Reel American HistoryHistory on trial Main Page

AboutFilmsFor StudentsFor TeachersBibliographyResources

Films >> 42 (2013) >>

Ali (2001)
Ali is a biography of sports legend Muhammad Ali, from his early days to his days in the ring. The film touches on the life of an African American boxing superstar during a period of massive social upheaval in the United States, including the Civil Rights Movement and the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. The film sheds particular light on Ali's political activism, including but not limited to his conversion to Islam and criticism of the Vietnam War. Ali uses his position as a heavyweight boxing star to be a voice for social justice and social change.
The Blind Side (2009)
Tells the story of Michael Oher, "a homeless and traumatized boy who became an All American football player," who owes his success to the love and care of a white woman. Oher, a black boy with a troubled past, was taken in by Leigh Anne Touhy and her white family and went on to earn a college football scholarship, and become a first-round draft pick in the NFL. The film perfectly captures what can be done with a little hard work and a lot of caring. Oher is currently (2013) a starting offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens.
The Express (2008)
This film is "a drama based on the life of college football hero Ernie Davis, the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy" (IMBD). It takes place during the 1950's and early 1960's and is a biopic with similar characteristics as 42. Davis faced many of the same issues that Jackie Robinson did while integrating the game of baseball. Hostile fans, reluctant teammates, and even a racist coach plagued Ernie Davis throughout his collegiate football career. The only thing that allowed him to gain respect in the eyes of his peers was his incredible ability to run the football. Following in the footsteps of Jim Brown at Syracuse, Davis's performance was even more incredible than Brown's, leading to his selection for the Heisman Trophy. His perseverance in the face of extreme racial adversity makes for an inspiring sports story, and this film has many of the same dynamics as 42. However, Davis was not the only black player on the team and was certainly not the first black player to play football at Syracuse. Yet the team still harbored hostilities towards black players, which is where much of the inner turmoil manifested for Davis. They eventually came around in the same manner that Robinson's Dodgers teammates did but only after he proved himself as a key member of the team on the field of play.
Hoosiers (1986)
Hoosiers chronicles the story of "coach with a checkered past and a local drunk" who lead a local high school basketball team to contend for a state championship. Set in a 1950s Indiana small town that is fanatical about basketball, a new coach, Norman Dale, must win over everyone from his new team to the townspeople who do not always believe in him. After a rocky start and a new offense, the team and the town band together to gain enough momentum by mid-season to make a daring run at winning the state championship. A feel-good movie about success in sport by the underdog.
The Jackie Robinson Story (1950)
This film "is about a star athlete who follows his own code of silence and restraint in the face of severe and unjust provocation to achieve athletic success and social significance" (Ardolino 50). Jackie plays himself in this film as it chronologically makes its way through his life, providing many of his own thoughts and how those thoughts lead to his actions. Highlighting significant events before his baseball career, the audience is provided a more in-depth view of his entire life. Details such as being targeted by other players in college football who hoped to injure him, the racial reasons behind why he leaves college, and the inner turmoil he faces throughout his baseball career to gain acceptance from his teammates are all portrayed. Overall, this is a very personal account of Robinson's life. The viewer is given a first-hand account of many of the stories and situations that were later made famous, but with a spin that allows them to understand the impact it had on Robinson as a person. His accomplishments have turned him into somewhat of a mythic figure, but this film turns those myths into reality. His life and career was certainly not easy, which is why this film is so important to view alongside of 42.
Remember the Titans (2000)
This film follows a recently integrated high school football team through their first season together. Taking place in the early 1970's when racial tensions were simmering in Virginia, the players faced similar social pressures as Robinson did thirty years earlier. It is an inspiring true story about the value of teamwork and the power of camaraderie that occurs when the color of one's skin is forgotten. They overcome the initial shock and racial tensions that unfortunately plague the team during the preseason. But thanks to the determination of a charismatic coach and the teams two best defensive players, one black, the other white, they are able to overcome all odds and leverage their collective talents to win a state championship. The local community attempts to break the team apart in any way possible, and they continue to face social challenges even after they come together in preseason training camp. The racism and social tensions are highlighted throughout the film and are many of the same ones Jackie Robinson was forced to deal with before gaining acceptance from his teammates, and eventually the wider baseball community. Jackie Robinson had to face racial tensions within the confines of his team by himself. For the black players of TC Williams, they were fortunate enough to have a number of black teammates they could confide in and relate with. Remember the Titans shows the audience the power of brotherhood and acceptance, while 42 is more about one man's quest for approval from his teammates. Yet a lot of the same team dynamics come into play especially with the coaching staff. It took the highest levels of leadership to push this social change because society as a whole was certainly not going to do it for them. Similar to the way in which Durocher handled the petition situation, the staff of TC Williams had to take a number of different approaches to unify the team, which were ultimately effective but met with initial reluctance by the players.

See Also

61 (2001)

The Babe (1992)

The Babe Ruth Story (1948)

Brooklyn Bridge (1992)

The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson (1990)

A Homerun for Love (1978)

Hustle (2004)

Only the Ball Was White (1981)

Pride of the Yankees (1942)

Rhubarb (1951)

Rudy (1993)

Soul of the Game (1996)