A great story yields a not-so-great film version.
May 6, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 32 • By JOHN PODHORETZ
Still, 42 has its virtues. For one thing, it is beautiful to look at. Even though I was born four years after the Dodgers left Ebbets Field, seeing it re-created so meticulously brought nostalgic tears to my eyes. For another, playing the fabled Branch Rickey seems to have awakened Harrison Ford from an acting slumber that suggested he had moved to Brigadoon. Ford gives a hammy, twinkly sunbeam of a performance that makes you love him all over again. It was Rickey who had the great insight that the first black major leaguer would have to be a model of civil restraint and dignity in order to shame those who argued there could be no race-mixing in professional sports. And it was Robinson’s greatness of spirit that made it possible for him to shoulder the responsibility of restraining himself in the face of intolerable pressure and ugliness.
It would be all but impossible to tell this story without provoking tears and wonderment at what these two remarkable men wrought together, and 42 does both. But it could have done much more.
John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary,is The Weekly Standard’s movie critic.
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