Guide to Baseball Films: The 1950s
- Angels in the Outfield. (1951) Dir. Clarence Brown. A home-hints reporter, a young orphan girl, and unseen angels help transform the crusty manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates and lead his team to victory.
A quirky and interesting picture that combines magical-realist baseball elements with a story of a lonely man who creates a family for himself out of various unattached women. From an original story by Richard Conlin; remade with less success in 1994.
- Bang the Drum Slowly. (1956) Dir. Daniel Petrie. A wisecracking star pitcher must deal with the terminal illness of his room-mate, a slow-witted catcher.
- Damn Yankees. (1958) Dir. George Abbott and Stanley Donen. Aging Senators fan sells his soul for a pennant.
Musical adaptation of Douglas Wallop's novel The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant, via Broadway. A pretty static transcription, though it does preserve charming performances by Ray Walston and Gwen Verdon, as well Bob Fosse's choreography and dancing.
- Fear Strikes Out. (1956) Dir. Robert Mulligan. Jimmy Piersall fights free of his personal demons and his overbearing father.
Anthony Perkins turns in an inventive performance as Piersall, and Karl Malden does his best to add some humanity to the father's suffocating parenting style.
- The Jackie Robinson Story. (1950) Dir. Alfred E. Green. Jackie Robinson becomes the first African-American major leaguer.
Robinson plays himself in this bland and stilted biopic.
- The Winning Team. (1952) Dir. Lewis Seiler. Grover Cleveland Alexander grows to manhood, wins the love of his neighbor Aimee, stars for the Phillies, falls victim to epilepsy, and comes back to lead the Cardinals to a World Series victory.
Takes the Pride of the Yankees formula to its most saccharine extremes. That formula had already taken a step towards banality in The Stratton Story, but The Winning Team has a less sympathetic hero to start with and must manipulate its audience with more melodramatic gimmicks into cheering for him.