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61* (2001)

Cast: Barry Pepper, Barry Pepper, Thomas Jane, more...
Director: Billy Crystal, Billy Crystal
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: HBO Home Video
Genre: Drama, Sports Drama, Sports, Sports Drama
Running Time: 129 min.
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
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Noted baseball fan Billy Crystal directed this made-for-cable drama set in the summer of 1961, as two of the strongest hitters in the major leagues, Mickey Mantle (Thomas Jane) and Roger Maris (Barry Pepper), find themselves neck and neck in a battle to break Babe Ruth's long-standing record for most home runs in a season. Both men were playing for the New York Yankees at the time, and as the two men came within grasping distance of Ruth's record, their loyalty as friends and teammates was put to the ultimate test. 61 also features Richard Masur, Bruce McGill, Anthony Michael Hall, and Renee Taylor; the scenes set in Yankee Stadium were filmed at Michigan's Tiger Stadium, shortly after the Detroit Tigers shuttered the venerable playing field and relocated to a newer facility. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Still timely, a treat for baseball fans by underdog July 18, 2003 - 10:35 AM PDT
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
I coincidentally watched this right as Babe Ruth's name hit the headlines again (via Barry Bonds' mouth). What's interesting is how relevant is the movie's depiction of an athlete's struggle to win over the media and fans as he pursues a record (also reminds one of Barry Bonds vs. Mark McGwire). Billy Crystal does a great job of capturing the flavor of the period, the look of the people and the stadiums -- but what makes this drama spark most of all are the amazing performances by Thomas Jane, as the irrepressible, unreplaceable Mickey Mantle, and Barry Pepper, letter perfect as the more soft-spoken Roger Maris. Both actors flesh out these icons so much they make you root for the both of them as well as making you understand where they came from. Both players were misunderstood, but Maris, the quiet Midwesterner, particularly so, and particularly so in New York, where both the press and the fans have a tumultuous history with the ball players which they alternately worship and deride. Although you have to wonder if the film doesn't exaggerate the press's behavior here just a bit -- probably not much -- it is interesting to think of a time, maybe the last time, when a player could be a star and not be media savvy.

Thankfully, the film only rarely drips into sentimentality, and then, if you're a baseball fan, you can't help but be caught up in the emotion of it all. (If you're not a fan, you might wonder what all the fuss is about, although you'd still probably empathize with Maris.) All in all, not a home run, but the film makes solid contact and makes for perfect viewing during the pennant chases. (Bonus: Director Crystal's commentary is not surprisingly quite amusing, although not always super illuminating.)

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.38)
29 Votes
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Thomas Jane can punish me anyday.
He's the Punisher, you see. Ah, forget it. A list of movies in which he stars/appears. Because he's hot. It's that simple.
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