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It's Good to Be Alive 1974
Description: This film features the struggles of former Brooklyn Dodger catcher Roy Campanella to adapt to life in a wheelchair following his crippling automobile accident in 1959. Cinematographer Ted Voigtlander was Emmy-nominated.
Released: 22 Feb 1974 Director: Michael Landon Writers: Steve Gethers (teleplay), Roy Campanella (book) Actors: Paul Winfield, Louis Gossett Jr., Ruby Dee, Ramon Bieri Genres: Biography, Drama, Sport
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It's Good to Be Alive Reviews:

Extraordinary movie of the life of Brooklyn Dodger star, Roy Campanella, with a solid performance by Paul Winfield as Campanella. Roy campanella was baseball's's first black catcher, Globe Series champion, and Hall of Famer, he is a legend. This is a nice sports film in the tradition of Pride of the Yankees, as it says the storyline of a baseball character whose life has turned tragic. Louis Gossett Jr. does a fine job as Sam, Campanella's physiotherapist.The film starts with Campanella wrestling with his decision of whether to stay in Brooklyn, or relocate his family to Los Angeles with his team, the Dodgers. This illustrates how petty ones issues are as compared to another peoples lot in life, and sets the scene for what is to come. The movie uses flashbacks effectively to say Roy's story. Ruby Dee is perfect as Campanella's wife, who tries to cope with the struggles her husband is going through. This movie uses current Dodger baseball film, and it is surprising how close Winfield resembles Campanella! Unlike the Lou Gerig, Gary Cooper film, this movie focuses more on Campanella's rehabilitation than with his glory years. This creates a moving movie that shows Roy's extraordinary courage in the face of despair. Without giving anything away, there is a stage with just Winfield and a fly that will haunt me for the rest of my life. Anyway, why have I not heard of this movie before, and why is it not mentioned on lists of nice sports movies? Don't miss this classic film!


We receive a front row seat to serious trials and tribulations as Roy Campanella, Major League Baseball's first black catcher, struggles to rehab from a vehicle accident that left him paralyzed below the shoulders. We receive some flashback moments to present how Roy got to where he did, but the focus is on his life after the accident, dealing with his own agonies and those of his family as they all test to cope, sometimes well, often times not.There are some trite/cliché moments in the film (including a stage very reminiscent of the Lou Gehrig farewell speech), but even those keep up well due to the quality of the acting, and the realism of the direction (Kudos to Michael Landon in his directorial debut!).Solid acting performances by all the players, and a realism (I'd like to test the word "gritty" even though it isn't quite right, but neither is any another adjective I can think of) that hit me right in the gut.I think even those who don't like sports films in general, but who appreciate a nice true life drama, would play this mostly "lost" TV movie. I'd never even heard of this before I saw it the another night, and it deserves a wider audience strictly on its merits, and even more so as an necessary piece of history many probably don't know about.


This movie is about the life of baseball user Roy Campanella following his vehicle accident that left him paralyzed back in 1958. Up until that point, he'd been a major star--having been the league's MVP and all-star many times. Apparently, the movie is based on a ebook written by Campanella about how he and his family dealt with the disability. Interestingly, this made for TV movie was directed by Michael Landon and stars Paul Winfield as Campanella.So is it worth seeing? Yes. I liked how the movie was NOT simply a schmaltzy inspirational story--a storyline that would have seemed very fake. Instead, Campanella, for a while, wallows in self-pity. Additionally, instead of bringing his family together, it just brought out the issues that were there and magnified them. All in all, a very nice movie and one that is apparently in the public domain, as it's accessible at archive.org--a site frequently linked to IMDb. My only quibbles are that of a history teacher, as some of the fashions and hairstyles are not real to the period--but, aside from nuts like me, most people won't notice or care.



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