When it Was a Game 2
HBO
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted April 28, 2001
M O V I E
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
E - M A I L
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R E V I E W S
Graphical Version
The Movie:

Or, "When It Wasn't A Billion Dollar Business", I suppose. Regardless of one's feelings about the state of current Major League baseball, "When It Was A Game" provides a very entertaining and rich experience, as several participants narrate their feelings about the sport and incidents in its history as rare footage of baseball shot between 1925-1961 is shown. Shot by fans, families and players themselves on 8mm and 16mm cameras, this footage provides a rare glimpse of what it was like to be on the field during this time.

The film is narrated by Peter Kessler with Ellen Burstyn, Billy Crystal, Joe Manegna, Jack Palance, Jason Robards and Roy Schnider. Players from the era and others involved in baseball also contribute their thoughts as the footage plays. What pleased me most about "When It Was a Game" was that the wonderful narration really provided a highly informative and in-depth look at the highlights that really made the sport so magical at this time in history.

The combination of the elegant score, phenomenal never-before-seen footage and intelligent/informative narration really engaged me throughout the program's hour-long running time. It's a wonderful program that captures the magic of the sport better than many of the sports history programs that I've seen in the past few years, which makes it all the more unfortunate that more couldn't have been done with the DVD's release.


The DVD

VIDEO: As a text screen reminds us before the feature begins, this is 8mm/16mm footage that was shot between 1925 and 1961. That said, I was somewhat suprised at the good condition of much of the footage that was shown. Everything varies, though. Sharpness is very good at times, and at other times, the image looks soft to hazy.

At the same time, flaws go in and out. Some of the footage is in excellent condition with little wear, while other scenes have heavier marks, scratches and other flaws. Pleasantly, there wasn't anything in the way of edge enhancement or pixelation. Some grain here and there, but nothing heavy.

Colors - you guessed it - vary, too. Some scenes provide colros that are rich and vibrant, some present colors that look somewhat faded. Generally though, although there were some problems due to age, I certainly found the entire program watchable.

SOUND: The program is presented in English Dolby 2.0. The program is simply the narration and interviews, with the music being the only element that opens up the sound, if only slightly. The sound is "documentary audio" and delivers what is expected of it.

MENUS:: Very basic animated menus, but easily navigated.

EXTRAS: There are no extras.


Final Thoughts: The program itself is a very fine one, and die-hard fans of baseball history might enjoy it quite a bit. There's little to the DVD though, and as the program is only a few minutes short of an hour for the $19.99 retail price, it makes it a little harder to recommend. Baseball fans who can find it for a more inexpensive price might find it worth considering.



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