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The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (2000)

Reeve Brenner , Hank Greenberg , Aviva Kempner  |  PG |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Reeve Brenner, Hank Greenberg, Walter Matthau, Alan M. Dershowitz, Carl Levin
  • Directors: Aviva Kempner
  • Writers: Aviva Kempner
  • Producers: Aviva Kempner, Ari Daniel Pinchot
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: October 16, 2001
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005NTOI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,075 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Additional interviews with Detroit Tigers fans, former teammates, and celebrities
  • Hank Greenberg biography and stats
  • Filmmaker's biography
  • Reviews
  • Director's notes

Editorial Reviews

Aviva Kempner's Peabody Award-winning documentary is about baseball like Field of Dreams is about cornfields. Kempner efficiently covers all the bases of Detroit Tigers Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg's magnificent career with archival footage and talking heads, including family members, former teammates and baseball legends, broadcasters and sportswriters, and such unabashed fans as Alan Dershowitz and Walter Matthau. If this biography's style is not remarkable, its subject certainly was. Greenberg, the son of immigrant parents, was a beacon of hope to Jews. As one observer notes, baseball was a way of "showing we were as American as everybody else." To see one of their own succeed in the national pastime at a time of virulent anti-Semitism was a source of pride and inspiration. One lifelong fan, a rabbi, states, "He was the baseball Moses." Winner of several critics association awards for Best Documentary, this is a stirring film for all seasons. --Donald Liebenson

Product Description

As baseball's first Jewish star, Hammerin' Hank Greenberg's career contains all the makings of a true American sucess story. An extraordinary ball player notorious for his hours of daily practice, Greenberg's career was an inspiration to all and captured the headlines and the admiration of sportswriters and fans alike. This is the story of how he became an American hero.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must-see for all baseball fans/history buffs August 13, 2001
Hank Greenberg was more than just a baseball superstar. He was an icon -- the pride and joy of the Jewish Americans in the 1930s and 40s amidst rampant anti-Semitism. As the first prominent Jewish player in the Major League Baseball, Greenberg not only established himself as one of the best sluggers in baseball history, but he also gave the Jewish Americans something to cheer about. He also paved a path for other baseball pioneers like Jackie Robinson as he quietly fought discrimination by letting his stats speak for themselves.
This movie isn't your typical boring documentary either. It shows a nice balance of Greenberg's baseball achievements and personal life (though I wish they focused a bit more on the baseball part) with a good mixture of old baseball footage, interviews with fans, family, friends and Greenberg himself, as well as clips from classic baseball movies such as The Pride of the Yankees. You don't have to be a baseball fan/historian to enjoy and appreciate this movie. Besides, there is nothing quite like listening to "Take Me out to the Ball Game" sung in Yiddish.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Documentary October 11, 2001
have to admit it, before watching Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, I really didn't know that much about Hank Greenberg. I of course had heard his name mentioned as 'one of the greats' and I had heard that he was one of the first openly Jewish ballplayers to play baseball, but I really knew very little about his life story. As with many great documentaries, after watching Life and Times of Hank Greenberg I now feel like I really know the whole Hank Greenberg story, and it is a pretty amazing story.
Greenberg played at a time where there simply weren't openly Jewish ballplayers. And while Hank wasn't a deeply religious person, he didn't (like some) conceal the fact he was Jewish. Hank Greenberg is known both for standing up in the face of bigotry as well as being an amazing ballplayer. Playing for the Detroit Tigers for the majority of his career, Hank Greenberg was the first player in the American League to receive the MVP award twice. In 1938 he came amazingly close to breaking Babe Ruth's single season home run record 23 years before it was broken by Roger Marris.
Life and Times of Hank Greenberg is a loving tribute to a man who didn't let bigotry get in the way of his love for baseball and never stopped giving it his all. The documentary was produced over the course of 12 years and features interviews with Hank (who is no longer living), as well as many of the ball players and children of the people he played with. Watching a movie like Life and Times of Hank Greenberg really gives you a glimpse into what makes baseball America's pasttime and something that has the ability to create legends. If you're a baseball fan I'd highly recommend you check out Life and Times of Hank Greenberg - it's a fantastic documentary.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A solid homage to a trailblazing ballplayer July 24, 2005
This film doesn't back even a quarter inch from being a documentary of a great Jewish ballplayer. The opening theme song is "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in Yiddish. It sets the tone for the whole film in perfect fashion.

