- 2 hr 8 min
The 2001 film 61* is a sports drama based on the quest by two baseball players, Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, to break Babe Ruth's record of hitting 60 home runs in one season. The movie was directed by Billy Crystal, and stars Barry Pepper as Roger Maris, Thomas Jane as Mickey Mantle, and Anthony Michael Hall as Whitey Ford. 61* is set in 1961, during the height of the rivalry between Maris and Mantle, who were both playing for the New York Yankees. While Mantle was the more popular and talented player, Maris was considered an outsider, having been traded to the Yankees from another team. Added to this was the controversy surrounding Ruth's record, which was set in a season that was 8 games shorter than the one in which Maris and Mantle were playing. The film masterfully portrays the complex relationship between Maris and Mantle, and the pressure they faced from the media, fans, and their own teammates. While Mantle was the darling of the team, Maris struggled to gain acceptance from his colleagues, who viewed him as an outsider. The two players also had personal differences, which were exacerbated by the media's attempt to pit them against each other. As the season wore on, tensions mounted, and Maris found himself facing unprecedented scrutiny as he approached Ruth's record. The pressure took a toll on his personal and professional life, causing him to become increasingly isolated from his teammates and even his family. Meanwhile, Mantle began to experience health problems, which affected his performance on the field. The film does an excellent job of juxtaposing the personal struggles of Maris and Mantle with the drama of their quest to break the record. The two men were both dealing with demons that threatened to derail their dream, and the film explores how they found strength in each other, even as the world was pulling them apart. In addition to Pepper, Jane, and Hall, the film features a strong supporting cast, including Richard Masur as manager Casey Stengel, Bruce McGill as broadcaster Mel Allen, and Christopher McDonald as Yankees owner, George Steinbrenner. 61* is a poignant and powerful film that captures the essence of one of the most dramatic moments in sports history. It is a testament to the strength of the human spirit, and to the enduring legacy of two men who defied the odds to achieve greatness. If you're a sports fan, this film is a must-see. Even if you're not, it will make you appreciate the power of perseverance and the importance of friendship.