- The Classic Tale Of Pushy Parents 11/13/2005 12:00:00 AM by ccthemovieman-1
I still remember seeing this as a Little League-age kid in the theater as our family was vacationing in Florida.
When I saw it again, some 40 years later, parts of the film were still very familiar, a testimony to how powerful some of these scenes were. I never forgot them.
This was a based-on-a-true-life account of major league baseball player Jimmy Piersall, a very talented player who suffered a nervous breakdown. The enormous pressure to succeed that was driven into him by his never-satisfied father was pictured as the cause which made him snap.
Anthony Perkins, who plays Piersall, and Karl Madlen, who portrays his dad, are both excellent, riveting characters. Some say this was Malden's best performance ever. Perkins was no slouch, either. This is the classic sports story of an overzealous parent living his or her dreams through their child.
The baseball segment of this film ended about halfway through. From that point, after Perkins breaks down at the park, climbing the backstop fence in a horrifying scene, the film actually gets even more interesting with everyone in the film contributing although the cast, after Perkins and Malden, is a pretty much an unknown-name one.
The only unrealistic part of the film, typical of sports films until the 1980s, was seeing an actor play a ballplayer when he "throws like a girl," as the old expression went. The younger actor playing Piersall as a kid was no better than Perkins in this regard. Neither had a clue how to a throw a ball. It looks corny nowadays.
Oh, well. That wasn't the focus of the story, anyway. As powerful as this film was, it apparently didn't have much of an effect as pushy parents in sports still exist and probably always will, taking the fun out of sports for a number of kids.
It's still a memorable film and worth your time today, especially if you have never seen it.
- Sensational story of a baseball star's mental illness. 7/10/2000 12:00:00 AM by michaelRokeefe
This a very interesting, but not totally factual, account of the life of Jimmy Piersall. Piersall was a popular player with the Boston Red Sox. His antics on and off the field are now legendary. Piersall fell in love with baseball at a young age, but his domineering father forced Jimmy to not only achieve, but to play to perfection. Mr. Piersall's constant manipulating can be traced to his son's mental breakdown.
Anthony Perkins puts in a dedicated performance as Jimmy Piersall. Karl Malden excelled as the relentless Mr. Piersall. Also in the cast are Bart Burns, Norma Moore and Adam Williams.
This is a very stark and interesting movie, just don't take all the content as gospel. A baseball fan's delight.
- A favorite of mine 5/4/2003 12:00:00 AM by mercury4
This is a great movie. I'm glad I made a special trip to the store to find this. I now have the new DVD. I remember catching it one day on Encore or maybe AMC. I thought what I saw of it was great. But the whole time I kept thinking of Perkins as Norman Bates. After I saw the whole thing for the very first time I thought of Tony Perkins in a whole new way. The scenes of him losing it and the scene where he stands up to his father are great. Good baseball scenes too. Very very good acting by Perkins. Malden was good too as Jimmy Piersall's over demanding father. Norma Moore is good as Piersall's wife Mary. This movie has great music by Elmer Bernstein, who's music is always great. The theme really sets the tone for a dramatic movie. This is a great sports movie, biopic, and drama. So be sure not to miss it. I recommend it to everyone. It shows that becoming a professional ball player, or in this case, an all-star outfielder for the Boston Red Sox, doesn't come easy. My favorite part is where Piersall puts on his hat and walks out to go back to playing baseball for the first time after his recovery. That was a very inspiring scene. See this movie and you will love it. There is nothing to hate about it. Believe me, you will not be disappointed
- good acting but some big flaws mar this movie 4/1/2006 12:00:00 AM by railyard
I don't find movies about illnesses whether they are physical or mental, real or fictitious, to be entertaining, maybe informative or educational, so I am approaching my criticism of this movie from the baseball aspect. Jimmy Piersall was quite a character. He overcame a mental breakdown to become one of the greatest outfielders in baseball history. He was a real crowd pleaser with his fielding and antics, but his hitting left a lot to be desired. He just about ruined his arm showing off how far and hard he could throw the ball. When he hit his 100th homerun, he ran the bases backwards. Living near Boston, I saw him play ball on many occasions and I met him in person at a First National Supermarket opening in Lawrence, Mass. He signed a baseball and a photograph of himself for me, but I had to buy two bags of potato chips (Cains, I think it was) beforehand. As a kid, I could barely afford it, but more than fifty years later, I still have the ball and photo. What a thrill it was! I remember him as being handsome and big and strong, not a skinny guy like Anthony Perkins. As far as the movie goes, it was good, but not very accurate. Did you notice the obvious padding to Perkin's shoulders to make him look bulky? He looked like he never played baseball in real life, he was so awkward. (Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig and William Bendix as Babe Ruth also looked pretty bad in their baseball movies). Did you notice that the stock footage was of Fenway Park but whenever Perkins was playing they showed some minor league park? Just look at the outfield background, that's not Fenway. What really bothers me is that they only mention one real life Red Sox person, Joe Cronin, and that was wrong, it should have been Pinky Higgins. What happened to Ted Williams, Jackie Jensen (my all time favorite Red Sox player), Dom Dimaggio, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, and a bunch of others who played on the team with Piersall? Ted's career was actually extended because Piersall was so good as a fielder that he used to run from center to left to catch flyballs so that Williams didn't have to tire himself out trying to get to them. Piersall was eventually traded to another team, so all his euphoria about playing for the Bosox didn't last. Still with all its' faults and disappointments, this movie is well worth watching, especially for baseball fans.
- More than just Peanuts and Crackerjacks in this baseball movie. 6/29/1999 12:00:00 AM by yenlo
This is not what one would call a pleasant film to watch particularly about Baseball. It tells the true story of former major league ball player Jim Piersall of the Boston Red Sox and his eventual mental breakdown. While certain events are not exactly the way they took place the story nonetheless sticks pretty much to fact. Anthony Perkins puts in a dynamic performance as Piersall. A kid who likes baseball but is driven to madness by his domineering perfection minded father played by Karl Malden. Also included in the cast is Norma Moore as Jims devoted wife Mary and Adam Williams as the psychiatrist Doctor Brown.
The first half of the picture deals with Piersall growing up practicing and playing baseball always under the scrutiny of his father. Whatever Jim did on the playing field it could always have been done better according to his Dad. The second half of the film deals with Piersalls mental breakdown and subsequent treatment and recovery. While watching a ball game on TV he makes remarks that his doctor picks up on and uses to unlock the reason why he cracked up. These same circumstances are no doubt still occurring today as many parents push their children relentlessly in everything from sports to academics to beauty pageants. Jim Piersalls story fortunately became a book and later this fine film that perhaps has and will continue to serve as a message to those who watch it. Whether you're a baseball fan or not this is a movie to be seen.