Jackie Robinson Story42 had a huge opening this weekend. In fact it’s the biggest opening for a baseball movie ever. But it’s not the first time that Jackie Robinson’s story has been told.

In 1950 Jackie Robinson himself starred in a Hollywood movie based on his life. The Jackie Robinson Story not only told Robinson’s life story up to that point, it was also one of the earlier films from Hollywood that dealt with racism. The film chronicles Robinson’s life from a young child where he received his first baseball glove to his eventual offer to join the Dodgers to the Dodgers winning the pennant. Ruby Dee co-stars as Robinson’s wife and Minor Watson is Branch Rickey the President of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Rickey believes it was time to end segregation in baseball and he believes that Robinson is the person who can do it. He asks Robinson the difficult task of just playing baseball and ignore the onslaught of racism that is going to be aimed at him. Which he does. Robinson does a decent job playing himself.

The film itself isn’t bad. It’s a standard biography but it does deal with the racism that Robinson had to deal with in a frank manner. The film was made only shortly after Robinson broke the colour barrier in 1947 so the full impact of it isn’t really felt, it was still just recent news. Big news to be sure but still without a historical perspective.