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For some reason, Iíve always found movies about baseball and baseball players more interesting than the game itself. While I have tremendous difficulty sitting through a baseball game on television; however, you could pop in a copy of THE NATURAL or PRIDE OF THE YANKEES into the DVD player and Iíd remain glued to the set. Now, as baseball movies go, FEAR STRIKES OUT ($20) is one of the most interesting, as well as being one of the most unusual films about the game. FEAR STRIKES OUT is a biography of baseball player Jimmy Piersall, who suffered a nervous breakdown from the pressures of struggling and finally making it to the major leagues.

FEAR STRIKES OUT stars Anthony Perkins as Jimmy Piersall, who proved he could go "psycho" years before the role that would become a life long association. Actually, Perkins gives an great performance as the vulnerable Piersall, who is continually being pushed by his overbearing father John (Karl Malden), because he wants his son to fulfill his dream to play in for the Boston Red Sox. Although the process takes years, Jimmy eventually snaps while playing for the Red Sox, due to the continuous and unrelenting pressure placed upon him by his father. The cast of FEAR STRIKES OUT also features Norma Moore, Adam Williams, Perry Wilson and Peter J. Votrian.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made FEAR STRIKES OUT available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. This is actually a super looking black and white presentation that greatly benefits from the fact that FEAR STRIKES OUT was filmed in the VistaVision process. The image on the DVD is wonderfully sharp and very nicely defined. Blacks appear pure, as do the whites. Contrast is generally excellent, with the picture producing a rich and varied grayscale that gives the impression of great depth. The cleanly authored DVD keeps all signs of digital compression artifacts well camouflaged.

FEAR STRIKES OUT comes with a very pleasant sounding Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack. Background hiss and surface noise have been cleaned up, leaving the track with a nice crisp sound. Dialogue is always completely understandable, and the voices come across with a good sense of character. Of course, due to the state of recording technology in the late 1950s, there are limitations in the fidelity of the soundtrack, which does have an effect on the sound effects and the music. However, Elmer Bernsteinís terrific score still manages to come across quite well with a bit of amplification applied. A French language track has also been included on the DVD, along with English subtitles. The very basic interactive menus allow one to access the standard scene selection and set up features. No supplements have been included on the DVD.

FEAR STRIKES OUT is a solid and entertaining film biography of baseball player Jimmy Piersall that greatly benefits from Tony Perkins terrific performance. Paramount has done a truly fine job with this forty-plus year old film, offering a presentation that makes the movie seem decades younger. If you are a film buff, baseball or Tony Perkins fan, youíll definitely want to check out FEAR STRIKES OUT on DVD.



Fear Strikes Out (1957)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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