The Brand New Testament

Baseball cards have been referenced in countless American films. My favorites only begin with 1966’s Penelope (thank you, Mark Armour!), It’s My Turn (1980, in which you get to see Michael Douglas on a card), and Spike Lee’s Girl 6 (1996). (In the latter, the title character tells Jimmy, played by Lee: “Baby, let me tell you something. You can continue to live in your little fantasy world with your baseball cards and the autographed bullshit or whatever the fuck is it you do, but me, I got to eat and pay the rent….” And Jimmy responds: “…you know, at least I got Willie Mays and Hank Aaron’s autograph on a baseball card, you know, they’re in the Hall of Fame.”)
But baseball cards do not just appear in American films. One example is The Brand New Testament (2015), a Belgian feature directed by Jaco Van Dormael. At its center is a ten-year-old girl who just so happens to be the daughter of God. But given who they are, she and her parents are not what one might expect. They reside in a cramped Brussels apartment and her father– or, God– is a loud, coarse bully. Her bathrobe-clad mother is described as “a pathetic woman, one-hundred-percent certified sloppy.” She is perpetually silent; when she doesn’t embroider, she sits at a table and contemplates her baseball card collection. (Some of the cards are seen up-close and ever-so-briefly. They do not resemble any specific set or feature recognizable players. But they are indeed baseball cards.) 

“It’s My Turn”


On the subject of onscreen baseball cards, IT’S MY TURN (1980) is the story of Ben Lewin (Michael Douglas), a recently-retired ballplayer. The film may primarily be about the crisis of a modern woman (played by Jill Clayburgh) as she realizes she is no longer a child in her father’s house, etc. But if you ever wondered what Michael Douglas would look like on a baseball card, this is the movie for you… (In one of the film’s publicity stills,  Clayburgh’s right arm is around Douglas– and she is clutching a Topps Ben Lewin baseball card. It’s hard to make out the year.)