‘42’ and us
Baseball and movies don’t often play well together. William Bendix as a Marine who dies happy in “Guadalcanal Diary” because he’s just heard that the Dodgers have won is an icon of 1940s Americana; the same William Bendix as the Bambino in “The Babe Ruth Story” is a sad business, to be consigned to the (bad) memory bank. “The Natural” and “Bull Durham” have their moments, but when push comes to shove, they’re both, finally, about something other than baseball. “61*,” Billy Crystal’s made-for-HBO flick about Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and the chase for Ruth’s single-season home-run is a terrific story of male friendship (and gave this lifelong Yankees-deplorer a soft spot for the 1961 Bronx Bombers); but computer-graphic reconstructions of old ballparks being what they were when it was made in 2001—i.e., not that persuasive—“61*” just misses being a great baseball movie.
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