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Offseason Movie Review: Safe at Home
2008-01-11 07:04
by Emma Span
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

 

Movie: Safe At Home (1962)
Starring: Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Bryan Russell, and William Frawley, with cameos from Ralph Houk and Whitey Ford.

Plot: Nine-year-old Hutch tries to impress his little league teammates by claiming he and his father are friends with Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, then runs away to Spring Training to try and convince the Yankee superstars to attend his team's awards banquet. Hijinx ensue, sort of.
Signature Quote: “Gosh! Gee!”

I discovered the existence of Safe at Home purely by accident a few months back, when I was, for reasons that now completely elude me, searching for information on Joe Pepitone. In an old Sports of the Times story, I came across an Arthur Daley account (sadly expensive now that "Times Select" no longer exists) of lighthearted batting-cage banter regarding Mantle and Maris’ upcoming movie premiere, and did a double-take -– Mantle and Maris starred in a movie? How come I’d never heard of it?

I can now report that this question has an easy answer: because it’s really, really bad. But it’s the middle of the offseason, and if I never hear the words “growth hormone” again it will be too soon, so I’ll sit through most any baseball movie right now. There are surprisingly few really excellent ones, anyway; Bull Durham and Bad News Bears, sure, but I’ve never been able to really get into Field of Dreams, and while I know I’m probably in the minority here I really, really can’t stand The Natural.

(Long digression: This is not so much because The Natural is long and humorless, or because Robert Redford appears to have slept through several crucial weeks of filming, but because I read the Barnard Malamud book first. And I didn’t even like the book very much, but if you read it, and then watch the end of the movie... I don't want to ruin anything, but let’s just say that in the book Roy Hobbes doesn’t hit a home run and live happily ever after. At all. In fact –- and on second thought, I'm gonna go ahead and ruin it -- Hobbes strikes out, the Knights lose the game, he tries to return the bribe money but it’s too late, everyone realizes the fix was on, his reputation and career are ruined, he’s maimed Iris with a foul ball, and the woman he loves tries to shoot him. It’s a story of failure, doom, weakness, and disgrace that makes Dostoyevsky's more downbeat works seem like Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Last line: “…he lifted his hands to his face and wept many bitter tears.”

So. Then you watch the last scenes of the movie, and as people around you are tearing up at the beautiful imagery and swelling inspirational music while Redford circles the bases in slow motion, all you can think is you have got to be fucking kidding me. It has to be one of the most cynical betrayals of the source material ever put to film, the equivalent of ending a Hamlet adaptation with a cheery wedding between the prince and Ophelia. )

That said, The Natural is a much better movie than Safe at Home, in part because it turns out that Wonderboy is able to convey a far wider range of emotions than Mickey Mantle. It seems mean-spirited to rag too much on the acting in this movie: the kids are, after all, just kids, while Mantle and Maris and Houk are amateurs. But the end result is that only one of the movie's main characters is actually played by a capable actor, and the whole thing resembles nothing so much as 84-minute version of an old Post Cereals ad.

Our protagonist, Hutch, is played by Bryan Russell, who has apparently not acted since 1967’s The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffen. He's recently moved from New York to Florida with his father, who now owns a charter fishing boat. Hutch cooks, cleans, and takes care of his father's laundry, which was almost enough to make me want children; but it's made clear that in fact Hutch's dad is putting too much adult responsibility on him. And, in a subplot never seen on the big screen before or since, is missing his Little League games because of work! When a bully starts giving Hutch crap about his father, he claims that his dad is pals with Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. The lie spins out of control, and eventually Hutch sets out for Fort Lauderdale to meet Mantle and Maris and enlist their help.

Safe At Home came out in 1962, but its heart is completely in the 50s. It takes place in a world in which every single human being is cheerful and friendly (even the bully is fairly polite), and crime is nonexistent; nothing this idyllic ever shows up on movie screens these days except at the beginning of horror films. Hutch sneaks into a spring training game, then into the team hotel (the Yankee Clipper, a pretty sweet looking ship-shaped building which apparently still exists), and no one is ever mean to him, nor do they call the Department of Child Services.

 

Mantle and Maris take a liking to him, and they're really perfectly likeable onscreen, but they appear to have seen their lines for the first time five minutes before filming began. Hutch also endears himself to the obligatory crusty old Coach -- William "Fred Mertz" Frawley, the lone capable actor mentioned above; meanwhile, Whitey Ford’s advertised cameo consists of just one completely expressionless sentence (“Houk wants to see you right away”). They should’ve got Yogi.

