Guide to Baseball Films: The 1940s

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Easily the worst baseball movie ever made, this picture is nonetheless pure concentrated American kitsch, oddly and infuriatingly memorable.

A comedy that remains amiable sixty years later. Ray Milland as the "young" professor and Paul Douglas as the "old" veteran catcher who mentors him develop a good rapport. (In real life, Milland was two years older than Douglas.) Later novelized by screenwriter Valentine Davies.

Supposedly inspired by Sam Goldwyn's sense of the dramatic in Gehrig's real-life farewell speech, this film builds toward that moment and makes the most of its dramatic potential. Gehrig's story is reconfigured as domestic drama and anchored firmly on the larger-than-life persona of Gary Cooper. The film features a notable performance by Babe Ruth as Babe Ruth.

Criticism: Bishop

James Stewart makes the most of the role of Stratton, but the picture overall is a highly routine inspirational biopic.

One of the lesser Arthur Freed/Roger Edens musicals for M-G-M. The songs by Edens (several with lyricists Betty Comden & Adolph Green) are forgettable, Gene Kelly as shortstop O'Brien mugs too much, and Esther Williams as owner and love interest K.C. Higgins spends too much time on dry land. The central premise -- that O'Brien and Ryan (Frank Sinatra) are both ballplayers and show-biz types -- is actually quite plausible; Mike Donlin, for instance, is only the most prominent of several stars who have pages at both Baseball-Reference and the IMDb.