When It Was a Game The Complete Collection (BD)
This HBO documentary is based on a highly original idea: tell the story of baseball from the Great Depression era through the late 1950s using footage from home-movie cameras shot by fans and players. The result is a marvelous look at baseball in America as seen from the ground--the culture of stadiums, the ritual of afternoon games, the spiritually sustaining rivalries. Among the truly unexpected sights is color footage of the 1938 World Series, not only from inside the stadium walls but from the street as traffic cops, crowds, and vehicles amassed. It also covers World War II's impact on the game, and, of course, the heroes, often caught in relaxed, unselfconscious moments.
Arguably more defined and even more lyrical than its predecessor, When It Was a Game 2 moves from a general celebration of baseball culture in America to a specific focus on various facets of the game's history, including the special relationship between game announcers and fans and the farm-team system during the 1930s, '40s, and '50s. Brooklyn's assimilation of the Dodgers into their community identity is covered quite winningly as is the heartbreak of the team's desertion to California. Last, the film takes us on a tour of some of the game's legends and presents a touching tribute to the extraordinary Babe Ruth. --Tom Keogh
When It Was a Game 3 focuses on the 1960s, a time of change for all of America. Through sharp, incredibly clear color footage of players and fans, the film shows how Major League Baseball slowly but surely evolved from pure sport to moneymaking entertainment. Covering the mighty Yankees, the western expansion of both leagues, the increasing inclusion of black players, and the rise of free agency and increased salaries, the film shows the growth of baseball from adolescence to adulthood. --Rob Lightner
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