Robert Redford To Play Branch Rickey In Jackie Robinson Film Directed By Brian Helgeland

by Gabe Toro
April 7, 2011 2:50 AM
5 Comments
  • |


After years and years of development, Robert Redford finally has the pieces in place to bring the story of Branch Rickey to the big screen. Brian Helgeland will be making his way behind the camera, writing and directing the story of the famous Brooklyn Dodgers executive and his relationship with Jackie Robinson, the first black professional baseball player*.

The film is set to focus on not only Robinson's extraordinary ordeal as a player who broke the color barrier, but also on the trials and travails of Rickey, who saw the economic benefits from signing Robinson. Redford had long been passionate about the film, but not so much about acting, having sworn off appearing in front of the camera since "Lions For Lambs" played to empty theaters four years ago. Helgeland has also been long gone from directing: the writer has been busy writing films as diverse as "Robin Hood," "Green Zone" and "Mystic River" in the last few years, but his last directorial effort was 2003's forgotten "The Order," though a vastly different director's cut of his 1999 effort "Payback" hit DVD in 2006.

On one level, a film about Branch Rickey is a compelling one. In addition to bringing Robinson to the majors, Rickey was a pioneer in having developed the earliest version of what we now know as the minor leagues, while also becoming a powerful force in establishing the use of a batting helmet in the sport. However, Robinson's story of racial discrimination is powerful and worthy of its own movie: do we need to muck up the narrative of another black athlete with the story of another extremely noble white man? No word on when production begins, but Redford, who is also developing "A Walk In The Woods" as a starring vehicle, should make a decision soon.

*Print the legend: The first black professional baseball player was Moses Fleetwood Walker, a catcher in the 1880's who openly railed against the idea of racial integration, championing the possibility of blacks returning to Africa. Now that's a movie.

  • |

More: Robert Redford, Brian Hegleland

You might also like:
Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    

5 Comments

  • Barton | April 7, 2011 10:36 AMReply

    I don't believe this is "mucking" anything up about "Robinson". Rickey was a hell of a lot more than a "noble white man". This man not only integrated the game of baseball but he also started farm leagues so teams could develop their young talent and was also very vocal about safety and overall fairness for all baseball players. Everything that man did or established in the game is still used to this very day. Your article seems to say that Rickey simply wanted to integrate the game so people would talk about what a great man he was. Most baseball fans don't even know who the hell the man is. This is why this film is long over due and definitely needs to be made.

  • J.J. | April 7, 2011 7:47 AMReply

    It must have been hard for Mr. Rickey having to endure threats to him and his family, constant insults, being ignored and excluded by teammates. God, it must have been hard to walk into those ballparks every day and be exposed to the possibility of some racist maniac taking a shot at him. Who wants to see a movie about some light hitting second baseman who had it nice and easy. Give me the Branch Rickey movie. Who is jackie Robinson anyway?

    Make sure it's directed by a guy who consistantly turns out, as a director, crap films. At all costs please avoid hiring an acclaimed and talented filmmaker with a lifelong desire to put this story on film. You've done it again hollywood.

  • mike adams | April 7, 2011 6:52 AMReply

    Awesome! Redford would portray a great Rickey Branch. I also recently saw a sneak preview for the new movie Redford directed called, THE CONSPIRATOR, it was EXCELLENT! Check out the trailer, http://www.conspiratorthemovie.com

  • Traie | April 7, 2011 6:28 AMReply

    Shame Spike Lee never got his shot to direct this story, his dream project...Hollywood sucks.

  • Paul | April 7, 2011 4:13 AMReply

    Agreed. Jimmy Breslin's short but astute book sums up Rickey very, very nicely.
    http://amzn.to/hde1PU

    Can't wait for this film

Email Updates