 

Hutch sneaks into the Yankees' spring training stadium at night, and into the locker room, where he takes a shower, puts on one of Mantle’s jerseys, and goes to sleep. Try this little trick today and you’ll be tackled by 25 armed security guards, strip searched, and shipped off to Gitmo. But just before this, the movie has its one and only surprising scene: Hutch is pretending to catch and hit on the darkened field, and accidentally sets off some loud equipment – I think it’s a pitching machine – when suddenly, he starts hearing explosions, and a loud onrushing train, which the audience never sees; his eyes widen in terror, and it pursues him around the batting cage. Then he heads into the locker room as if nothing were wrong, and the incident is never mentioned again, leaving me to spend the rest of the movie wondering if the character had suffered a complete psychotic break. No idea what the hell was happening there; it's like David Lynch came in to shoot three minutes of footage.

Anyway, eventually Hutch explains his situation to Mantle and Maris. Though they have no other plans, they refuse to come to the banquet, because Lying Is Wrong. After a stern and decidedly judgmental lecture -- “you can’t make a foul ball fair by moving the baseline, it's just not in the rules!” -- that leaves Hutch near tears, the kid agrees to tell his teammates the truth, just as his dad shows up to comfort him. (And if I were a hardworking widower fishing boat captain, I’m not sure I would take as kindly as Hutch’s dad does to parenting tips from The Mick, but never mind).

However! after Hutch makes his painful public confession, his father declares that Hutch now has two new friends -- and they’ve invited the whole little league team down to meet the Yankees and watch spring training! Everyone is thrilled, Hutch is a hero, and I try to remember why it was again, exactly, that lying was supposed to be bad and harmful, instead of totally awesome.

 

 

Next up: Rhubarb: The Millionaire Tomcat, about a cat that inherits the Brooklyn Loons baseball team. Starring Ray Milland... and a cat. Can't miss.

 

Comments
2008-01-11 08:22:08
1.   The Mick 536
Yeah! I have been a fan of the book forever, putting it in the top five of all baseball books and in my top 100 of all books which I have read. So, I am watching the movie, upset about the somewhat positve way Hobbes is being portrayed, expecting the strikeout, and he homers. What the ....

As for baseball movies, I like Bang The Drum. It follows the book, has great acting, and delivers useful messages. I also recommend anything that Mark Harris wrote, especially the book about the Nixon campaign.

Check out Alibi Ike and the baseball trilogy, starring Joe E.Brown (Osgood Fielding III of Some Like It Hot). Story written by Ring Lardner is also outstanting. I have seen only the first, many years ago. The significance of the film and its star is that Mr. Brown announced Yankee games in 1953. How would you like to listen to those.

And, I disagree about their not being worthy baseball movies. I have rewatched many, including Brewster's Millions, League of Their Own, Major League, and your personal favorites.

2008-01-11 08:41:10
2.   williamnyy23
In addition to the usual suspects, I really like a movie called Pastime. The movie is basically an interracial, serious version of Bull Durham without the love triangle (although it does have a more traditional and interesting romantic plot). If anyone hasn't seen it, they should.
2008-01-11 08:54:45
3.   Alex Belth
Joe E. Brown's son was in baseball. I'm forgetting was he the owner, or gm of the Pirates?
2008-01-11 11:49:15
4.   Sliced Bread
William Frawley's mug was made for baseball movies. Too bad this one sounds like a turkey.

What's the buzz on the Jackie Robinson movie Redford is putting out this year? He's playing Branch Rickey. Given Hollywood's Mendoza line avg. with baseball movies, I'm not expecting too much. Just hoping they don't portray Robinson as, you know, a white dude.

2008-01-11 11:54:06
5.   OldYanksFan
I must be a girly man, but I found "A League of their Own" to be an outstanding movie in many ways. Aside from "There's no crying in baseball", there were actual a number of quotables. And at the end, as the credits were rolling, they showed an 'Old Timers Game' with the actual women players... who, with grey hair and all, were hitting, running, fielding and throwing better then most of the old timers at the Yankee's Old timers day.
2008-01-11 12:01:08
6.   kylepetterson
Best baseball movie: Major League

Willie Mays Hayes: What the hell league you been playing in?
Rick Vaughn: California Penal...
Willie Mays Hayes: Never heard of it. How'd you end up playing there?
Rick Vaughn: Stole a car.

