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  • Originally published 04/23/2013

    Gene Seymour: What the Jackie Robinson Film Leaves Out

    Gene Seymour spent more than thirty years writing for daily newspapers, eighteen of them as a movie critic and feature writer for Newsday. He has been published in Film Comment, The Nation, Washington Spectator, Los Angeles Times and American History.The 24-hour news cycle yielded one of its better sitcom interludes last week when Rand Paul went to Howard University, the historically black college, to tell its student body why it needed the Republican Party. The libertarian junior senator from Kentucky, at one point, asked for a show-of-hands from those who knew that most of the African Americans who founded the NAACP more than 100 years ago were Republican. When several dozen hands shot up, Paul insisted he wasn’t condescending to them, saying, “I don’t know what you know.” You won’t get a better title for this sitcom than that.

  • Originally published 04/05/2013

    Why Jackie Robinson still matters

    LOS ANGELES — There’s a scene in “42” in which Jackie Robinson, the first black player in modern Major League Baseball, endures intolerably cruel racial slurs from the Philadelphia Phillies’ manager.It’s early in the 1947 season. Each time the Brooklyn Dodgers’ first baseman comes up to bat, manager Ben Chapman emerges from the dugout, stands on the field and taunts him with increasingly personal and vitriolic attacks. It’s a visible struggle, but No. 42 maintains his composure before a crowd of thousands.As a viewer, it’s uncomfortable to watch — although as writer-director Brian Helgeland points out, “if anything, the language we have in that scene was cleaned up from what it was.”...

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