Fear Strikes Out (1957)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Biopic [feature], Sports Drama  |   Release Date - Mar 20, 1957 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Fear Strikes Out gives viewers a chance to appreciate what a fine actor Anthony Perkins was in his prime. Perkins was increasingly typecast after Psycho in roles that didn't allow him to show his range, and many of his latter performances are over the top yet tired, rehashes of things he did better previously. But Fear, a biopic of baseball's Jimmy Piersall, gives Perkins a chance to shine, and shine he does. As a young ball player whose incessant need for approval from his overbearing father leads to a nervous breakdown, Perkins is in top form; the scene in which, after hitting a home run, Perkins loses control and frantically, desperately climbs up the backstop, is beautifully executed (by both Perkins and director Robert Mulligan) and makes an indelible impression. But Perkins, as an actor, is in total control throughout, giving a wonderfully modulated performance that features many of his typical characteristics but keeps them from falling into mannerisms. Karl Malden is also excellent as the father who pushes too hard and finds nuance in a character that is written a bit too simplistically. It's true that the screenplay as a whole is a little too direct and obvious, but the actors and Mulligan's sensitive direction make up for this defect.