Jake Taylor: I play for the Indians.
Chaire Holloway: Here in Cleveland? I didn't know they still had a team!
Jake Taylor: Yup, we've got uniforms and everything, it's really great!

2008-01-11 12:05:43
7.   Raf
0 I've never seen "Safe at Home" but I remember it was featured in Nash & Zullo's "Baseball Hall of Shame" series

5 I thought "A League of Their Own" to be a fine baseball movie.

I think someone should rethink doing "Ball Four" as a cable series, but I don't see that happening

2008-01-11 12:14:42
8.   Raf
6 I liked Bull Durham more;

[Crash calls for a curve ball, Ebby shakes off the pitch twice]
Crash Davis: [stands up] Hey! HEY!
[walks to meet Ebby at the mound]
Crash Davis: Why are you shaking me off?
Ebby Calvin LaLoosh: [Gets in Crash's face] I want to give him the heat and announce my presence with authority!
Crash Davis: Announce your fuc-ing presence with authority? This guy is a first ball, fast ball hitter!
Ebby Calvin LaLoosh: Well he hasn't seen my heat!
Crash Davis: [pauses] Allright meat, show him your heat.
[Walks back towards the box]
Crash Davis: [to the batter] Fast ball.

2008-01-11 12:16:53
9.   Deadhorse
Fever Pitch. Best ever, yo.
Slightly off topic, is Dustin Pedroia the kid from High School Musical?
2008-01-11 12:23:33
10.   Emma Span
4 Absolutely -- William Frawley is also in Rhubarb The Millionaire Tomcat, in fact, and Kill the Umpire, AND The Babe Ruth Story. But I actually recognized him mainly from a totally awesome but deeply weird western called Rancho Notorious, directed by Fritz Lang and starring Marlene Dietrich as the operator of an outlaw hideaway called Chuck-A-Luck. Just as weird as it sounds.

Anyway, 1 there are definitely plenty of GOOD baseball movies out there, just relatively few really great ones, to my mind. But I'm a big Major League fan too -- every single thing Bob Uecker says as the announcer in that movie is hilarious. "In case you haven't noticed, and judging by the attendance you haven't..."

2008-01-11 12:25:34
11.   Chyll Will
Emma, have you ever watched "Soul of the Game"? Blair Underwood as Jackie Robinson, Delroy Lindo as Satchel Paige and Mykelti Williamson as Josh Gibson... first rate performances, solid movie all around, but never gets enough attention.
2008-01-11 12:48:21
12.   Sliced Bread
10 Looking up Frawley's bio I came across these interesting bits:

-Frawley's love for baseball and his chosen profession blended quite well as he appeared in many baseball-themed movies. Among them: "Alibi Ike" (1935), "It Happened In Flatbush" (1942), "The Babe Ruth Story" (1948), "Kill the Umpire" (1950), "Rhubarb" (1951), and "Safe At Home!" (1962).

- Frawley was a co-owner of the Hollywood Stars, a team in the minor league Pacific Coast League.

- William was a great fan of baseball and the New York Yankees. He had a clause put in his contract when he signed on to do I Love Lucy stating that if the New York Yankees won the playoffs, he was to be given time off to attend the World Series. Seven out of nine seasons the show was on the air he took off in October to attend the World Series.

2008-01-11 12:50:26
13.   Comrade Al
Whew, I am glad it's not just me! I, too, can't stand The Natural. I don't know if it's the cliches or Robert Redford ... Wait, it IS the cliches and Robert Redford.
2008-01-11 13:01:10
14.   bartap74
Even though it's centered around a Tigers pitcher trying to throw a perfect game against the Yankees, I think "For Love of the Game" is my all-time favorite baseball movie. Also, as a bonus, if you complete the baseball trivia game on the disc, you get an old time Babe Ruth movie as a bonus.

I'll also chime in on the love for A League of Their Own. That's a fine film, and the end with the ladies heading to their HOF exhibit is actually quite touching.

2008-01-11 13:02:00
15.   Rob Middletown CT
Count me in among the "League of Their Own" fans.

