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42

42

2013 (Brian Helgeland) PG, 128 minutes

Harrison Ford; Chadwick Boseman

“42” begins in 1945, when Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) decides to integrate the team. Insisting to his nervous associates that dollars aren’t black or white, only green, Rickey begins scouting for a player who not only will help the team win, but also has the character to withstand the backlash that will ensue.

He settles on Robinson, a gifted athlete from California with an impressive record in the Negro leagues. When Robinson asks Rickey if he’s looking for a player without the guts to fight back, Rickey famously replies that he’s looking for “a player with the guts not to fight back.”

The film’s most gratifying sequences are on the field, when Robinson is silencing his critics with the sheer beauty and athleticism of his playing, and when his teammates -- who early in his career petitioned to have him removed -- can be seen gradually coming around, as if waking from a particularly toxic trance. By the time Pee Wee Reese (Lucas Black) famously puts his arm around Robinson during a game in Cincinnati, “42” has taken on cumulative, undeniable momentum, not just as classically rousing entertainment but as a quintessential story of American aspiration. 

Ann Hornaday-Washington Post

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