In America today, black players can be found in every sport. But back in 1946 there were no black athletes, especially not in baseball, the “white man’s sport.” Director Brian Helgeland (“A Knight’s Tale”) zeroes in on the African-American player who kicked down the door of segregation to sign up for the Brooklyn Dodgers: Jackie Robinson (played with acumen and insight by Chadwick Boseman).
Robinson has a staunch supporter in Major League executive Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), who recruits him and tells him that he wants someone with “the guts not to fight back” against the whites who taunt him. This seems like a vicious move — as if Rickey’s going to throw Robinson into a colosseum of lions and expect him to keep calm; the hostility Robinson and his family encounter on and off the field nearly breaks his spirit, not to mention a couple of bones. But Robinson claws his way to respect and equality, and the rest, as they say, is history.
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Woody Allen said in “Manhattan” that Jackie Robinson was one of the reasons to go on living. When you see him hit first base, steal second and third and then run home on a single, you’ll know why.
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