In one of the most convincing baseball biographies you are likely to see, this film chronicles Brooklyn Dodgers second baseman Jackie Robinson. The documentary follows Robinson from his early college days at Pasadena College, where he excelled as a track star.
Upon his graduation, Robinson tries to get a coaching job, but this is the 1940s, and most doors are closed to black athletes. After serving in the army, Robinson plays with the Negro Baseball League, where his uncanny skills attract the attention of Branch Rickey, general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Anxious to break down the “color line” that exists in major-league baseball, Robinson is chosen in 1946 to play for the Brooklyn farm team in Montreal. In a harrowing sequence, Rickey lets Robinson know what he’s in for by bombarding him with insults and racial slurs. The manager is merely testing Robinson’s ability to withstand the pressure: he wants a black ballplayer “with guts enough not to fight back.”
Despite the abuse he is subjected to during his year with Montreal, Robinson steadfastly continues to turn the other cheek, and in 1947 he graduates to the Dodgers line-up.
The Dodgers go onto win the pennant race, and slowly but surely the ban on black players vanishes in the Big Leagues. The Jackie Robinson Story is surprisingly frank in its detailing of the racial tensions of its own era.