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Fear Strikes Out (1957)

True story of the life of Jimmy Piersall, who battled mental illness to achieve stardom in major league baseball.

Director:

Robert Mulligan

Writers:

Ted Berkman (screenplay), Raphael Blau (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Anthony Perkins ... Jim Piersall
Karl Malden ... John Piersall
Norma Moore ... Mary Piersall
Adam Williams ... Doctor Brown
Perry Wilson Perry Wilson ... Mrs. John Piersall
Peter J. Votrian Peter J. Votrian ... Jim Piersall as a Boy
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Storyline

Jim Piersall is groomed by his loving but hard-driving father (living vicariously through his son) to play major league baseball. His desire to succeed to please his father leads to mental illness and a nervous breakdown. Can he overcome those difficulties and return to the major leagues? Written by Jerry Milani <jmilani@ix.netcom.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Biography | Drama | Sport

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 August 1957 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

The Jim Piersall Story See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono | Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Even though Paramount was positioning Anthony Perkins as a major leading man, Perkins made it clear that he was first and foremost an actor and wasn't interested in a lot of publicity. His intensity made him somewhat aloof from the crew, and his obvious lack of baseball skills made the ultra-serious actor the butt of many jokes. Before long the mood on the set became tense and antagonistic between Perkins and the crew. According to Norma Moore, "Tony became more and more difficult as the film went on. By the time we were in the last third or fourth of the shoot, the crew was antagonized by him. They made snide remarks about him, and he just distanced himself." See more »

Goofs

Piersall is shown wearing uniform number 37 immediately upon his promotion to the Red Sox. During his first two years, and part of a third year, he wore uniform numbers 24, 26, 2, and 34, not donning his well-known number 37 until partway into the 1953 season. See more »

Connections

Remake of Climax!: Fear Strikes Out (1955) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Baseball Father -- Stage Mother
9 April 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

As a previous reviewer said Anthony Perkins did not exactly look like Frank Merriwell out on the field during the baseball scenes, but the film is about the true story of Boston Red Sox centerfielder Jimmy Piersall who sustained a nervous breakdown and then came back to have a pretty respectable major league career.

Showing the personal road Piersall took towards that breakdown is where Anthony Perkins gives one of his great film performances. This film is a lot like I'll Cry Tomorrow where Jo Van Fleet was pushing the career of her daughter Susan Hayward as Lillian Roth so she could have the success that her daughter had vicariously.

That's where the other great performance in the film comes in. Karl Malden is the baseball father, someone with the same dreams, that his son become a major league ballplayer. Malden's success involved being on his factory team, he wanted more and when he couldn't have it drove his son relentlessly to learn the skills and make the grade. But it was some price for Piersall to pay.

I remember Jimmy Piersall as a player when I was a lad. He played for the Red Sox in the years of the Casey Stengel Yankee juggernaut. He was a good contact hitter, didn't hit much for power, but played a flawless centerfield. The Red Sox in the Fifties had little to cheer about. There was a pitching staff of Mel Parnell and a bunch of nobodies. There infield was from hunger with the exception of third baseman Frank Malzone who came up in 1956 the last year Parnell played. But the outfield gave New England something to cheer about with Piersall in center, Jackie Jensen in right, and Ted Williams playing with his back to the Green Monster in left. Piersall covered so much ground in center field he made it real easy on both Williams and Jensen. The Red Sox let him go to the expansion Los Angeles Angels in 1961 where he finished his career. Still he's a Red Sox legend.

The story had been previously done on TV's Climax Theater with Tab Hunter as Piersall. In his recent memoirs Tab said that he had hoped to do the screen version. At the time he was involved in a relationship with Anthony Perkins. Unbeknownst to Hunter, Perkins lobbied and got the part in the film. That sort of put a damper on the relationship.

I also echo other reviewers in wishing that some of Piersall's teammates and others in the Red Sox organization had been portrayed. Only Joe Cronin who was the General Manager at the time is shown on the screen. Legendary owner Tom Yawkey is not portrayed and that is a pity.

Interestingly enough Piersall may have gotten his chance with the Red Sox because of Joe Cronin's racist policies. The Red Sox were the last team in the major leagues to integrate. I remember that very well when Pumpsie Green became their first black player two years after Fear Strikes Out was released.

Fear Strikes Out is unfortunately a two person show with Perkins and Malden the only really developed characters in the film. But those are two very talented persons indeed.


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