Oliver Douglas in the valley) who tells of a case in 1897 where a dog can sometimes be permitted a trial. He insists that Kate act as lawyer, telling her she can do as well as him, somehow.
The key scene is a wild courtroom scene that includes a Perry Mason-like demonstration to discredit a witness, a "soil expert" who makes a conclusion about mud obtained from the farm in question exactly matching farm he scrapes off Arnold Ziffel (the pig) by simply looking at the two in his hands for a couple of seconds, and "testimony" from the dog himself, answering Kate's questions.
I won't give away any of the surprises near the end. I will say that this episode was reasonably funny, in a Green Acres type of manner. I can see fans of this series thinking it was one of the funniest episodes, and other fans thinking it was REALLY stupid. If you are not bothered by large portions of the show seeming unrealistic, you might think this a very good episode. If you like the Junction crowd better when they behave more like real people, this would probably be a good one to skip. As one who loved the wild characters of Green Acres, I enjoyed it enough to give it a 6 out of 10.
few laughs, most illogical behavior and plot
We begin with Kathy, in just her 8th appearance, still recently married, complaining about being taken for granted, essentially saying to Danny that she'd like to get applause and take a bow like he does in his work. Suddenly she is mollified when he assures her the next time she makes a pot roast that he will applaud her.
The couple get to talking about when Kathy was in high school and sang in school plays and did a marvelous job and how she'd love to go on a real stage and sing sometime. Danny proceeds to tell her about how she'd be like others he's known who would get the "puckers." On stage, in front of strangers, she'd be unable to open her mouth to sing, only able to open wide enough to pucker. Kathy is upset at this and we the viewers know immediately what will happen later.
Next comes Terry and her friend, Peggy, asking Danny to help them find a female singer for a high school benefit who will sing on their limited budget of $63. Danny says he's going to a studio and will do what he can. He leaves and Kathy hears them talking and works to get asked to sing for them. The teens think she'll be fine and figure Danny won't even remember to try to find someone for them, much less actually get somebody. But Kathy makes them promise not to tell Danny before the event.
At the studio, Danny meets the very singer mentioned earlier, Dinah Shore, who is eager to ask him to do a comedy act for her child as a benefit. The two stars agree to trade favors, although Danny pauses to consider how unfair it is that Dinah will get $63 while he has to settle for just over $27.
When Danny brings home Dinah, Peggy and Terry are stunned. They try everything but the truth to keep Dinah from being the singer because they don't want to go back on their recently-made promise to let Kathy be their singer.
Kathy learns about Danny's arrangement and cleverly finds a way to back out to let the famous singer do the job. (SPOILERS concerning the ending coming up) After Dinah sings for the group of high schoolers, it is revealed by Rusty that Kathy had been asked to sing earlier. When Miss Shore hears about this, she insists Kathy go back out and sing for the audience right then. Of course, Kathy is glad to do so and all she can do is pucker her lips before she runs off stage, embarrassed, having proved Danny's point that just seeing a small group of high school kids would give her incredible stage fright.
My problem with the plot is that the girls came up with all sorts of lies about why they didn't want Dinah Shore instead of just saying they already got a singer and that they cannot say who at this time. They could have gone to Kathy and explained.
Furthermore, the setup for this performance seems all wrong. They said they needed a "female singer" even though from what little we saw, it was just some sort of musical numbers being sung, not a play. If it was some sort of musical review, they could easily have added a second female singer and let Kathy and Dinah Shore both sing. The entire notion that they needed one female, but couldn't use two, would only have worked if it was a dramatic play they were putting on. Any realistic type of musical show already cast, would have had the people in charge happily adding any number of songs if a famous person was suddenly available to help out.
Rusty and Linda were mostly featured in a scene where they were offered bribe money to not tell Daddy about Kathy's plans to sing. The reason Rusty blabbed at the end is because his "bribe money ran out" the day before. As they rushed into the room for their scene we had the usual Linda with a big forced, unnatural smile, which seems to be what she always did when entering the scene or when waiting to give her line. Nobody walks around with a large toothy smile all the time naturally.
While there are many funny episodes in this series, I hope I remember to skip this one next time I see it on. I could only give it a 4.
Amusing episode despite some big holes in the plot
Ann get hired to be Miss Chicken Big, representing a Col. Sanders' like chain of fast food chicken restaurants, headed by a "Major Culpepper" character played by veteran actor Slim Pickens, who wears a Confederate officer-like costume throughout the episode.
Ann's job begins on the day that her father is to be honored with a big award, apparently to be presented at his own restaurant, in Brewster. Ann is to travel with the Major and his assistant to restaurants all around Connecticut, dancing in a chicken suit, and she is assured by the major that she'll be back home in plenty of time to get to her father's award banquet.
We see Ann coming out and dancing at several restaurants and being congratulated by the major at the end. He sends the assistant home on the train, letting him know he has romantic intentions with Ann. En route, he reveals his intentions to Ann. Ann reaches over and stomps on the brake and gets out of the car in the middle of nowhere and the major drives off.
