Robert Redford Returns to Baseball in Brian Helgeland’s Branch Rickey Biopic

     April 6, 2011

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You know who apparently doesn’t get enough credit in Jackie Robinson’s story about breaking the color barrier in baseball?  White guy Branch Rickey.  Because it’s not simply enough to give credit to an African-American who risked his life to play the great American pastime, Brian Helgeland (A Knight’s Tale) will write and direct a biopic about Rickey, an executive who made the brave decision to sign Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1945.  24 Frames reports that Robert Redford who starred in the 1984 baseball drama The Natural, will play Rickey in a role I’m fairly certain will be preachy and simplistic.

Hit the jump for more on Redford’s participation and why this project makes me cringe.

Rather than focus on Robinson’s story, Helgeland’s movie will look at the “complex” relationship between Rickey and Robinson, and how Rickey signed the famous athlete for reasons both economic and idealistic.  Says Redford of the story:

“No one really knows the Rickey part, the political maneuvers and the partnership they had to share.  It’s the story underneath the story you thought you knew.”

Because if there’s a group of people who really don’t get their stories told any more, it’s rich white guys.  I will lay 10-to-1 odds that the big message of the movie is: “Racism is bad.”  Of course, preachy has become Redford’s trademark as seen in his recent films Lions for Lambs and the upcoming The Conspirator.  Basically, this movie just sounds like Helgeland and Redford trying to make a Jackie Robinson movie through the lens of white privilege.  Hooray.

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