Cobb (1994) from Tuna

Cobb is the story of sportswriter Al Stump who, during the course of his career, wrote two very different biographies of baseball immortal Ty Cobb. Stump's dilemma was whether to tell the story Cobb wanted him to, or to tell the truth. He chose to romanticize Cobb in the first biography, and not until years later did he write the story accurately. The film chronicles a trip in which Cobb and Stump traveled together to the Hall of Fame for a testimonial. Stump was to work on the (first) biography en route.

The film was directed by Ron Shelton, who has brought us many popular sports films including The Best of Times, Bull Durham, White Men Can't Jump, and Tin Cup. Cobb was not as popular at the box office as Shelton's other films, and the probable reason for that is that Ty Cobb himself, arguably the greatest ballplayer of all time, and the first inducted into the hall of fame, was a world class maniac and monster. Although the film does not neglect Cobb's brilliant baseball career, or the successful stock trading which left him very wealthy, the star is accurately shown to be a bigoted, foul-mouthed, hard-drinking, abusive bully who always carried a loaded gun (even on his death bed).  Hence, the entire film is about an extremely unsympathetic character. Roger Ebert accurately isolated the film's greatest problem in his largely unfavorable two star review: Ty Cobb was simply not someone you would willingly spend 128 minutes with.

James Berardinelli liked it better at three stars, and pointed out how well the film shows the gap between legend and real life. Both Ebert and Berardinelli are right, in my opinion. Cobb does accomplish everything it was trying to do. I found it a very well made film. Cobb was played brilliantly by Tommy Lee Jones, and Robert Wuhl did fine as the everyman, "Stumpy." On the other hand, it's a film about a despicable character, and the experience of sharing his life is often unpleasant.


DVD INFO to the left



Lolita Davidovitch showed breasts as a cigarette casino girl whom Cobb terrorized (based on a true incident).

Rhoda Griffis did a full frontal in a flashback scene depicting the night Cobb's father was murdered, an incident often thought to be the cause of his personality problems.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Super-panel consensus: 2.5 stars. James Berardinelli 3/4, Roger Ebert 2/4

The People Vote ...

  • It grossed only a million dollars in theaters.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it's a C.

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