Mixed in are short scenes of Lew and Helen, with Lew panicking because Ann might not make it in time to see him get his award. Now Ann is wearing this chicken suit trying to get a lift, but most people ignore her. She gets to a farmhouse where the door is opened by a girl, about age 10, who talks to her like the girl thinks this is really a talking chicken. She refuses to let Ann inside. We see Ann sitting on a rock when a sports car pulls up and the driver offers her a ride. He even has a car phone, from which Ann calls "the restaurant"her father's and leaves a message that she'll try to get there in time. The unnamed driver happily drives Ann to her parents' home in Brewster, but, on Ann's insistence, pulls away before she gets into the house. Finding there is no longer a key under the mat, Ann starts to think of how to get in when a big dog from across the street rushes over and jumps on her. Ann never makes it to the banquet, and the episode is virtually over at this point.
I liked the scene with Lew and Ann at her apartment, as Lew protests against her working for his competition, then balking at being served some of that chicken. Lew worrying about Ann is usually funny because he steals the show whenever he is on. Ann bringing a chicken to her apartment at the beginning so she can learn just how to strut and cluck like a chicken before her audition was funny. There were a few other good lines.
The part that made least sense to me was that this "major", who was attracted to Ann, tried to get romantic with her that first day. It was supposed to be a continuing job for her, that would include commercials as well as live appearances. He knew from that morning that she had an important dinner to attend honoring her father, yet he couldn't wait, even for the second day of touring to get her interested in him? Even if she thought him irresistible, she was intent on being at that banquet that night. Only an idiot would think he could interest her in a romantic encounter that particular night.
The time line was also problematic. It was dark when Ann was picked up by the guy with the car phone in Connecticut. She had earlier phoned her apartment, leaving a message with her answering service. Donald was apparently waiting for her in the city, to then take her north to Brewster.
Now it was stated that it was nearly 9 o'clock and Ann figured she'd still have time, following the driver's suggestion of taking her to Brewster directly, and Ann figured that would work, as she could get a dress at her parents' home. It had to be well past 9 when she was dropped off at her parents. The driver was happy to wait to take her to the restaurant. Why Ann didn't let him do that made no sense. How was she to get to the restaurant after changing. Surely there would be no easier way. Instead, she made another problem for herself with the dog when she didn't need to.
In the epilogue, Ann and Donald are back at her apartment, eating some late night chicken from the major's chain, talking about what a tough day Ann had that day. Now we know that after the banquet, Ann was still in her chicken suit outside her old home in Brewster. So I guess we figure that when Lew and Helen got home and found her still in her chicken suit, it could have been only a little past 10 at the earliest. They put her on a train almost immediately and she got back to her apartment, what, 11:30 at the earliest? She then called Donald and he came over for a late, late supper of leftover chicken from the chain, beginning about midnight.
We weren't supposed to think about these elements at all. Given the protective nature of Lew, he would have insisted that Ann stay over and go home in the morning. With an exhausted Ann, having danced at so many restaurants she one time dropped to the floor, and that was before hitchhiking and fighting off a dog, and not getting any supperthere would be no reason for him to go to her place about midnight to eat chicken with her, and certainly no latter-day expectation of a romantic time given Ann's clear-cut state of exhaustion.
That Girl: The Defiant One (1969)
Stereotypes abound in this unfunny episode
We begin with Ann in a supermarket buying two paper bags full of groceriesfor which she was charged a whopping $4.50, when the clerk spots a young boy attempting to steal a candy bar. The boy is black, which is necessary to mention because it is the key to this entire plot. He tells the clerk that his mother is in the store and was going to buy it for him. The clerk smirks, challenging the boy to point out his mother. He looks around and fingers, the one and only That Girl! When the clerk tries to get the boy to admit he is lying, Ann becomes indignant with the clerk, asking, "How do you know I'm not his mother?" From the boy's rather dark skin tone, it would seem at best, Ann could be his adopted mother, but, hey, the clerk could have responded that he saw her come in all by herself, that she looked shocked when she was identified as his mother, or that she was about to pay for the groceries without including the candy bar when the boy was caught stealing it. The laughs are supposed to come from the racially-related lines in this episode.
Ann tries to get the boy, David, to tell where he comes from. She keeps reassuring him that it's O.K. to be poor or to live in a poor apartment. The boy plays along, after first telling her that he lives on Park Avenue, and the two spend much of the show going around tenements looking for his father, a J.J. Johnson. David tries to tell her everything he thinks she expects to hear, including the notion that he lives with rats, has 13 brothers and sisters and that his father beats him regularly. She, of course, believes all of his lies even though to us viewers it seems obvious that he is lying. Ann is quite surprised to learn at the end that the boy's father is wealthy, they live on Park Avenue, and there are no siblings.
