Blog Contributor: 42 Hits a Home Run! (Jackie Robinson Story)

Friday, April 12, 2013


I recently posted an ad on Tinsel & Tine for a male blog contributor. I felt there were some testosterone driven films not being covered on account of me not being eager to write about them; and also thought perhaps any male readers might enjoy another perspective from time to time.

My association with Collaborate Philly came through for me, as a member, Chris “Flood the Drummer” Norris expressed his interest. Chris is a Philly journalist and musician with a web based company called Techbookonline.

I went to see 42 with Chris and really liked it (my two cents in comment section) but I asked Chris to write the review, kinda thinking it would be a baseball fan approach, instead he did an excellent job presenting the black history aspect of the movie, bringing in relevant side topics; which if you're a regular reader you know I enjoy.  So here's his first blog contribution to T & T.

Harrison Ford and Chadwick Boseman star in“42”

Opens Nationwide THIS FRIDAY!!! 


By Christopher “Flood the Drummer”® Norris

Jackie Robinson
42, an biographical film written and directed by Brian Helgeland about the life of the nation’s first African-American Major League Baseball Player Jackie Robinson, stars Harrison Ford as Brooklyn Dodgers’ General Manager Branch Rickey and Chadwick Boseman as Robinson. Opening in theatres nationwide on Friday April 12, 42, distributed by Warner Bros Pictures, also stars former Law & Order SVU star Christopher Meloni as Leo Durocher, John C. McGinley as Red Barber, T. R. Knight as Harold Parrott, Lucas Black as Pee Wee Reese and Nicole Beharie as Rachel Isum.

Produced by Thomas Tull, this 128 minute feature film will open the eyes of those who are unfamiliar with the amazing story of American Hero Jackie Robinson, and give a new perspective to those who are. 

Set in a time when American’s pastime didn’t resemble America’s diversity, 42 chooses to examine the unique relationship between Robison and Rickey, while exploring the isolation, fear and determination each man – both Methodist – dealt with when integrating the sport of Baseball.
“Jackie Robinson’s story is not only an African-American story but an American story,” explains Gregory Walker, Founder of The Brothers Network, a racial justice organization founded in Philadelphia that engages black men and the larger community in intellectual dialogue and discourse. From April 19th through the 20th, The Brothers’ Network , in partnership with Temple University, will produce the first-ever race and sports conference entitled “Passing the Ball.” Walker believes “Jackie Robinson, too, was conflicted about the choice(s) he made. But he had a commitment to do things no one else was doing at the time,” adding “when you set out to do the things no one else is doing, there’s typically no one there to support you.” 

In 42 Jackie’s character didn’t require much support – or at least that’s what he told his wife (Nicole Beharie), stating, “I’m not here to make friends, I don’t even care if they respect me, I have enough respect for myself.” However, that sentiment soon proved to be immaturely uttered as Jackie Robinson’s “tough skin” seemed to crack open during a game with the Philadelphia Phillies, in which the team’s manager shouted racial slurs at Jackie, causing him to strike out and eventually running off the field in frustration.

Yelling, screaming and crying, Robinson breaks his bat on the wall near the player’s entrance. He falls to his knees and sobs. Rickey, who demanded to know if Jackie had “enough guts not to fight back” when provoked by other players or fans during their initial meeting, comforted the quick tempered sports hero and urged him to get back on the field and win the game. “You don’t know what I’m going through,” yells Robinson. “No I don’t, but you do,” replied Rickey.

“All of us get sick and tired of being sick and tired. We get sick of the marginalization and being pushed on the margins, and we want to come to the center, and some of us have to do it,” states Walker, who says “Robinson was self-selected, his presence was intentional and he created a ‘movement moment.’

The “pressures of integration are so significant,” continues Walker, whose organization recently won a prestigious Knight Arts Challenge grant to produce a yearlong, multi-disciplinary festival inspired by the life of Henry “Box” Brown, an enslaved African who shipped himself to Philadelphia by box in 1849 to gain his freedom. “We in the African-American community sometimes forget the isolation that one experiences when they do cross over. I celebrate him, I celebrate this film and I celebrate him as a hero.”

The Black athlete has “transitional and transformative” value, says Walker, explaining how the Black athletes historically become iconic figures due to their advocacy in segregation and integration. “The black athlete is much more than the ‘sports hero’, he’s a thinking person, a thought leader.” Walker, who graced the ‘Features’ section of the Philadelphia Daily News on January 28th under the headline ‘Smart Mover,’ has no doubt that Jackie Robinson was a genius. “When you wake up every day and you see the world one way, and you desire to change the world to fit your needs, that’s heroic, herculean and genius,” says Walker.
While 42 didn’t do anything to highlight Robinson’s academic pedigree, the film portrays “him, instead, as a person—an exemplary one, to be sure, but one who did exemplary things within the context of living the joys and pains of a normal human being,” writes Dave Steele, AOL Fanhouse Columinst.

