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Hammerle on ... '42'

Robert Hammerle
April 24, 2013
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bob hammerle movie reviewsIn movies, actors never die, they, like General MacArthur, just sadly fade away.

As a passionate movie fan, death occasionally touches your heart, and that occurred recently with the passing of Roger Ebert, Jonathan Winters and the lovely Annette Funicello. Their significance was far greater than their artistic reputations, and I couldn’t let their deaths escape without a personal comment.

Much has been written about Mr. Ebert, but few articles dealt with his impact on the average movie fan. Like many people, I first became exposed to movie criticism after watching his great TV show with Gene Siskel, and I was never the same.

Importantly, Mr. Ebert never shied away from the relationship of certain films to politics, and I obviously have long followed his lead. In other words, if anyone has grown a bit weary of my enthusiastic connection of various films to relevant national issues, blame Mr. Ebert because he is at fault!

As for Mr. Winters, he was as funny as any performer to appear on TV. Hunt down the movies It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963); The Loved One (1965); and The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming (1966) to understand his comic genius.

But I must confess that I still remain immensely saddened by the death of Ms. Funicello. When she first appeared on TV in “The Mickey Mouse Club,” it was 1955, and she was only 13 years old. I was 8, and I made sure I got home every day in time to watch this beloved ensemble.

To get right to the point, I fell in love for the first time with a cute, dark-haired Italian girl. She was as genuine as she was fascinating, and it was easy to embrace the entire show. Anyone remember the adventures of “Spin and Marty?”

Sure, her subsequent movies, largely with Frankie Avalon, were as foolish as they were entertaining. More to the point, you got to see her on the beach, and it bears a startling contrast to the wretched recent film Spring Breakers.

Sure, Ms. Funicello was a good girl, but she also was intelligent and profoundly caring. The girls in Spring Breakers were utterly vapid, and I couldn’t help but feel that they would have learned a bit on how to live if they would have spent a few hours watching old reruns of “The Mickey Mouse Club.”

What made Ms. Funicello all the more admirable was her long struggle with multiple sclerosis. She had been fighting that degenerative neurological disease since 1987, and she did it with dignity and style. She helped raise money to fight this and other neurological disorders, and she simply should not and cannot be readily forgotten.

Upon reading about her death, I was reminded of the daily closing song on her “Mouse Club” series. One of the guys, I believe Jimmy, sang the following with Annette and the kids:

“M-I-C ,

See you real soon.

K-E-Y,
Why? Because we like you.

M-O-U-S-E.”

Well, Annette, there were a lot of young people, particularly boys, who liked you too.

“42”

Watching Brian Helgeland’s “42” is like taking a trip in a time machine. Growing up in southern Indiana, I blindly learned to love baseball without fully understanding its past.

I quickly learned. As a Cleveland Indians fan, I embraced Larry Doby, the first African-American to play in the American League. In 1954, I won a national Coca-Cola contest and was able to take my dad to Cleveland to watch a World Series game between the Indians and the New York Giants. More to the point, I was able to watch Willie Mays play shortly after his legendary over-the-shoulder catch in center field off a fly ball hit by Vic Wertz.

Equally important, I attended a St. Louis Cardinals Baseball Fantasy Camp for one week in 1991 where I was fortunate enough to have Bob Gibson as my team manager. Listening to both him and Curt Flood discuss their careers, they had not forgotten the segregation that forced them to live apart from their white teammates in the 1950s.

The best thing about “42” is the ability to become a personal part of Jackie Robinson’s quest to be simply treated as an equal. Chadwick Boseman literally brings Robinson back to life both on and off the baseball diamond. In the end, his courage was a product of the great advice he got from Brooklyn Dodgers’ team executive Branch Rickey when he was told to have the strength to turn the other cheek.

The incredible abuse that Robinson had to tolerate was leveled both on and off the field. The reluctance of his own teammates to initially accept him paled in comparison to the vicious diatribes leveled by players like Philadelphia Phillies’ manager Ben Chapman. It is telling that you hear the “N word” almost as frequently as in Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained.”rating

What “42” teaches us is that we can’t simply sing the praises of our country if we ignore our profound historical weaknesses. This occurred during our lifetime, and there is a reason why Robinson’s number, 42, is the only number retired by baseball to this day.

I should also note a fantastic performance by Harrison Ford, here playing Rickey. Rickey had the courage to fight racial prejudice head on, and the Dodgers added legendary players Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe in subsequent years. It has been a long time since Harrison Ford was remotely this good, and he deserves to be remembered at Oscar time.

Finally, it goes without saying that most Americans would have denied the presence of racial prejudice at the time Robinson joined the Dodgers. It makes you wonder just how alive this racial venom is today when a Robinson counterpart known as Barack Obama became the first African-American president.

Like Jackie Robinson, President Obama has consistently turned the other cheek no matter how hostile the criticism. Tragically, racial hatred didn’t die overnight in this country, and it remains frightening to see us dodge that reality.•

__________

Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis. When he is not in the courtroom or working diligently in his Pennsylvania Street office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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  1. Applause, applause, applause ..... but, is this duty to serve the constitutional order not much more incumbent upon the State, whose only aim is to be pure and unadulterated justice, than defense counsel, who is also charged with gaining a result for a client? I agree both are responsible, but it seems to me that the government attorneys bear a burden much heavier than defense counsel .... "“I note, much as we did in Mechling v. State, 16 N.E.3d 1015 (Ind. Ct. App. 2014), trans. denied, that the attorneys representing the State and the defendant are both officers of the court and have a responsibility to correct any obvious errors at the time they are committed."

  2. Do I have to hire an attorney to get co-guardianship of my brother? My father has guardianship and my older sister was his co-guardian until this Dec 2014 when she passed and my father was me to go on as the co-guardian, but funds are limit and we need to get this process taken care of quickly as our fathers health isn't the greatest. So please advise me if there is anyway to do this our self or if it requires a lawyer? Thank you

  3. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  4. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  5. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

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