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I GO FOR YOGI: IT AIN’T OVER

As a baby boomer growing up in the New York City area I couldn’t help being a Yankees fan. I’ve never followed sports since then, but I got caught up in Yankee fever during the Mantle-Maris era. I collected their baseball cards and chewed a lot of bubble gum in the process. Elston Howard even moved into a white neighborhood in my home town of Teaneck, New Jersey.

Now comes It Ain’t Over, an unabashed love letter to the great Yogi Berra. Yes, his name inspired the Hanna-Barbera cartoon character Yogi Bear—leaving a permanent mark on our popular culture. He was lovable and quotable (“when you come to a fork in the road, take it”), and he endorsed the irresistible Yoo-Hoo chocolate drink, but he also racked up a lifetime of incredible statistics at bat and on the field. That’s the point of writer-director Sean Mullin’s highly watchable documentary. He wasn’t just a great character; he was a great player who went on to become a great manager. How many players can you name who sport ten World Series rings?

Yogi made baseball history more than once: as the catcher working in harmony with pitcher Don Larsen for an unforgettable World Series perfect game and as the man who thought he caught Jackie Robinson out at home plate in an umpire’s judgment call that still has fans debating the result.

He deserves to be remembered and celebrated for these and his many other achievements—as well as a lifetime of devotion to his wife and family. It Ain’t Over offers testimony from family members, friends, fellow players and admirers like Billy Crystal. They all agree that Yogi lived the kind of life we wish our heroes to have: filled with love, respect, and integrity. It’s a film fans can embrace and younger generations can learn from. I loved it.

It Ain’t Over made its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival this weekend.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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