Bull Durham is obviously the best. Major League was also very good. I'm less of a fan of Field of Dreams, but I'll watch it. I saw The Sandlot on a bus trip down to the Stadium years ago and didn't actively hate it.

2008-01-11 13:03:43
16.   Rob Middletown CT
Ah, I forgot "For Love of the Game." It was ok. I don't have an allergic reaction to Cosner as some do, so I could watch it. It slots in above The Sandlot for me.
2008-01-11 13:09:56
17.   Comrade Al
"League of Their Own" was very good. Makes it very clear why Tom Hanks is an Oscar winner, doesn't it?
2008-01-11 13:17:19
18.   Josh Wilker
Sorely underrated and dismissed as a cheap sequel, The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training has some beautiful moments, in my opinion. If nothing else, what other movie boasts cameos from some 1970s Houston Astros (J.R. Richard, Cesar Cedeno, Enos Cabell, Ken Forsch, Bob Watson with a speaking part) in full technicolor glory? It also features Chachi's cousin, Jimmy Baio, in a starring role. "Let them play! Let them play!"
2008-01-11 13:25:23
19.   Emma Span
11 No, I'm embarrassed to say I've never even heard of Soul of the Game. I'm going to have to Netflix it... and 12 1 I'd love to track down Alibi Ike, especially because it's based on a Ring Lardner story. Used VHS, here I come.

I guess I may need to give League of Their Own another shot, too, huh? I haven't seen it since it came out, and I must have been pretty young then. I remember liking it, but the details are fuzzy.

2008-01-11 13:41:12
20.   Yankee Fan In Boston
16 was cal ripken jr.'s reaction to kevin costner considered "allergic"?
2008-01-11 13:44:44
21.   pistolpete
I saw The Natural when I was about 11 years old, so count me among the many who loved it. It's filled with clichés for sure, but the ending gets me every time.

Although I would argue that all the baseball movies since The Natural, which all seem to use the same tired formula, partially ruined that movie for a lot of people.

Hmm, or maybe you just had to be an 11-year old kid seeing it on the big screen for the first time... :)

2008-01-11 13:46:08
22.   wsporter
10 "Rancho Notorious" Mel Ferrer, Arthur Kennedy George Reaves and a cast of several. Full of fun dialog like "...He murdered her after he outraged her..." Ah Fritz good times, good times.

12 Wasn't there also a clause in there that said he could not attend day games during the regular season or go to the race track? I think Bill could bend his elbow with the best of them.

Frawley and Bill Demerest (Uncle Charlie) seemed to be in every detective comedy made in Hollywood from 1935 to 1950; I love those guys, they have such gruff American faces and voices.

2008-01-11 13:49:33
23.   JL25and3
I'm very disappointed in YouTube - no Maypo ad?

Am I the only baseball fan who didn't like Bull Durham? It might have been OK without Kevin Costner or Susan Sarandon, but the romance just makes me barf.

Baseball is its own schlocky romance, which is why I like Field of Dreams so much. OK, each time I see even part of it, Costner becomes more unbearable, and it's one of James Earl Jones's worst parts. Burt Lancaster and the ballplayers redeem the whole movie for me. (It doesn't hurt that Lancaster reminds me uncannily of my father in his later years.)

Long ago, the Million Dollar Movie used to run the same movie every afternoon for a week. That gave me a chance to see "The Winning Team," a Grover Cleveland Alexander biopic starring Ronald Reagan and Doris Day, three or four times. It's a true cinematic masterpiece, and highly informative. One thing you may not have known: Ol' Pete wasn't really an alcoholic or an epileptic. He got hit in the head in semipro ball, and an artillery shell exploded near his ear in WWI. That was the reason he got dizzy and passed out at the oddest times - nothing to do with seizures or copious quantities of alcohol, not Ol' Pete, no sirree.

2008-01-11 13:51:52
24.   ms october
11 I saw that Chyll - agree fully - I love Delroy Lindo and Blair Underwood.

I like the well known movies of Bull Durham, League of their Own, and even Field of Dreams.

Someone posted in an earlier thread that there were reports of Mike Cameron deciding between Yanks and Brewewers - looks like it is the Brew Crew.
http://tinyurl.com/2ecgsr

2008-01-11 13:53:10
25.   JimL
All the movies mentioned are great, but my favorite baseball movie is *61. I thought it was great to get a little insight to players the were done long before I became a fan. I am also a fan of The Bronx is Burning.