In an interview Monday on the National Public Radio talk show “On Point,” Helgeland credited that approach to Robinson’s widow, Rachel, who was in on the script from the beginning. Throughout the movie, Rachel is Jackie’s main support system. After his initial meeting with Brach Rickey and being offered $600 a month to play for Brooklyn’s International League Farm Club, the Montreal Royals, Jackie hopped on a pay phone, and with excitement in his voice, asked his then girlfriend to become his wife. 
Another support system for Robinson throughout the film was Wendell Smith (Andre Holland), a sports writer for the black weekly Pittsburgh Courier. Although Robinson initially rejected his support due to his “not being used to needing others for anything,” Smith became one of Robinson's biggest allies and an ever bigger fan. According to Cleveland Indians owners and team President Bill Veeck, “Wendell influenced Rickey to sign Robinson, for which he’s never completely gotten credit.”

The film decides to focus on the 1947 season and the handful of years leading up to it. According to AOL columnist Dave Steele, “Choosing to stick to the ’47 season rather than Robinson’s entire, just-as-impactful life, shouldn’t be held against the “42” filmmakers. Instead, it should be taken as an invitation for the audience to learn the rest of his story for themselves—or for another writer or director to bring that to the screen.”

Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™

As seen on,,, and Comcast’s Xfinity OnDemand, Christopher “Flood the Drummer” Norris is  a widely published journalist and professional online content producer. Currently serving as the Chief Executive Officer at Techbook Online Corporation, Norris oversee a strategic initiative of mobilizing local, regional, national and global communities by encouraging the production, safeguarding and dissemination of diversified contents in the media and global information networks.
 Source: TBO Inc®
©2013 All Rights Reserved.
Follow me on Twitter @therealTBOInc

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5 comments: April 12, 2013 at 7:57 PM  

My quick scattered thoughts about "42" - It's a beautifully colored film. Not talking about the African Americans, although there are a lot of affluent looking people of color in the movie. But I'm referring to the production sets & film coloring - vibrant and fresh, yet evoking an era gone by.

It's hard to believe Philadelphia and the Phillies were so hateful! You'd have thought that kind of racial ignorance would only have happened with teams of the south.

I'm hoping the fact that 42 has been released relatively early in the year, won't hurt it's Oscar chances. It's quite a departure for Harrison Ford, his Branch Rickey portrayal deserves an Oscar nod.

It always wonderful to see a black couple getting in a few kisses and showing a loving relationship, but Rachel couldn't have been so perfect. She and Jackie would have had some fights and marital problems caused by him being on the road so often. And just living with all the tension that came with his role as the first black major league player, would have put some strain on their relationship at some point.

It would have been preferable to me if an African American writer/director was behind the film. And Chris brought up a good point that he wasn't able to include in his review - I never thought about it before, but it seems people speculate that had baseball not been integrated, perhaps the Negro Leagues would have eventually out-shined and out-revenued the Major Leagues.

Although Branch Rickey had some altruistic motives for wanting to integrate the sport of baseball, he also made no bones about the fact that in the long run it would spell big bucks! Perhaps he was also trying to divert the growing popularity of the Negro Leagues...

TMcGPhilly April 13, 2013 at 10:25 AM  

Look forward to seeing this. It took the Phillies 10 years to have a black player on their roster. April 13, 2013 at 1:26 PM  

Hi Tim,

I didn't know that, shame on the early Phillies.

Hope to see you again at XPN film fest this weekend!

Ira April 14, 2013 at 5:39 PM  

Just saw the movie "42" today and enjoyed it very much. Like you had mentioned, the backgrounds were nice. I liked the way they presented Ebbetts Field on film even though it was computer-generated scenery.

From a baseball standpoint, director Brian Helgeland did a respectable job including relevant sports history to tell his story: the difficulty Jackie and Rachel had getting to spring training in Florida, the abuse Jackie took from the racist Phillies' manager, and the on-field encouragement Jackie had
received from team captain Pee Wee Reese.

I especially enjoyed the performances of Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, Christopher Meloni as Leo Durocher, John C. McGinley as Red Barber, Alan Tudyk as Ben Chapman and Max Gail as Burt Shotton. "As manager of this team, I cannot hurt you" was something that Shotton actually said to the Dodgers during his initial team meeting.

When available on DVD, I plan on purchasing this film and adding it to my baseball sports collection. April 14, 2013 at 5:41 PM  

I forgot about the part when the new manager, Shotton said "As manager of this team, I cannot hurt you". That was so funny, odd and hardly inspiring. Especially since Rickey needed a tough guy to replace Durocher, yet he begged this mild mannered guy to manage the team. Wonder why?

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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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