Da 5 Bloods
On the Record
I May Destroy You
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Absorbing, visual document
Dock Ellis was a brash, talented pitcher known most for pitching a no-hitter while on LSD, and for substance abuse problems throughout his career. This "dockumentary" tells his story, and with it's compelling with its interviews from childhood friends, teammates, and ex-wives, as well as his inspirational counseling work after he became clean.
Ellis was a fascinating character. On the one hand he was a leader in speaking out against ridiculous policies, for example, fighting a suspension he received for wearing curlers in his hair with the Pirates, and then later the edict that players not drink in the hotel bar while with the Rangers. He was charismatic and outspoken to the point of being proclaimed by some as "baseball's Muhammed Ali", and got a touching letter from Jackie Robinson encouraging him despite a torrent of racist threats. On the other hand, he couldn't control his drug problems, starting with the amphetamines that were rampant in baseball at the time (some in the documentary estimate 90-95% of players), but soon spreading to almost everything else: cocaine, LSD, alcohol, heroin, etc. Ellis states that he was high for every game he ever pitched in the majors. Off the field, the incident his second wife describes when he abused her with guns for five hours is horrifying, and director Jeff Radice is at his best in including footage like this, but balancing it by showing the kind, loving, affable person Ellis was 99% of the time.
Where the documentary is less successful is in including stock footage of players or cheesy animation while trying to show events from games where apparently no film exists. Inexplicably, there is also footage of the 1981 Kroc Foundation anti-drug film for kids called 'Dugout', which has little to no actual connection to Ellis and adds zero value. I would have also liked a little more content on the actual baseball, as Radice isn't all that detailed about big games in his career, apart from the no-hitter, and the time he hit the first 3 Reds players in a game on purpose. He'll take us to big events like the 1971 World Series but then not really show us all that much about Ellis's performance.
Then again it's a human story, not a hardcore look at the man's career, and it was touching to see his relationship with Roberto Clemente, and how he spiraled after Clemente's tragic death. How Ellis turned himself around, gave back, and positively affected so many people's lives is also quite touching. Lastly, it's a fascinating look into baseball, race, and drugs in the 1970's. Solid film, and worth seeing.
brilliant & compelling
Not the best baseball movie, but has a great story to tell. Inspiring and funny, but by the end I almost feel a little bad laughing at all the drug talk, as it turns a little sour near the end.
Overall, a good look at baseball in the 70s, with race relations, drugs, politics, and humour thrown in.
Watched on Netflix at home, July 4, 2016.
Well I've pitched a no hitter drunk... on a video game that I've been playing for five years. Ok, Dock won this pissing contest.
''Wolf tickets - somebody's always buying and somebody's always selling.'
At first a fascinating trip through time to the world champion '71 Pirates, and then a snapshot of race issues, and eventually a powerful and no holds barred testimony of one players' drug abuse leading to its redemptive message.
I'd have to say this is a must for diamond freaks. It has some of the drawbacks of current documentaries that struggle with a lack of footage of their subjects, but it's a very moving, funny, and sometimes frightening story.
There's more to the story than the LSD no-hitter. An interesting look at a revolutionary time in baseball.
Meh. It glamorizes a drug addicts lifestyle then wants unearned sympathy when that sane drug addict acts out. Talking head presentation doesn't really help matters.