Fear Strikes Out
|Fear Strikes Out|
|Directed by||Robert Mulligan|
|Produced by||Alan J. Pakula|
|Screenplay by||Ted Berkman
|Based on||Fear Strikes Out: The Jim Piersall Story
by Jimmy Piersall and Al Hirshberg
|Music by||Elmer Bernstein|
|Cinematography||Haskell B. Boggs|
|Edited by||Aaron Stell|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
Fear Strikes Out is a 1957 dramatic feature film depicting the life and career of American baseball player Jimmy Piersall. It is based on Piersall's biography Fear Strikes Out: The Jim Piersall Story, written by Al Hirshberg. The film stars Anthony Perkins as Piersall and Karl Malden as his father, and it was the first directed by Robert Mulligan.
Based on Piersall's shattering tell-all biography, the film traces Piersall's rise from the sandlots of Waterbury, Connecticut, to the Boston Red Sox professional baseball team. Karl Malden plays his domineering father who pushes him further and further.
Unable to withstand the pressure, Piersall suffers a nervous breakdown and goes to a mental institution. After a long period of therapy, Jimmy realizes that he has excelled in baseball to please his father — not for his own gratification.
- Anthony Perkins as Jim Piersall
- Karl Malden as John Piersall
- Norma Moore as Mary Piersall
- Adam Williams as Dr. Brown
- Perry Wilson as Mrs. Piersall
- Peter J. Votrian as young Jim Piersall
- Richard Bull as Reporter Slade (uncredited)
- Bart Burns as Joe Cronin (uncredited)
- Edd Byrnes as Boy in Car Assisting Jimmy Up Stairway (uncredited)
- Art Gilmore as Broadcaster (voice, uncredited)
- Brian G. Hutton as Bernie Serwill (uncredited)
- Morgan Jones as Sandy Allen (uncredited)
- Bing Russell as Ballplayer Holding Trophy (uncredited)
- Gary Vinson as High School Ballplayer (uncredited)
Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote:
|“||Oddly enough, the scenes of baseball, while interesting in this account, are secondary to the scenes of drama between the father and his son. The issues are not whether Piersall will snag those long flies or clout home runs but whether he will have the approval of his old man, sitting there in the stands. The weight of the paternal ambition is the critical factor in this film. And it is felt by the nerve-racked observer to the point where it is recognizable that the young man must go mad. ...
Fortunately, Mr. Perkins plays the young fellow excellently, not only conveying the gathering torment but also actually looking like a ballplayer on the field. And Karl Malden is compelling as the father, combining the ignorant dominance of a bitter man with the occasional tenderness of a parent who genuinely loves his only son. ...Robert Mulligan's direction is vigorous..."
- Erickson, Hal. Rovi "Fear Strikes Out" Synopsis
- Crowther, Bosley (March 21, 1957). "True-Life Story of Jim Piersall; 'Fear Strikes Out' Has Debut at the State Ballplayer Overcame a Mental Illness".
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