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[4.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

This is the second baseball movie we've watched in less than a month, and the second in a row dealing with the racial bigotry of decades past. Occasionally the Lords of Netflix deal out the DVDs that way.

As you probably know, it's a Jackie Robinson biopic, concentrating on the late 1940s when Brooklyn Dodgers owner, Branch Rickey, brought him out of the Negro League Kansas City Monarchs into the Dodger organization. Rickey was looking not just for baseball talent, but for a thick skin: knowing that the first black player would endure humiliation and abuse, he needed someone who would endure it, and prevail over it.

And that's pretty much what happened. The script leans toward hagiography, but that's excusable. Solid acting throughout and a very authentic 1940s atmosphere. (Whoa: there's Ebbets Field.)

Relatively obscure actors play Jackie (Chadwick Boseman) and his wife Rachel (Nicole Beharie). Harrison Ford plays Branch Rickey, and it's OK with me if he gets an Oscar for it. A lot of hey-isn't-that roles: Christopher Meloni as Leo Durocher, Alan Tudyk as a nasty bigoted manager, Hamish Linklater as teammate Ralph Branca, John C. McGinley as announcer Red Barber. Best of all: Max Gail as Burt Shotton; although IMDB shows that he's had an active career, I don't think I've seen him in anything since he played Detective Wojciehowicz on Barney Miller way back when.

(Which led me to check: is Abe Vigoda still alive? You bet.)