One of my professors in grad school explained to me how he changed his name as a grad student in the 1930s in order to "pass" as what we would now call WASP in order to escape the "Jew quotas" placed against the hiring of too many Jewish professors. Today we forget just how anti-Semitic much of the United States was before World War II and beyond. As this documentary points out, this was especially true in Detroit, where America's premiere industrial anti-Semite, Henry Ford, held sway. The film mentions but does not expand upon Ford's anti-Semitic activity, which included paying for the printing and distribution of the wretched forgery "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," one of the most racist rags ever penned. This provides the social and historical background for this marvelous documentary history of the great Hank Greenberg, the first professional baseball star to openly embrace his ethnic background. He thus served as the Jackie Robinson of the Jews in the thirties. But there was a slight difference. Though African-Americans were discriminated against and subjugated to terrible racial injustice, there was a sense in which they were undeniably American. Jews, however, at the time enjoyed an almost outsider status, not really Americans, more in the nature of displaced Europeans. Greenberg, however, was not just a Jewish sports star, but a star in the great American game of baseball.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exceptional documentary June 25, 2004
By Brendan
I think this is a truly exceptional documentary on many different levels. First, it tells the story of one of the best baseball players in history, who often goes unrecognized for his skills. I consider myself a big baseball fan, especially in the history of baseball and stars of the past. Yet before this movie, I knew very little about Hank Greenberg. Despite being one of the best hitters at that time, Greenberg isn't talked about very often. This DVD gets his story out, and shows how dominant of a ball player he was.
A major reason that Greenberg is often overlooked when people talk about great ball players is that he spent many of his prime years serving the war effort and was away from baseball. This has kept his lifetime stats and therefore his notoriety down.
Another major reason this movie was so good was how it showed Greenberg's career in baseball as a Jewish baseball player. Although his abuse was less than what Jackie Robinson would later recieve, he still did suffer abuse. Also, he was watched and revered by the Jewish community. He was respected and admired as a Jewish man who was just as good as other American ball players, giving Jews a sense of pride. One of the best parts of the film is when the viewer learns that Greenberg talked to Jackie Robinson about playing in baseball as a minority, and gave him support.
Whether he was helping Detroit win the World Series, serving his country in the war, being a symbol of pride for the Jewish population, or giving Jackie Robinson advice, we can see that he meant a lot to a lot of people. This is a remarkable story about a remarkable man, through the lens of baseball. If you like baseball and baseball history, this movie is a must-see.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great baseball documentary
I first saw this in a theater, but bought the DVD to share with friends. The basic DVD stands up to time and the extras on the bonus DVD in the Special Edition were interesting... Read more
Published 3 months ago by S. Bassin
5.0 out of 5 stars Important perspectives on religious discrimination in baseball
The video presents another interesting and disconcerting perspective on discrimination in baseball and American society in the 1930's and 40's. . . . Read more
Published 5 months ago by Steven E. Landfried
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Deal!!
A great deal and service on a terrific video. Well worth watching. Interesting for sports fans and history buffs alike.
Published 6 months ago by oldrevenuer
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Documentary
This film is fantastic! It is my favorite documentary of all time and I'm not the only one who thinks it is a great film. It got a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes! Read more
Published 13 months ago by Jake
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gem of a Documentary
Even though I am a lifelong Detroit Tigers fan, I learned so much about this quiet man as he excelled as a baseball player. Read more
Published on October 25, 2010 by John R. Nielsen
5.0 out of 5 stars A Bigger-Than-Life Hero To Millions Of People
I've seen this promoted many times as a movie for Jewish people because it is about their first big baseball idol, Hank Greenberg. Read more
Published on November 14, 2008 by Craig Connell
5.0 out of 5 stars Hank Belongs Up There with them all.
I grew up as a Yankee Fan and still am a die heart Yankee fan now and all my life. Being Italian the great Joe D was my hero. Read more
Published on October 3, 2008 by Anthony Giacobello
5.0 out of 5 stars Greenberg, #5, 1st baseman, Detroit Tigers
The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg may be the best baseball documentary ever. Not as thorough, long or epic as ken Burns' Baseball from 1994, L&T of H.G. Read more
Published on June 28, 2008 by Aco
3.0 out of 5 stars Important Ballplayer for many reasons.
Hank Greenberg seemed like a pretty decent fellow and a whale of a ballplayer. Like many, he lost his prime years fighting those jerks in the Pacific. Read more
Published on May 1, 2003 by "johntchance"
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