At UCLA Jackie Robinson (Andre Braugher - Glory) is making a name for himself as a talented sportsman and he plans to use his sporting knowledge to get a coaching job as he feels guilty because of his mother working to put him through college. But then he finds himself drafted during WWII and whilst he hopes his academic record will allow him to become an Officer all he finds is racism blocking his path. Having made friends with Joe Louis (Stan Shaw - Daylight) Jackie finds it hard to put up with the racism and finds himself facing a court martial when he refuses to sit at the back of an army bus.
Do you know I have never seen any footage of Jackie Robinson play baseball, in fact I have never seen any footage of the athlete full stop. I mention this to put you in the picture as to where I am coming from when it comes to my review of the made for TV biopic "The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson" as my interest is purely as a movie fan rather than as a sports fan. As such I must mention, but it should be pretty obvious, I don't know how much fact and fiction there is to this movie or how effective Andre Braugher and Stan Shaw are at portraying Jackie Robinson and Joe Louis. But "The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson" works well enough as a glimpse back at the past for those whose interest in the movie is only as a movie fan.
Now "The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson" is very straight forwards as it is in many ways a glimpse at the racism of the time, mainly in the military but also outside of the military which we see via journalist Wendell Smith's chats with sports fans over black players playing in the majors. But the main focus is the racism which Robinson encountered and how whilst he is advised to take it on the chin and ignore it can't because of his own self respect. All of which culminates with Robinson facing a court martial when he refused to sit at the back of an army bus, which he was in his right to refuse.
All the above makes "The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson" an interesting movie with good performances from Braugher and Shaw and equally good direction from Larry Peerce who keeps it ticking over. But whilst it does highlight the racism of the time from the constant knock backs from his superior officers to the dividing lines in a military canteen to segregate the soldiers it doesn't do so with hard hitting grit. It is a case of showing us the aspects of racism and segregation but not showing the depth of feeling that this caused whilst highlighting for Robinson it was all about respecting himself when it came to making a stand.
What this all boils down to is from a movie fans perspective "The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson" is a solid glimpse at the past using Jackie Robinson's story to show the racism which was going on in the military during WWII. Maybe for fans of the famous baseball player the personal story will be of more interest but it doesn't stop those from not knowing Robinson and his story from enjoying this movie.