The only other movie I didn't see listed was THE Fan. That movie was a little out there but I thought it could happen with Bonds.

2008-01-11 14:02:09
26.   Josh Wilker
23 : "Burt Lancaster and the ballplayers redeem the whole movie for me."

My favorite part was how death convinced Joe Jackson to hit right-handed.

Which reminds me, Eight Men Out is a pretty stellar baseball movie.

2008-01-11 14:11:38
27.   Raf
23 Less romance, more interaction between Nuke LaLoosh & Crash would've been ideal. Just goes to show how mundane a baseball season can be. Day to day grind...

Has anyone seen "The Rookie?" I've thought about checking it out, but it seemed a bit schlocky to me. Great story, tho'

2008-01-11 14:15:26
28.   dianagramr
26

Good .... I'm glad someone finally mentioned Eight Men Out ... an excellent adaptation of the book.

9

This season, my $$$ roto team name is gonna be
"Pedroia Own Conclusions"

2008-01-11 14:17:04
29.   JimL
The Rookie about the cubs fan (teenager) hurts his arm and when it heals the tendons are so tight he throws 100mph? I saw it a bunch of years ago, about the same time as Angels in the Outfield. Neither are great baseball movies, but they could both be worse.
2008-01-11 14:27:52
30.   dianagramr
How do we all feel about the movie "61*" ???

I liked it overall, even if they did have to substitute Tiger Stadium for Yankee Stadium in many of the shots.

2008-01-11 14:28:41
31.   Josh Wilker
27 : I saw the Dennis Quaid flick The Rookie. It was all right, nothing too awful except for that the sound effect of his fastball was like a jet plane landing on your head. The same basic story (old guy making it to the Big Time) was done a lot better in the football story Invincible.

On another note, a great movie with a (marginal) baseball theme was The Bad Lieutenant, a baseball-talking Chris "Mad Dog" Russo as a corrosive voice inside Keitel's unraveling mind.

2008-01-11 14:31:04
32.   OldYanksFan
19 A few things. A cool 40's dance scene with 'Mae Mordabito' (Madonna).
After a binge, the girls first meet Jimmy Dugan (Hanks) when he staggers through the locker room, into the bathroom. With the traditional leaning over, one hand againt the wall for support, he starts taking a serious wiz. Sensing something monumental, Doris Murphy (Rosy O'D) starts timing it and adding commentary for the amazed women. I have to believe it the longest 'Pee' in movie history.
...................................
[During the league's publicity drive]
Mae Mordabito: What if at a key moment in the game my, my uniform bursts open and, uh, oops., my bosoms come flying out? That, that might draw a crowd, right?
Doris Murphy: What...you think there are men in this country who ain't seen your bosoms?
............................
Mae Mordabito: [to reporters] Hi, my name's Mae, and that's more than a name, that's an attitude.
............................
Doris Murphy: Hey Mae, Mae, your date's here.
Mae Mordabito: How do I look?
Doris Murphy: Where'd you get that dress?
Mae Mordabito: Borrowed it.
Doris Murphy: It don't fit you, Mae, it's too tight.
Mae Mordabito: I don't plan on wearing it that long.
Doris Murphy: Ohh. I don't know why you get dressed at all.
................................
When the Scout first finds the girls, milking some cows:
Ernie Capadino: Ow. Doesn't that hurt them?
Dottie Hinson: Doesn't seem to.
Ernie Capadino: Well, it would bruise the hell out of me.
Dottie Hinson: Can I help you with something?
Ernie Capadino: I'm Ernie Capadino. I'm a baseball scout. I saw you playing today. Not bad, not bad. You ever heard of Walter Harvey, makes Harvey bars - you know, the candy?
Dottie Hinson: Yeah. We feed them to the cows when they're constipated.
............................
Dottie Hinson: You ever been married?
Jimmy Dugan: Well, let me think... yeah, twice.
Dottie Hinson: Any children?
Jimmy Dugan: One of them was, yeah.
...................................
A classic line by an umpire
Batter argues at a called strike: That was clear inside. That was clear inside...
Umpire: Listen... yesterday that was a ball... tomorrow it might be a ball.... but today it's a strike.
...................................
Dottie's husband comes back wounded from the war, and she decide to go back home with him, just before the playoffs. Just a great, great line that should be quoted all the time.
Jimmy Dugan: Shit, Dottie, if you want to go back to Oregon and make a hundred babies, great, I'm in no position to tell anyone how to live. But sneaking out like this, quitting, you'll regret it for the rest of your life. Baseball is what gets inside you. It's what lights you up, you can't deny that.
Dottie Hinson: It just got too hard.
Jimmy Dugan: It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great.
....................................
and of course, the most famous line in baseball movie history...
Jimmy Dugan: Evelyn, could you come here for a second? Which team do you play for?
Evelyn Gardner: Well, I'm a Peach.
Jimmy Dugan: Well I was just wonderin' why you would throw home when we got a two-run lead. You let the tying run get on second base and we lost the lead because of you. Start using your head. That's the lump that's three feet above your ass.
[Evelyn starts to cry]
Jimmy Dugan: Are you crying? Are you crying? ARE YOU CRYING? There's no crying! THERE'S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!
Doris Murphy: Why don't you give her a break, Jimmy...
Jimmy Dugan: Oh, you zip it, Doris! Rogers Hornsby was my manager, and he called me a talking pile of pigshit. And that was when my parents drove all the way down from Michigan to see me play the game. And did I cry?
Evelyn Gardner: No, no, no.
Jimmy Dugan: NO. NO. And do you know why?
Evelyn Gardner: No...
Jimmy Dugan: Because there's no crying in baseball. THERE'S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!
2008-01-11 15:01:10
33.   Jon Weisman
Emma, your critique of the Natural is actually fairly common, and I don't want to argue with it per se. I also prefer the book's ending.

