April 11, 2013

Movie Preview: Summer of 42

Jackie Robinson’s number has since been retired for all time, but in 1947 it was a lightning rod for much that was good and evil about the Great American Pastime – and about America.

By STEVEN ZEITCHIK McClatchy Newspapers

(Continued from page 1)

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Harrison Ford, with Boseman, portrays Dodgers president Branch Rickey.

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The real-life Rachel Robinson, now 90, signed off on the film.

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PREVIEW

“42,” starring Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni and Lucas Black. Directed by Brian Helgeland. Rated PG-13 for language. Running time: 1:59

“42” stars the Brooklyn-raised, Oxford-educated newcomer Chadwick Boseman, at once warm and stoic, pioneering and workmanlike, as Jackie Robinson, while the role of Rachel – Jackie’s emotional ballast and new bride – is played with appropriate steadfastness by Nicole Beharie (“Shame”). A lively, cigar-chomping Harrison Ford portrays Dodgers president Branch Rickey, conveying a noble opportunism as he breaks baseball’s color barrier for reasons both moral and capitalistic. Hamish Linklater embodies young pitcher Ralph Branca, one of Robinson’s few welcoming teammates.

Rachel Robinson was an essential counterbalance to her husband, say those who knew them, including Branca, now 87 and the last surviving member of the ’47 Dodgers.

“She would cool him down if he needed to be cooled down and lift him up if he needed a boost,” said Branca, who served as an important resource for both Helgeland and Linklater. “People don’t understand how important that was to a man who was not allowed to show his emotions.” An insurance agent for more than 40 years in Westchester County, N.Y., Branca said he liked that Linklater came to see him, and he offered the young actor some advice. “I told him to get plastic surgery so he could be more handsome,” he quipped.

Turning serious, Branca said he felt there was a need for the new film. “People talk about it like it’s the Civil War, like it’s ancient history. But everything that happened that season happened in our times.”

On Monday, Rachel Robinson will make what these days is a rare trip to a baseball game, for Jackie Robinson Day, a tradition the league started in 2004 to honor his legacy. On that date – Robinson’s first in the majors – all players wear the number 42. Rachel Robinson will be on hand at Dodger Stadium in L.A. after attending the Hollywood premiere of “42.”

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Nicole Beharie and Chadwick Boseman as Rachel and Jackie Robinson in “42."

Warner Bros. photos

  


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