61*

61*

4.6 11
Director: Billy Crystal

Cast: Barry Pepper, Thomas Jane, Anthony Michael Hall

     
 

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Noted baseball fan Billy Crystal directed this made-for-cable drama set in the summer of 1961, as two of the strongest hitters in the major leagues, Mickey Mantle (Thomas Jane) and Roger Maris (Barry Pepper), find themselves neck and neck in a battle to break Babe Ruth's long-standing record for most home runs in a season. Both men were playing for the New York… See more details below

Overview

Noted baseball fan Billy Crystal directed this made-for-cable drama set in the summer of 1961, as two of the strongest hitters in the major leagues, Mickey Mantle (Thomas Jane) and Roger Maris (Barry Pepper), find themselves neck and neck in a battle to break Babe Ruth's long-standing record for most home runs in a season. Both men were playing for the New York Yankees at the time, and as the two men came within grasping distance of Ruth's record, their loyalty as friends and teammates was put to the ultimate test. 61 also features Richard Masur, Bruce McGill, Anthony Michael Hall, and Renee Taylor; the scenes set in Yankee Stadium were filmed at Michigan's Tiger Stadium, shortly after the Detroit Tigers shuttered the venerable playing field and relocated to a newer facility.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Jason Bergenfeld
Billy Crystal, among Hollywood's most passionate sports fans, steps up to bat as director of 61*, the HBO film chronicling the most famous home run chase in baseball history and the two men at its center, outfielders Roger Maris (Barry Pepper) and Mickey Mantle (Thomas Jane). A newcomer to the already legendary New York Yankees, Maris finds himself lost amid the team's glitz and eclipsed by the shadow of fan favorite Mantle. He also finds himself on a slugging streak, and soon Maris and Mantle are in a neck-and-neck race to break Babe Ruth's single-season home run record (60). The media attempts to spin the two athletes as bitter rivals, but as Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa would show several decades later, it doesn't necessarily work that way. Maris tries to help the Mick overcome his alcoholism and womanizing, while Mantle tries in vain to teach his teammate the nuances necessary to becoming a media darling. Pepper and Jane -- who truly, uncannily look their parts -- turn this simple story of breaking records into a hard-hitting tale of competition and camaraderie. Sumptuously shot by renowned cinematographer Haskell Wexler, 61* revisits a moment that baseball fans old and new are not likely to forget. The rest, as they say, is history.
All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
Billy Crystal's 61* stands alongside Bang the Drum Slowly and Bull Durham as one of the few films that understands the day-to-day life of baseball players. The fully realized performances by Barry Pepper and Thomas Jane make this film compelling for people with no interest in baseball. They, along with screenwriter Hank Steinberg, do a marvelous job of presenting two very complex, very male personalities. Maris is an outwardly stoic average guy who approaches the game with unsmiling intensity; baseball is a job to him. This does not make him a popular man with the press or the fans, particularly when compared to the loudmouthed party boy Mickey Mantle. In their private lives, Maris is a happy, down-to-earth husband and father with a quick smile for his family, while Mantle is miserable. Assuming he will die young because his father and uncles did, Mickey lives hard and fast. His destructive behavior fuels a self-fulfilling prophecy. The two opposites bring out the best in each other, both on and off the field. Maris forces Mantle to take better care of himself, and Mantle becomes the only person Maris can turn to when the pressure of chasing Babe Ruth's record begins to damage his health, friendships, and marriage. Pepper invests Maris with a quiet dignity and a Midwestern attitude that makes him neither a foolish innocent, nor a scowling kill-joy (two stereotypes the character could have easily become). Jane makes Mantle charming and likable, but presents his inner pain in subtle, quietly powerful moments. Although the film loses narrative drive in its second half, the characters remain compelling throughout. Although it could have easily turned into a piece of mawkish sentimentality, 61*, thanks to strong writing, respectful direction, and outstanding performances, is an engaging character study with a firm sense of place and time.

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Product Details

Release Date:
09/11/2001
UPC:
0026359178238
Original Release:
2001
Rating:
NR
Source:
Hbo Home Video

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Barry Pepper Roger Maris
Thomas Jane Mickey Mantle
Anthony Michael Hall Whitey Ford
Richard Masur Milt Kahn
Bruce McGill Houk, Ralph
Christopher McDonald Mel Allen
Jennifer Foley Pat Maris (1961)
Renee Taylor Claire Ruth
Bob Gunton Dan Topping
Donald Moffat Ford Frick
Christopher Bauer Bob Cerv
Pat Crowley Pat Maris ('98)
Joe Grifasi Phil Rizzuto
Paul Borghese Yogi Berra
Bobby Hosea Elston Howard
Peter Jacobson Artie Green
Seymour Cassel Sam Simon
Robert Joy Actor
Michael Nouri Actor
Domenick Lombardozzi Actor
Rebecca Klinger Actor
Robert Costanzo Actor
Christopher Marquette Actor
Conor O'Farrell Actor
Jimmy Intveld Actor
Connor Trinneer Writer #2

Technical Credits
Billy Crystal Director,Executive Producer
Robert F. Colesberry Producer
Mali Finn Casting
Ross Greenburg Executive Producer
Michael Jablow Editor
Marc Shaiman Score Composer
Rusty Smith Production Designer
Hank Steinberg Screenwriter
Haskell Wexler Cinematographer

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