Keith Carradine in A Winner Never Quits (1986)

A One Armed Legend

At a young age Pete Gray (Steve Rees / Keith Carradine) lost his right arm in a truck accident but it didn't stop him from trying to play baseball, not that it was easy especially with the other kids always picking him last because of his disability. But with the encouragement of his brother who helped him train and learn how to balance, catch the ball and slip his glove it pays off with Pete becoming good enough to play in the minors. But still he faced obstacles as their was those who would use him as a freak show attraction forcing him to silence them not only with his skills when it comes to baseball but also his capability in general. Along the way he meets Mare Winningham (Mare Winningham) and falls in love whilst also getting his shot at the big time when the St. Louis Browns brought him into the major leagues.

I don't think it needs me to say it but "A Winner Never Quits" is two things; firstly a biopic and secondly an inspirational movie. Now I must admit I had never heard of Pete Gray before stumbling across "A Winner Never Quits" but it makes it very clear right from the start it is a fictionalized account of his life. As such I have no idea how much fact and how much fiction there is when it comes to the story and in truth it certainly feels like the emphasis is on entertainment rather than factual dramatization especially when it comes to Pete's relationship with Annie as well as a subplot featuring a young boy who has lost his arm. But it works with a nice energy to it and some nice dramatization of a bygone era with some great slow motion footage of the baseball.

Mare Winningham in A Winner Never Quits (1986)

Talking of the baseball there is the other side of the movie and that is the inspirational tale of Pete Gray proving that losing an arm was not a barrier to achieving his dreams. It is powerful stuff with plenty of motivational scenes from young Pete pushing himself as a young boy to proving himself as capable as the next bloke when it comes to baseball. But what is nice is that whilst inspirational it isn't cloyingly sentimental like some of these made for TV movies.

Of course there is the acting and Keith Carradine is brilliant as Pete delivering the aspect of a man who has had to become resilient to deal with the staring, mocking and the need to work harder and smarter to succeed with one arm what some men can't do with two. Yes there are times when you can see Carradine's arm bent back to hide it but it doesn't matter as he makes the character right and watching him slipping the glove having caught a ball to playing pool one handed is extremely impressive. And Carradine works well with Mare Winningham who delivers another one of her sweet supporting performances as Annie. In fact the entire cast which features many well known names such as Dana Delany and Fionnula Flanagan impress.

What this all boils down to is that "A Winner Never Quits" is a very good movie and a cut above the usual thing you expect from a TV movie. It is everything you would hope for as it is inspiring, informative as well as entertaining.

Tags: Baseball Movies