Hall of Fame pitcher and longtime Kansas City resident Satchel Paige once ordered his outfielders to sit down and then worked his way out of a jam without their assistance. Bingo Long (Billy Dee Williams), a thinly veiled cinematic version of Paige, performs a similar stunt during The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings, a good-natured tribute to the final days of Negro Leagues baseball. James Earl Jones plays Leon Carter, a catcher based on the legendary Josh Gibson, and Stan Shaw inhabits a fictionalized Jackie Robinson named "Esquire" Joe Callaway. Buck O'Neil took issue with the film's timeline inaccuracies (Robinson never played with Gibson) and farcical depiction of Negro Leagues leadership. But judged as a loving yet comically exaggerated homage rather than a historical document, Bingo Long ranks as one of the most entertaining and underrated entries in baseball's filmography. Bingo Long screens at 1:30 p.m. in the film vault at Kansas City's Central Library (14 West 10th Street, 816-701-3400).
Saturdays, 1:30 p.m. Starts: Sept. 6. Continues through Sept. 27, 2008