Knowing real black people when I was a kid, I remember thinking this was a dumb episode when I saw it then. The way Ann just expected him to be terribly poor and have a father that beats him, and 13 siblings, just reeks of stereotypes. After viewing this again in 2015, this episode sinks even lower.
In Ann Marie's New York City of the late 1960s, there are incredibly few black people. This rare episode featuring one, seems to do more to perpetrate stereotypes than to try to get us away from them. Why did the shopkeeper smirk when the boy said his mother was in the store? If his store had, say, a few black female shoppers, he would have had no reason to be so sure he was lying. Now he was lying, but the clerk seemed sure because he knew his store had no reasonable candidates that might have been his mother. It would appear blacks didn't shop in his store.
Let's look at David himself. Educated kid, but quicker than the Beaver to tell whatever lies he could to anyone around him, particularly to this stranger who befriended him. And, of course, he knew all the stereotypes associated with blacks so he knew what lies to tell Ann. There was even a scene with a black apartment manager where the woman seemed totally unconcerned about this boy who seemed lost from his home when Ann was trying to help him. She too accepted the 13 sibling story without question. The 2 I rated this might be generous.
Boring bunch of crude fantasy, nothing worthwhile here
The movie attempts to present what sort of person baseball great Ty Cobb was, by showing the last several months of his life, focusing on his collaboration with Al Stump, to write Cobb's autobiography, starting in the summer of 1960 and running through the death of Cobb in July 1961. We get a few swirly flashback scenes of some grim moments in Cobb's life, primarily a few looks at the circumstances surrounding the shooting death of his father in 1905. The only baseball footage comes from one "memory" of Cobb's plus what is supposed to have been an old newsreel biography of his playing career that, for reasons unknown, focuses almost solely on scenes that supposedly took place during the 1916 season. So much of the film deals with Stump's life and activities in working with Cobb that the movie would have been more appropriately named "Stump."
The portrait of the elderly Cobb is not to be believed. He appears to be a drug-addicted (Painkillers) lunatic who went around with his pistol shooting into the air and at walls whenever he wanted to get someone's attention. According to this film, Cobb was a foul-mouthed man who sounded rather uneducated and a man whom all around feared for their safety. Coming from the fantasy pen of Al Stump, none of this in any way describes the real Ty Cobb, based on the evidence of all the people who did know him in his last years. In other words, anyone seeking to learn anything at all about Ty Cobb should look elsewhere.
If you like biography movies because they teach you about how people lived in the old days, this is also a film to be avoided because the total footage that is shown that is supposed to take place before the last year of Cobb's life is less than five minutes. If you want to see how realistic the baseball scenes areforget it. Not counting the "newsreel" you see one at bat by Cobb, a double, and two stolen bases, each ending with a kick to the crotch with the second followed by a donnybrook. This is not a film about the life of this famous ballplayer, it is a film about several months near the end of his life with almost no time devoted to telling you about all the things he did in his life.
Even in that one baseball game that is depicted, we see no interaction between Cobb and his teammatesnot even a view of a clubhouse. We see no manager of the Tigersindeed, we never learn from this film that Cobb managed the Tigers for 6 years. A large part of Cobb's autobiography, the one he hired Stump to help him write, deals with Cobb's ongoing disputes with Tiger owner Frank Navin. There is no mention of Navin in this film. While Babe Ruth was mentioned, there were no scenes showing Cobb and Ruth on the baseball field, or in a hotel room, or playing golf together as they did. Perhaps they couldn't find an actor who looked anything like the Babe. Check thatafter all, Tommy Lee Jones doesn't look anything like Ty Cobb and that didn't stop them.
What we have is a movie with much more cursing than necessary to set the mood, and for no particular reason, there was even a quasi-sex scene that seemed designed just to convince you even more that Cobb was a nasty old man. We know his family found him hard to get along with, but throughout his life he was polite in public and obliging to autograph seekers and others who visited him, especially if they wanted to talk about baseball. This film doesn't even suggest that he was ever nice to anyone.
If you have read other sources and know about the real Cobb, you know this movie is almost 100% concocted by the fantasies of Al Stump. If you knew little about this baseball great and believe anything you saw, you know less about him than you did before. Three times or more they declare that Cobb invented the style of baseball that featured aggressive base running and stealing bases and more, even though that is totally false.
With the simple title of "Cobb," any viewer would expect it to be about the man's whole lifeor at least a large part of it, perhaps even the parts that made him famous. Another possible title that would have been more accurate is: "Cobbten months at the end of his life." As a fictional film this was a dreadfully boring show about a two-bit writer and a nasty old man who seemed like a lunatic. Full of excessive cussing and devoid of any reason to like either character, it would rate a 3 out of 10. But because it claims to portray a very real man and depicts someone far, far different from the real person, complete with a made-up memory scene of how Cobb's father diedone that Ty could not have told Stump because 1) it didn't happen that way at all, and 2) because Ty wasn't there at the timeI find this film rather offensive. So I give it the lowest score allowed herea one.