A reporter hired to write the 'official' biography of Ty Cobb discovers just how dark the baseball legend's real story is.A reporter hired to write the 'official' biography of Ty Cobb discovers just how dark the baseball legend's real story is.A reporter hired to write the 'official' biography of Ty Cobb discovers just how dark the baseball legend's real story is.
When I sat to watch this film, I was aware that it was meant to be pretty harsh in terms of how it portrayed Cobb, but I didn't realise just how little of his career this film would touch upon. The film never shirks from showing Cobb to be the monstrous man he was claimed to be - either in his cruel career where he would sharpen his studs to hurt opponents or his personal life where he destroyed his family. Despite this the first half (and much of the film) is a fairly lively, almost comic affair that is deceptively enjoyable to watch. What this overall tone succeeds in doing is making the rest of the film that much more shocking and powerful as a result. The first significant turn is where Cobb gets `laid' in Reno - a moment that turns quickly from sensitive and comic to violent and scary and then almost immediately to the tragic.
This film missed out on a full cinematic release due to harsh reviews, but I really don't understand why it got them. The only thing I can think of is that the reviewers felt this was an unfair portrayal of Cobb; I do not know anything about him, nor do I care about baseball as a sport so maybe I am being conned by this film but it is certainly a very interesting character who is looked at as part of an interesting and imaginative film. The film doesn't look very much at Ty's career but instead focuses on the man - this is much more interesting and it is done through straightforward means as well as more imaginative touches such as the extension of the career newsreel to Ty's low points.
The film really works well, but I cannot imagine it being as good were it not for the fiery performance from Jones. I don't know how close it is to the real Cobb, but for the material he gets it just right. He balances the character on a knife-edge to the point that nobody could really feel sorry for him but at the same time it is difficult to hate him. Support from Wuhl is OK but not really as good - he wisely stands in the shadow of Jones. The support cast do well, with a small but important performance from Davidovich.
Overall, this is much darker than I expected from a baseball film from Shelton; however it is better for it. I cannot comment on how fair it is to the real Cobb, but regardless of this it is a really enjoyable character piece with a great central performance. It keeps the audience by swinging wildly between the comic, the dark and the tragic, keeping us with it all the time. It is a dark drama but still enjoyable and sadly great underrated and underseen.
- bob the moo
- Feb 7, 2004