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Running Time: 100 minutes
Starring: Anthony Perkins, Karl Malden, Norma Moore, Adam Williams, Perry Wilson, Peter J. Votrian
Screenplay by: Ted Berkman and
Directed by: Robert Mulligan
Retail Price: $19.99
Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Mono, French Mono, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (15 Scenes)
Released: March 4th, 2003
"Fear Strikes Out" tells the true story of Jimmy Piersall, a baseball player for the Boston Red Sox who went down in the history books as an outfielder with an impressive batting average. While Jimmy played for 17 seasons, this film does not highlight all his glory in playing in the big leagues. But rather, the film details Jimmy Piersall's suffering from a nervous breakdown and mental illness. This was mainly caused by his father who pushed at him to play pro ball. Of course, it's up to Jimmy to face his plights and overcome them.
I really did like "Fear Strikes Out," as I think it's a solid movie and hits a home run (aren't I hilarious?) as far as dealing with its main themes and issues. The team of the late Alan Pakula and Robert Mulligan do great work here, as this was Mulligan's big feature film directing debut (of course, he'd go on to direct "To Kill A Mockingbird," "Summer Of '42" and "The Man In The Moon"). Mulligan truly shows his promise as a director here, creating a pretty even story that is well shot and has true emotion - nothing faulty really rings here. I really respected how he aims to make a true connection with Piersall's struggles as he shows parts of his childhood where his father did work him and his talents and his career - and the important points that defined his life - in the majors. It's nice to see how Jimmy deals with his relationships and his illness.
And while the film can occassionaly drag on and sometimes overdoes some of what it's trying to show, it's worth noting that the movie still holds up to this very day. This just goes to show you that while not all old movies are "classics," what they teach and what they say can still be relevant and just as engrossing now. While parents still push their kids for sports (there's been a bit of controversy in the past few years as far as Little League - the parents are more intense and crazier while the kids just want to have fun), they also push them for other activies as well (*COUGHbreedingthemforcollegeCOUGH*). It seems children have no childhood anymore. But that's a different story entirely.
So back to the movie. I really liked the musical score and the acting is nothing short of sensational. Anthony Perkins wonderfully captures the struggles and heartbreak the older Jimmy endures, while Norma Moore as Jimmy's mother puts in a nicely subdued performance. Adam Williams is very nice as Jimmy's psychiatrist, but I couldn't help but marvel at Karl Maden's performance as Jimmy's father John. Yes, he wants the best for his son, but he's a ballplayer himself and is living through his child. Maden does give a harrowing, maddening and intense performance that feels so right and natural. I couldn't imagine anyone else in the role. In all, "Fear Strikes Out" is a nice drama with a baseball backdrop that nicely intertwines into the emotions and characters. The movie is not a must-see classic or anything, but if you have the chance to see it, it's well worth paying attention to.
Presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen (all in black and white goodness), the image is a bit grainy but looks surprisingly good for a film that's over forty-five years old. Despite the dirt pieces and blemishes that pop up on the screen here and there, things look pretty good. There is no edge enhancment to be found, but there is some slight shimmering, some edge halos and a decent about of noise. Still, detail is nice and the image is pretty crisp in total. Well done.
The English mono track (a French one is also included) does sound pretty nice. But given that this is mono, there's not much to say. Spread across two channels, everything sounds quite strong and pretty crisp given the limited dynamics. The background score sounds nice, the sound effects are good and the dialogue is really clear and they all blend together quite nicely. Fidelity is decent and that's really about it. Also included are English subtitles and English closed captions.
This disc features HOURS of a whole bunch of nothing!
"Fear Strikes Out" is a nice little drama with fine performances as well as some inspiring messages. It might be exciting for some to check out the debut of the production duo of the late Alan J. Pakula and Robert Mulligan, but if you're pretty curious then the film is definitely worth a rental. If you're a fan of the film, then it's a purchase. Still, if you think you might watch it time in and time out, then it might be worth it to plunk down the cash since the film sports a pretty nice retail price (which you can probably score for much cheaper).