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TV & Film

The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson

Ellen Adair April 14, 2021

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This week on Take Me In to the Ballgame:

In honor of Jackie Robinson Day, Ellen Adair and Eric Gilde discuss the 1990 TV movie “The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson.” They introduce the film (1:27), with an overview of the story, cast, director and writer. They review the 20-80 baseball scouting grades for rating the film (5:48), with a metaphor that Mike Schur would not enjoy. Then, they begin with Amount of Baseball (9:48), discussing whether or not this is a baseball movie, plus amount of football. Player comp? Baseball Accuracy (12:35) considers things that the film gets right about the court-martial, the stakes of the event, and its role in Jackie Robinson’s life. They also discuss Jackie’s friendship with Joe Louis and the latter’s fights with Max Schmelling, Wendell Smith timeline issues, Branch Rickey and the United States League, why Robinson left UCLA and his post-college life, and the breakup with Rachel. Storytelling (35:24) praises the way the film represents racism as a spectrum, not a binary, with a variety and intensity of characters’ racism. Wendell Smith’s importance in this film is a bonus. They discuss the storytelling of the opening photo montage, the high-variance player of the dialogue, and filmic treatment of the bus scene itself. Acting (1:01:14) lays praise at the feet of Andre Braugher, Stan Shaw, Ruby Dee, Daniel Stern, Bruce Dern, and J.A. Preston. Delightfulness of Catcher (1:08:57) and Delightfulness of Announcer (1:09:25) do not offer much. Lack of Misogyny (1:10:00) is helped by the amazing women who were actually in Jackie’s life. No spoilers on the following segments: Yes or No (1:12:57), Six Degrees of Baseball (1:17:13), Favorite Moment (1:18:42) Least Favorite Moment (1:21:20), Scene We Would Have Liked to See (1:23:18), Dreamiest Player (1:26:01), Favorite Performance (1:26:40) Next Time (1:28:16) and Review Thank You (1:30:03).


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