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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
-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*
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very good story about the home run race in 61'. Teaches a good lesson about friendship and the pressures that can be associated with professional baseball. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Not the best story line and the quality was inferior. The movie could not hold my teenage grandson's attention which says a lot.Published 1 month ago by Thomas Alge