Soul of the Game

Overview

This original HBO production documents, in dramatic form, the rivalry between Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson to see who would be the first African-American to play Major League Baseball. Paige played by Delroy Lindo and Gibson Mykelti Williamson are more aggressive about seizing the opportunity that arose in the mid-'40s with the death of baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who had publicly avowed that the color line in baseball would never be broken. Branch Rickey Edward Herrmann, the ...
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Hbo Home Video, 05/13/1997, VHS Tape, Ex-Rental. Very Good condition. VHS Tape. Case Acceptable. Original artwork may contain stickers or shelfware. Quality guaranteed!

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Overview

This original HBO production documents, in dramatic form, the rivalry between Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson to see who would be the first African-American to play Major League Baseball. Paige played by Delroy Lindo and Gibson Mykelti Williamson are more aggressive about seizing the opportunity that arose in the mid-'40s with the death of baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who had publicly avowed that the color line in baseball would never be broken. Branch Rickey Edward Herrmann, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, is the first to seize that opportunity, sending his scouts to check out all the stars of the Negro Leagues. He narrows his choice down to Robinson, in part because of Paige's age he was around 40 and Gibson's health he behaved erratically in public, though it rarely affected his game. Rickey was looking for a player with the talent to compete in the big leagues and the character not to allow the inevitable harassment that would come his way to get to him. Robinson was signed in October 1945 and made his big-league debut in April 1947. Paige made it to the big leagues in 1948; Gibson died at the age of 36 in 1947 of a brain tumor.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Tom Wiener
After a shaky opening, with a reporter interviewing Willie Mays (played by an actor who looks nothing like the "Say Hey Kid") in 1954 as a device for a flashback to the 1940s heyday of the Negro Leagues, Soul of the Game settles into a surprisingly melancholy account of the breaking of baseball's color line. This is not a celebration of Jackie Robinson's immense courage, but a rumination on the cruel circumstances that denied his more talented colleagues, pitcher Satchel Paige and catcher Josh Gibson (cited by many baseball historians as the black Babe Ruth), their shot at history. The film devotes the most time to Paige, elegantly portrayed by Delroy Lindo as a proud man clinging to his dignity after almost two decades of playing in the Negro Leagues. Before Michael Jordan, Paige was the black athlete who could put fans in the seats just by showing up, and he often had to pitch every game to justify his cut of the gate (though, at the time of this story, he only pitched a few innings each outing). Gibson, played with glowering menace by Mykelti Williamson, was a troubled man, but the film is less clear about the source of his demons; only a postscript which describes his death from a brain tumor suggests that he wasn't totally in control of his health. Robinson's skills and character aren't fully dramatized here; he is only shown to be fast on the bases, and Blair Underwood's bland performance misses his coiled intensity. David Himmelstein's script does offer tantalizing sidelights about the political machinations behind Branch Rickey's courting of black ballplayers. The film winds up on a suitably sad note; an all-star game between Negro Leaguers and Major Leaguers, in which Paige and Gibson might have had the chance to strut their stuff in front an integrated crowd, is rained out, leaving the two veterans once again frustrated at what might have been.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/13/1997
  • UPC: 026359130939
  • Original Release: 1996
  • Rating:

  • Source: Hbo Home Video
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Delroy Lindo Satchel Paige
Mykelti Williamson Josh Gibson
Blair Underwood Jackie Robinson
Edward Herrmann Branch Rickey
R. Lee Ermey Wilkie
Gina Ravera Grace
Obba Babatunde Cum Posey
Cylk Cozart Zo Perry
J.D. Hall Gus Greenlee
Jerry Hardin Happy Chandler
Brent Jennings Frank Duncan
Richard Riehle Peter Harmon
Joe Banks Link Rudolph
Paul Bates Orderly #1
Bruce Beatty Reporter
Guy Boyd Clark Griffith
Gregg Burge Bill Robinson
Ed Cambridge Bellhop
Zaid Farid Clerk
Edith Fields Nurse
Jesse D. Goins John Givens Reporter
David Johnson Roy Campanella
Bob Minor Goon #2
Lou Richards Radio Announcer
Terrence Riggins Orderly #2
Kevin Sifuentes Waiter
Charles Stevenson Supervisor
Isaiah Washington Adult Willie Mays
Oscar Williams Grays Manager
Salli Richardson Lahoma
Erika Flores Girl
Joseph Latimore Jesse Williams
Technical Credits
Kevin Rodney Sullivan Director
Reuben Cannon Casting
Marc Dabe Art Director
David Giella Casting
David Himmelstein Screenwriter
Gary Hoffman Executive Producer
Lee Holdridge Score Composer
Chester Kaczenski Production Designer
Mike Medavoy Executive Producer
Jimmy Ortega Stunts
Robert A. Papazian Producer
Luke Reichle Costumes/Costume Designer
Sandi Sissel Cinematographer
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