Jack Roosevelt Robinson, his landmark contribution to baseball and his legacy, is legend to every sports fan and civil rights historian. But there's something about a well-made film, even a very conventional one, that makes a profound impact, even if it simplifies, as any two-hour film must, the complexity of the man and the events.
"The Fire Within", a biography of Jackie Robinson (2007) busts the generally accepted image of Robinson as the well-mannered, married, conventional Jackie and paints a portrait of an angry man who Brooklyn Dodgers manager Branch Rickey urged to use his fury on the playing field, instead of in responding to his treatment by fans and teammates. This is the template Dan Gutman follows in his children’s book, "Jackie and Me", the basis for Steven Dietz’s play.
As an historical record, the recently restored 1959 film Come Back, Africa is stunning. Secretly made to reflect the truth about South Africa’s apartheid, it follows black African Zachariah. Compelled by famine and recruited from his Zululand home by unscrupulous men, he becomes enmeshed in the racist system pervasive throughout South Africa.