On the other hand, I do think a movie needs to be judged on its own merits. Faithfulness to source material is not a requirement for a good movie.

In my mind, the ending for the film works. It may not be the best possible ending, but that doesn't have to mean it's awful. I actually find it quite enjoyable.

Betraying the source material happens all the time in film - that shouldn't disqualify it from being enjoyed. It's not as if the book isn't still there for you to enjoy.

Now, if you just hated the ending on its own merits - then fire away!

2008-01-11 15:45:44
34.   Chyll Will
Loved 61* and I enjoy The Natural and Field of Dreams (particularly the music). However, I haven't sat through Bull Durham once. Huh, no one mentions Pride of the Yankees once, but The Babe Ruth Story gets play?
2008-01-11 15:59:59
35.   RIYank
I agree with Jon 33 about The Natural. (And although I loved the writing in the book, I thought the plot was lame.)

I second "Bang the Drum Slowly" (didn't read the book); it's worth watching for the TEGWAR scenes alone, and DeNiro makes what could have been maudlin into a cathartic tragedy.

I'll vote for "Eight Men Out" too, though, as my absolute favorite.

2008-01-11 16:04:02
36.   RIYank
Oh, Bull Durham. I could do without Kevin Costner's monologues, but I'd watch Susan Sarandon in just about anything. ("Atlantic City", for instance. Yikes. I'm breaking out in a sweat just thinking about it.)
2008-01-11 16:09:29
37.   dianagramr
34

You liked the music too?

OK, I bought the Field of Dreams soundtrack.

(now I don't feel so weird) :-)

2008-01-11 16:10:53
38.   Emma Span
33 Jon, I mostly agree with you, and I love plenty of movies that significantly deviate from the books they're based on. In the case of The Natural, I didn't even like the book very much. But at a certain point it just gets ridiculous -- I mean, they changed almost every single aspect of the plot and completely reversed the meaning, clearly (I think) to make it more commercial, and as a result it feels hollow to me.

I didn't like the movie on its own merits, either, but I freely admit things might have been different if I'd seen it when I was younger, or before I read the book. Who knows?

34 Ah, Pride of the Yankees... I wanted so badly to like that movie, I still can't bring myself to pan it. And you know, I could more or less deal with him promising the sick kid a home run or two, and hitting them on schedule. Fine. But when the same kid, now a teenager, came back to inspire him at the end?!? I'm sorry -- I love you, Gary Cooper, but you're asking too much.

2008-01-11 16:13:59
39.   Emma Span
36 You should have seen the Atlantic Ocean in those days...
2008-01-11 16:17:11
40.   RIYank
39 Oh, uh, yeah.

