Sanitized biopic with Robinson portraying himself. It traces his career from the Negro Leagues to the Dodgers.
It starts with Jackie as a young boy in 1928 getting a used baseball glove as a gift from the coach of a local kids team. Pages of the calender go by and Jackie is now ready for college in 1938. He breaks his brother’s broad jump record and leads the conference in touchdowns. UCLA football coach Bill Spaulding (portraying himself) recruits him for the team.
Jackie wants to quit school and get a job so he can marry his girlfriend Rae Isum (Ruby Dee). His mother (Louise Beavers) wants him to stay in school. He stays and then sends out applications to high schools and colleges for coaching jobs. Everyone turns him down and he’s eventually drafted for World War Two.
After the war he plays for the Black Panthers of the Negro Leagues. A scout from the Dodgers, Clyde Sukeforth, takes him to New York to meet with Dodgers’ President Branch Rickey (Minor Watson). He tells Jackie he’ll have to put up with insults from opposing players and may get a few spikes in the legs when running the bases. He warns him that he’ll have to be extra tough because he won’t be able to fight back. Jackie agrees and will join the Montreal farm team as a second baseman.
He marries Rae and they go to Florida when it’s time for spring training. Jackie’s new teammates freeze him out at first. Now it’s time for a game against the Dodgers. The town where it’s going to be played locks the stadium saying games between white and colored are illegal.
Before the opening game in Jersey City the President of the International League asks Branch to rethink his experiment. It’s a tough opener for Jackie but he fights off his case of nerves and has a great day. Throughout the season he’s subjected to more abuse from the crowds and other players.
The Dodgers and Montreal train together in Panama. Six Dodger players sign a petition saying they want Jackie off the team. Branch gives them hell. Since the Dodgers have the second baseman they want, Jackie is switched to first. Now it’s his debut in Ebbets Field.
Although the movie really glosses over all that Robinson went through it’s worth a look for anyone wanting to see the real Jackie try his hand at acting. For a better view of what was really happening check out the 2013 movie “42.”