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61*


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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In the summer of 1961, Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle took on Babe Ruth's record - the 1927 single-season 60 home run slam. It would be a summer that no one would forget. Mickey Mantle is a Yankee favorite. The natural heir to his predecessors Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, and Babe Ruth. Also at bat is a young Midwesterner, Roger Maris. Maris is Mantle's opposite in almost every way. Quiet and soft-spoken, he doesn't add up to everything a sports legend should be. As the summer of 1961 unfolds, both Maris and Mantle find themselves approaching Babe Ruth's benchmark of 60 home runs. Facing mounting pressure from the media and the stands, they both know there's only room for one winner. The people make their choice known. But the people's favorite isn't the favorite to win.

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61* is an endearing ode to the baseball days of yore when the press was the enemy, salaries were in check, and breaking records with bat and glove took on Ruthian proportions. In 1961 baseball expanded its season from 154 games to 162, allowing weaker pitching into the major leagues and two New York Yankees teammates--the colorless Roger Maris and golden boy Mickey Mantle--to make an assault on the sport's ultimate record: Babe Ruth's 60 home runs. To add to the stew, baseball commissioner Ford Frick announced any record set in the last eight games of the season wouldn't count toward the official record; records had to be achieved in 154 games.

Director Billy Crystal guarantees success for his movie in the perfect casting of the leads. Barry Pepper (Saving Private Ryan's religious sniper) is deft as Maris, and Thomas Jane is a perfect Mantle, a superman in a Yankee uniform. Despite the differences between family man Maris and hard-living Mantle, they form a rewarding friendship amid the media and fan frenzy. The shy Maris took the brunt of the storm, even facing boo-birds in his home stadium. Crystal and first-time writer Hank Steinberg keep the pace moving quickly between the field, the locker room, the press box, and the home front. The film never tries to dazzle with more than the facts (and it softens Mantle up a bit), yet it belongs on the short list of grand baseball movies. --Doug Thomas


Special Features

-Theatrical Trailer: Original Trailer for 61
-Documentary: The Greatest Summer of My Life: Billy Crystal and the making of 61*
-Music Only Track: Exclusive audio track by Director Billy Crystal
-Other: Historical information on Mantle, Maris, and 61*

Product Details

  • Actors: Various
  • Directors: Various
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: February 3, 2004
  • Run Time: 128 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (274 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005M20J
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,768 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "61*" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 65 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 19, 2001
Format: DVD
Upon its release, 61* immediately became a classic. The baseball scenes are the best of any movie ever. You never feel like you're watching actors. But the key to the movie is its realism. Thomas Jane and Barry Pepper are extraordinary as Mantle and Maris, respectively. Everything from their batting stances to the way they stand in the lockerroom is perfect. And older baseball fans will love seeing Yankee Stadium at its finest, complete with Bob Shephard as himself. In the broadcast booth comes more of 61*'s subtle brilliance. Behind Mel Allen and Phil Rizzuto is a WPIX 11 sign, which was the Yankees' flagship station for 40 years. It may not seem like much, but it is just part of the painstaking efforts to make the movie as real as possible. What many baseball movies lack is dialogue from broadcasters. They tend to say the score, situation, etc., but rarely tell stories, which---as any baseball fan knows---is how most air time is spent. 61*, however, features several moments where Rizzuto talks about lasagne he ate at a restaurant, wishing happy birthdays to fans, and joking about how the outfielders positioned themselves when he was batting. Baseball fans should eat that stuff up. The movie has minor flaws---Bob Cerv began the season with LA, for instance---but nothing that detracts from its overall greatness. Everyone involved in this movie, from Billy Crystal to all the actors, did their best to recreate the most famous season any sport has ever seen. If you are a baseball fan, you absolutely must see this movie. If you're not a baseball fan, you should still see it. Fifty years from now, 61* will be as much a classic as Field of Dreams or Bull Durham.
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137 of 149 people found the following review helpful By bedrestmom on July 22, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I am always looking for sports-themed movies for my young son, and he is especially interested in non-fiction movies. ("Miracle" and "Rudy" are two great examples.)
I read the reviews, and thought we'd give this a try. I noticed that this was marked "not rated" and just hoped for the best! Whoops! I am not offended by swearing in the context of baseball. But this has excessive use of the "F" word, which I just wasn't expecting. It was a big surprise and quite disappointing.
I only offer this review for other parents who may be contemplating this movie for kids and younger teens.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Steven Hellerstedt on August 5, 2004
Format: DVD
61* belongs on the top-shelf with the great non-fiction sports movies like BRIAN'S SONG and EIGHT MEN OUT. This is Billy Crystal's love letter to the 1961 Yankees, and to his credit it doesn't blink or flinch in its treatment of that greatest of childhood heroes, Mickey Mantle.

In 1961 Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle took aim at Babe Ruth's record of 60 home runs in a season. Barry Pepper plays the young and reclusive Maris with a haunting sadness, Thomas Jane plays the charismatic Mantle with an easy going honesty that masks an emotionally and physically injured young man. Pepper is a dead-ringer for Maris, and both actors get under the skin of the characters they're portraying. There are times when you forget they're not really Maris and Mantle. Couple their performances with 61*'s meticulous attention to detail and you've got a baseball fan's dream movie.

The dvd comes with a commentary track with director Billy Crystal, text biographies of Maris and Mantle, and a `making of' documentary. You should watch the movie before the documentary, since it contains a lot of scenes from the movie.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mark J. Fowler VINE VOICE on July 22, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Billy Crystal grew up during that time, as he tells us in the informative documentary that accompanies his fine film. He KNOWS what Yankee stadium looked like. He knows every bit of trivia about all the Yankees - their batting stances, their body language, even the way they stood in the on-deck circle.

As we discovered with McGwire and Sosa, then Barry Bonds, some of the most cherished records in any American sport are the Home Run records. We dig the long ball.

It's difficult for someone like me who was not born yet to completely imagine what it must have been like to have TWO awesome home run hitters on the SAME team bearing down on that record - and to make it even better, the record was held by Babe Ruth, who was ALSO from the same team. The Yankees, love 'em or hate 'em (I'm a National League Fan, myself) are the most legendary team in baseball, and this year was one of their most legendary.

That forms the setting for this truly entertaining story. Mickey Mantle had the movie-star aura and Roger Maris was a quiet family man from the midwest. EVERYONE was pulling for Mickey to break the record. Hardly anyone outside his own family was pulling for Roger.

It was interesting to me to see in the film just how close Mantle and Maris were in real life, and the movie argues that they probably both had a positive effect on one another. Certainly the film hints that Roger's decency as a man influenced Mickey to concentrate a little more on the game and less on drinking and womanizing. At the same time the movie shows us that as the pressure of approaching the record began bearing down on Maris, he had no bigger supporter than Mickey Mantle.
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