Joe Torre: Curveballs Along the Way
When Joe Torre (Paul Sorvino) returns to New York in 1995 to manage the Yankees, he's grateful just to remain in baseball. For 36 years, the Brooklyn-born Torre has participated in America's national pastime — first as a catcher and then as a manager. But his managing career hasn't been wildly successful; he's been fired from the Mets, the Braves and the Cardinals. Then Yankees' owner George Steinbrenner (Kenneth Welsh) asks Torre to manage his team. Torre and his pregnant wife, Ali (Barbara Williams), are welcomed home by the new manager's siblings. One is Frank (Robert Loggia), Joe's inspiration and a former major leaguer. At first, the Yankees don't do well, and Joe is criticized by nearly everybody. Then, the team begins its drive to first place. But Frank's heart is failing, and Joe finds his first chance to win a World Series isn't so important anymore. While Joe Torre: Curveballs Along the Way isn't a particularly briglliant docudrama, it's filled with a heartwarming appreciation for family and a clear regard for persistence in the face of adversity.
Mama Flora's Family
A troubled granddaughter gets the action going in Mama Flora's Family, which is based on a novel by Alex Haley and David Stevens. The granddaughter is Dinah (Queen Latifah). It's 1970, and she's living in Baltimore with her infant son and bottles of booze. One day, her grandmother Flora (Cicely Tyson) arrives, and takes Dinah and her baby to Flora's home in Mississippi. The highly moral old lady immediately begins rehabilitating Dinah. One of Flora's strongest tools is storytelling, particularly dramatic tales about her family. Flora's memory stretches back to 1900 and her life as a sharecropper's daughter. This good but naive girl was bedazzled into a pregnancy by a charming rake. Her baby was taken from her, a tragedy that overshadows her life. Flora turns to Jesus for solace, and he always answers her in some way, sending her a husband, another son and several grandchildren. Although Mama Flora's Family has melodramatic elements, the film is generally engrossing and occasionally enlightening.
Saints for Kids, Volume 4:
Peter, Lucy, Anthony of Egypt
Geared for youngsters ages 5–8, the Saints for Kids series introduces children to some of Catholicism's holiest people. This Pauline video series is also designed to give young viewers role models and encourage them to make holiness a personal goal. The series consists of six tapes; each contains several four-minute, animated segments devoted to a particular saint. Volume 4 highlights Peter, Lucy and Anthony of Egypt, three of the Church's earliest saints. The segment on Peter emphasizes God's forgiveness, Church leadership and the meaning of names; the segment on Lucy focuses on courage, service and praying to saints; the segment on Anthony stresses prayer and appreciation for God's creation. Although the animation is crude and the narration brief, the video manages to give children an overview of three famous and important saints. The youngsters' understanding of the lives of these threesaints will be augmented if parents consult the video's accompanying study guide for additional information. The guide includes discussion questions, vocabulary words, follow-up activities and additional study resources for children and parents.
— Loretta G. Seyer