Al Stump is a famous sports-writer chosen by Ty Cobb to co-write his official, authorized 'autobiography' before his death. Cobb, widely feared and despised, feels misunderstood and wants to set the record straight about 'the greatest ball-player ever,' in his words. However, when Stump spends time with Cobb, interviewing him and beginning to write, he realizes that the general public opinion is largely correct. In Stump's presence, Cobb is angry, violent, racist, misogynistic, and incorrigibly abusive to everyone around him. Torn between printing the truth by plumbing the depths of Cobb's dark soul and grim childhood, and succumbing to Cobb's pressure for a whitewash of his character and a simple baseball tale of his greatness, Stump writes two different books. One book is for Cobb, the other for the public. Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
Tommy Lee Jones' well-received quip after receiving the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in "The Fugitive" ("I have a confession to make--I'm not really bald") was connected to this film. Jones shaved his head to accurately represent Ty Cobb. In addition, Jones spent only a few minutes at the post-Oscars victory party for his triumph, because he had an early call to continue filming and wanted to (and did) get his work started on time. See more »
When stump asks for a stock tip he is told to buy coke stock as it is about to come out in cans and he says coke in cans I don't believe so. This movie takes place in 1960 and coke first came out in cans in 1955. See more »
[to Stumpy, about Cobb, as Willie leaves for town]
And you sir, you should leave this disgusting, wretched, sorry son of a motherfucker - immediately. Good evening.
See more »
After the credits are complete and the screen is black, Jones is heard to say "Baseball was 100% of my life." See more »
Intense and Enjoyable, if lacking historical accuracy
I read about Ty Cobb in a baseball book when I was a kid, and while it was only a short bio it did manage to touch on many of the infamous incidents he was involved in along with his spectacular statistics. So when I heard a movie was going to be made with Tommy Lee Jones in the title role, I expected the worst and hoped for the best. The result is somewhere in the middle. I had always wondered if Cobb ever changed much in his old age, or ever had any regret over the way he treated people in the past. If he did, it didn't make it into this movie. Jones' portrayal is angry, belligerent, and over the top, and comes off as a man who has done nothing but make enemies his entire life, and intends to die as he lived, because to do anything otherwise - to show even a shred of remorse, would be admitting he had been wrong. It's something of a sensual overload to watch, is certainly not a movie to take a first date to see. But I was captivated by the rage on the screen, and watching very carefully for any cracks to appear. And the movie's biographer, Al Stump, is also looking to find a chink in the Cobb's armor, and Cobb knows it and exposes that fact as well. But the telling moment comes when this symbiotic pair suddenly reverse roles. Stump has been doing his best to stick with Cobb and keep him out of trouble through most of the film to this point. But then a process server knocks on the door of their motel with a divorce summons for Stump. A very drunk Stump then brandishes Cobb's ever-present Luger and threatens to kill the process server... and it's Ty Cobb who plays the sane one, and calms down the situation. It's a very telling moment in a film that otherwise fails to explain the man as the bastard, all the while depicting him with a savage intensity. As to the accuracy... I never met Ty Cobb, and I doubt anyone reviewing this film ever did, nor did Tommy Lee Jones I'm sure. So the real mystery of Ty Cobb died with him, as I'm sure was his intent... was it all an act? Or was the man truly psychotic? That mystery is left more or less untouched by this film, which I can recommend for anyone who has ever known anger, felt it, or been subjugated to it - but if you are prone to flashbacks of "Daddy Dearest", or you just aren't comfortable with harsh, angry, domineering behavior onscreen or otherwise, it's best avoided.
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