Since we frequently talk about minority issues on this blog, I think writing about a Jackie Robinson movie is under our purview.
42 follows Jackie Robinson’s first two seasons in “white” baseball, where he played for Montreal and then the Brooklyn Dodgers. In the movie, he faces racism from all sides. However, his boss, Mr. Rickey, makes Robinson take the high road and not fight back. Robinson is forced to keep his head held high and take every jibe and fastball at his head in stride. This proves hard for Robinson, but once his teammates recognize Robinson as more than just some black guy he gets better at overcoming these obstacles and helps his team win the pennant.
I watched a bootleg version of this movie, so I’m really not going to go into certain details because I couldn’t get a full grasp of some things. I can tell you what the ceiling of the movie theater looked like, but that’s not why you’re reading.
As something of a history buff, I’m actually surprised that there wasn’t more racism in the movie. There was a lot of racism, don’t get me wrong, but I was shocked that so many white people, especially the higher ups of the Brooklyn Dodgers, didn’t care he was black. Even many of the players weren’t bothered by it. Not that any of the players were really looking to be his BFF, but they weren’t as offended as I would have thought they would have been.
I also have a problem with the portrayal of Mr. Rickey, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The movie makes Mr. Rickey out to be a sort of hero, that he could do no wrong and everything in his life came for the love of baseball. When Mr. Rickey hired Jackie Robinson, he said he did it to get more black people to buy tickets. Later in the movie, Mr. Rickey told Robinson the true reason he hired him, and it wasn’t for the money. I would have found the money reason much more realistic of the times than some sort of sob story (that honestly wasn’t all that sob-worthy). While I don’t know the exact history behind the movie, as someone who has seen and read plenty of stories from the late ’40s early ’50s, Mr. Rickey’s portrayal was too holy-roller to be realistic.
In short, 42 was a good movie. I’m not a baseball person by any stretch of the imagination and I still enjoyed it because I’m a history nerd. However, if you don’t like history, baseball, or minority issues, this probably isn’t the movie for you.