'42' review: Good movie, important story of Jackie Robinson


The movie, starring Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford, opens in theaters on Friday.

I had a chance to watch the movie '42' during a screening in spring training, and the best thing I can say is that I do plan to see the movie again. The movie hits theaters on Friday, three days before the 66th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's major league debut.

Most importantly, the movie does a great job of presenting Robinson, his struggle, and how it affected those around him. Chadwick Boseman delivers a solid performance as Robinson, and the best scenes in the movie are when Boseman is on screen with either Nicole Beharie (Rachel Robinson) or Harrison Ford (Branch Rickey).

There are scenes that are tough and uncomfortable to sit through, but not because they are bad. The racism against Robinson had to be portrayed on screen, as it is integral to the history of the game and a needed and important part of the story. In fact, it would be nearly impossible to capture all of what Robinson endured on film, but '42' does an admiral job trying.

I told myself I wouldn't nitpick the baseball scenes, and I thought John C. McGinley did a good job as Dodgers broadcaster Red Barber, but there was one thing that stuck in my craw. At some point in the movie, Barber is describing a Robinson at-bat and mentions his stolen bases and that Robinson hadn't been caught stealing all season.

Robinson wasn't credited with a caught stealing in 1947, but that was because the stat didn't become official until 1951. But thanks to Bob Timmermann and Retrosheet, we see that Robinson with his 29 stolen bases in his rookie campaign also was caught 11 times, tied with teammate Pete Reiser for the league lead.

This seemed like a lazy glance at Robinson's Baseball-Reference page, which shows no caught stealings in 1947. But again, this is nitpicking.

If you don't know anything about Jackie Robinson, you need to see '42,' as it does the best job of telling his story. Just remember, Leo Durocher was suspended in 1947 for gambling.

'42' is not a great movie, but it is a good movie, and there simply aren't many baseball movies made anymore. For that reason alone, it is worth seeing. Again.

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