But I keep thinking about oranges...

2008-01-11 17:37:45
41.   Chyll Will
37 You shouldn't; in fact, I was gonna buy it myself. But that's not much of an endorsement for sanity >;)

38 See, I feel the opposite regarding the sick kid. If that had just appeared as a random moment of reality that occurred just between the two of them... here:

Lou walks into the Players Only entrance and into a corridor. A young man sneaks in past the police,, who are occupied with holding back the crowd. A stadium employee chases after the young man and catches him just as he catches Lou's attention from behind.

Billy: (struggling as guard tries to haul him away) Mr. Gehrig! Please, Mr. Gehrig!! I need to tell you something important! Please!

Lou stops and turns, stares momentarily...

Lou: Let him go, Jim, it's all right.

Billy collects himself and then begins.

Billy: I don't know if you remember me, Mr. Gehrig... it was some time ago and I was a little kid in the hospital... I was always a really big fan of yours and you came over to speak to me. I asked you if you could hit two home runs for me that day...

Lou: (dawning recognition and softly reflective) Yeah...

Billy: ...and you said you would, but you made me promise that if you did, then I'd have to get better and walk out of that hospital myself. Well Mr. Gehrig, you did like you said you would, and I had to try and do like I said I would... Mr. Gehrig... I just wanted to let you know...

Billy walks slowly to Lou and extends his hand. Lou looks Billy in the eye as he takes the hand and shakes it.

Lou: Are you staying for the game, Billy?

Both look at Jim, who nods slightly to the affirmative.

Lou: I gotta go. Thanks.

Billy: Thank you, Mr. Gehrig...

Lou: (glancing back) Lou...

...

Hard to improve on Mankiewicz, and who knows what Capra would have done with it, but I think that's where it could have gone without asking too much of Cooper.

2008-01-11 18:27:27
42.   Chyll Will
41 Lou's second to last line should simply be, "I gotta go" and then he turns and continues down the corridor. I guess this scene would have been much considering that his wife (Teresa Wright) was waiting around the corner for him, in which case they could have cut the scene out altogether and people really wouldn't have noticed, but if you want to tie up loose ends...
2008-01-11 20:53:18
43.   Zack
31 Yeah, but you also have to contend with Harvey Keitel full frontal. Yeeesh...

I suppose Naked Gun doesn't count, huh?

2008-01-12 03:28:18
44.   buddaley
I think I saw "Safe at Home" when it came out but don't remember a thing about it, even after your summary. If you want to see more of Mantle and Maris as "actors", this time with Yogi Berra, watch "That Touch of Mink" (1962) in which multi-millionaire Cary Grant works at impressing (seducing?) virginal Doris Day by demonstrating his pull around town. He gets her into the Yankee dugout during a game and her razzing of the umpire leads him to toss all three players from the game. It's actually a mildly amusing scene.

I hated both "Field of Dreams" and "The Natural". I simply do not like movies that try to use baseball as some sort of symbol or mystical experience. I find them heavy-handed and pretentious. And making Joe Jackson a right handed batter does not help matters.

I loved "Bull Durham" which I thought captures the mood of the game as well as any movie I've ever seen. I also liked "A League of Their Own" and "Eight Men Out", although it's possible that the latter requires some basic knowledge of the 1919 series to be enjoyed. Its plot can get confusing otherwise with all the comings and goings.

Another movie that is rarely mentioned is "Cobb". Tommy Lee Jones is terrific in it, and the story avoids the usual movie cliches and whitewashes.

2008-01-12 05:01:14
45.   Fuller R
I bought my 12-year-old "Summer Catch" for Christmas. He loves baseball and baseball movies, and I wanted him to see it because his uncle played in the Cape league while he was at GWU.

I know I enjoyed it; particularly the strong performances by Jessica Biel and Brittany Murphy.

2008-01-12 05:14:15
46.   murphy
what? no love for Little Big League? i am not kidding one bit. i LOVE this movie.
2008-01-12 06:33:04
47.   JL25and3
26 , 44 Yeah, having Jackson bat right-handed was pretty silly. (Josh, you'll recall that I mentioned it in the Marty Pattin discussion.)

At the same time, I think baseball fans have always made way too big a deal about it. After all, no one complains that Jackson looked like Ray Liotta and spoke in roughly grammatical English sentences.

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