Mr. Baseball

Not being much of a fan of either Tom Selleck or baseball, I wasn’t looking forward to this comedy about a major league ballplayer who finds himself on a Japanese team, but it’s surprising how honestly and directly it handles American and Japanese attitudes colliding with each other. (Could this be the first instance of Japanese ownership of Hollywood studios affecting content? If so, the influence seems benign.) The producer-director, Fred Schepisi, already showed a lot of feeling for cultural clashes in his early Australian feature The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith; unlike that film, this one is no masterpiece, but it sustains interest on its own modest level. Selleck is used intelligently for what he is rather than asked to be someone he isn’trather as Howard Hawks used Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson in Rio Bravo. Written by Gary Ross, Kevin Wade, and Monte Merrick; with Ken Takakura, Aya Takanashi, Toshi Shioya, and Dennis Haysbert. (JR)

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