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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. On a related note, I offered the ICLU my cases against the BLE repeatedly, and sought their amici aid repeatedly as well. Crickets. Usually not even a response. I am guessing they do not do allegations of anti-Christian bias? No matter how glaring? I have posted on other links the amicus brief that did get filed (search this ezine, e.g., Kansas attorney), read the Thomas More Society brief to note what the ACLU ran from like vampires from garlic. An Examiner pledged to advance diversity and inclusion came right out on the record and demanded that I choose Man's law or God's law. I wonder, had I been asked to swear off Allah ... what result then, ICLU? Had I been found of bad character and fitness for advocating sexual deviance, what result then ICLU? Had I been lifetime banned for posting left of center statements denigrating the US Constitution, what result ICLU? Hey, we all know don't we? Rather Biased.

  2. It was mentioned in the article that there have been numerous CLE events to train attorneys on e-filing. I would like someone to provide a list of those events, because I have not seen any such events in east central Indiana, and since Hamilton County is one of the counties where e-filing is mandatory, one would expect some instruction in this area. Come on, people, give some instruction, not just applause!

  3. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  4. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  5. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

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