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The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (2000)

Reeve Brenner , Hank Greenberg , Aviva Kempner  |  PG |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg + Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story
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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: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005NTOI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,770 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

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.

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

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
If the point of "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg" is lost on the viewer, then history itself put the writing on the wall when the owner of the Detroit Tigers misunderstood the meaning of an old photograph of Greenberg and traded his star to the Pittsburgh Pirates for the 1947 season. Greenberg's last season in the baseball was Jackie Robinson's first, and Greenberg was in the National League to witness it first hand. Not surprisingly, Greenberg was one of the few opposing ball players to offer Robinson encouragement in breaking baseball's color line. But then, as this 1999 documentary proved repeatedly, no white player in the history of the game had been subjected to the abuse Greenberg suffered because his was Jewish. Without a doubt Robinson suffered more, maybe even more that first season than Greenberg his entire career. But this documentary also shows that Greenberg was as important to the American Jewish community as Jackie was to African Americans.
I remembered that Greenberg was the first person to win the MVP award at two different positions and that in 1935 he had 100 R.B.I.'s at the break and was not selected for the All-Star team (Manager Mickey Cochrane did not want to be accused of playing favorites with someone from his own team and picked Lou Gehrig and Jimmy Foxx instead). But what I really picked up from this documentary was how good Greenberg made the Detroit Tigers during his career. If you look at his career batting statistics you will see that Greenberg played eight full seasons and batted in over 100 runs seven times for the Tigers between 1933 and 1946 (several seasons were lost to injury and military service). The Tigers played in the World Series in 1934, 1935, 1940, and 1945, and Greenberg was the common denominator for those teams.
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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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent and moving February 5, 2002
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
I grew up in a Jewish household in the 1960s, well after Greenberg's playing days but he still was an icon for me. The film touches on a lot of points: biography, sports in America, institutionalized anti-Semitism and racism. Yet the viewer is never overwhelmed; this film really evokes a man, an era and a unique look at a unique American legend. My only quibble: I wish it had been longer and delved into Greenberg's efforts at desegregating professional baseball after his playing days.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Hero
Excellent account of Hank Greenberg's baseball career and his impact on society.
Published 2 months ago by Robert Leibowitz
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Baseball Movie!
Good movie - well done!
Published 3 months ago by Digger
4.0 out of 5 stars You get what they tell you
It was all that it said it was. I was pleased with what I got. I was satisfied with the product
Published 4 months ago by Elmer L. Keysor Jr.
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 8 months ago by Steven E. Landfried
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
5.0 out of 5 stars A solid homage to a trailblazing ballplayer
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. Read more
Published on July 24, 2005 by Robert Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars An exceptional documentary
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... Read more
Published on June 25, 2004 by Brendan
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