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The Wolves baseball team gets steamed when they find they've been inherited by one K.C. Higgins, a suspected "fathead" who intends to take an active interest in running the team. But K.C. turns outs to be a beautiful woman who really knows her baseball. Second baseman Dennis Ryan promptly falls in love. But his playboy roommate Eddie O'Brien has his own notions about how to treat the new lady owner and some unsavory gamblers have their own ideas about how to handle Eddie.Written by
The Blackburn Twins were to have a specialty dance routine in this film, however it was cut due to length. Therefore, neither the act name nor their individual names appear in either the opening or end credits. The twin brothers, Ramon Blackburn and Royce Blackburn, do still appear (uncredited) as two of the players on The Wolves. They can be seen in several group scenes of the players. For example, they are on the right and behind Gene Kelly when he first meets Esther Williams in the hotel lobby and they are seated together on Jules Munshin's right in the dinner scene. See more »
At the end of the 'Strictly USA' dance number when the dancers start to cheer, a few frames are played in reverse. See more »
In TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME, Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly play Dennis Ryan and Eddie O'Brien, two best pals who work the vaudeville circuit during the baseball off-season, but play with the Wolves club in the summer, together with their peripheral sidekick Nat Goldberg (Jules Munshin). The arrival of their new manager, however, Ms K.C. (Katherine Catherine, if you please!) Higgins (Esther Williams), annoys the heck out of man-about-town Eddie but charms the socks off girl-shy Denny. It's pretty evident before long, however, that Katherine and Denny are falling in love, just as the oh-so-timid Shirley Delwyn (Betty Garrett) sets her sights on skinny runt Denny and refuses to take no for an answer until he gives in to her. But before the guys can really get their girls, Eddie becomes embroiled in a scam perpetuated by Joe Lorgan (played by everyone's favourite grouch/bad guy Edward Arnold), who wants to take the surewin Wolves out so that he can win big by betting against them. Can Denny still get out there and play in the final match to win the pennant for Ms Higgins' Wolves?
The answer, of course, isn't important (although it's pretty obvious!), but it's rousingly given, with a healthy dose of song and dance. The Sinatra/Kelly duo are on fine, seasoned form in the universally-known title song--perhaps their best song-and-dance collaboration out of all the three films, since one gets the distinct impression in the other numbers that Kelly is playing down to Sinatra's rather limited dancing abilities. In this number, one gets no such feeling--Sinatra more than holds his own and is almost as light on his feet as Kelly (a formidable feat for an amateur!). There's also the mandatory 'boasting about girls' number, 'Yes Indeed', and the triple act with Munshin ('O'Brien To Ryan To Goldberg') that gives a hint of why Munshin is retained for a beefed-up role in the Sinatra/Kelly film to follow this one, ON THE TOWN. We even get a Sinatra solo, with him crooning 'She's The Right Girl For Me' to Williams; and a Kelly dance number to 'It's The Hat My Dear Old Father Wore On St Patrick's Day'. However entertaining the above numbers are, honours for Best Number must be unreservedly reserved for Betty Garrett's earnest rendition of 'It's Fate, Baby'--her energy simply bounces off the screen as her Shirley chases Sinatra's Denny up, down and around the bleachers. The movements are simple but tightly-choreographed, and with Garrett's enthusiasm firing the whole enterprise, becomes the most memorable musical man-chase in film history. It's pretty obvious why Garrett was asked to reprise her man-hungry duties in ON THE TOWN--she's just so damn good at it! If possible, try also to watch the deleted musical out-takes, Kelly and Williams' 'Baby Doll' (one quickly understands why it was cut), and Sinatra's serenading of Garrett 'Boys and Girls Like You And Me'. Even though the right call was made in cutting them, they're both still great fun to watch.
Just about the only problem I can find with TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME, however, is the fact that, having seen all the Sinatra/Kelly collaborations, one gets the distinct feeling that this film is just filler for what is yet to come. It even inherits the basic plot of ANCHORS AWEIGH, having the innocent Sinatra character fall for a girl obviously meant for the worldly Kelly character before finding his own brassy gal. (This is finally discarded in ON THE TOWN, although the innocence of Sinatra's character and the worldliness of Kelly's character remain.) There are no surefire hits here--Sinatra's ballads don't compare to his songs 'I Fall In Love Too Easily' and 'Why Does The Sun Set?' in ANCHORS AWEIGH, or 'You're Awful' in ON THE TOWN. Similarly, however hard Kelly tries, his solo dance number just doesn't have that same magic he lends to most of his dances. A lot of the time it's Kelly's innovative dance sequences that rise above the film in which they're contained (see COVER GIRL, ANCHORS AWEIGH, etc. etc.); in this one, it seems submerged. It's good, but not amazing; amusing, but not particularly inventive. TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME is like the shift back to neutral gear between ANCHORS AWEIGH and ON THE TOWN--a break between the innovation and joy that suffuses the other two projects (even though the final effect is somewhat botched in ANCHORS AWEIGH). In other words, it's good enough entertainment, and certainly a film I wouldn't mind watching again. But with the calibre of talent present in this film, from Kelly to Sinatra to Garrett to Stanley Donen and Betty Comden and Adolph Green, you'd expect something... well, *better*. (Which you *do* get... a year later, in ON THE TOWN.)
As a standalone film, without the perspective of its being a test run for the next vehicle in the Sinatra/Kelly oeuvre, TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME is undeniably pleasant entertainment... and unabashedly patriotic at that. It celebrates two of the greatest, truly American institutions--vaudeville and baseball. And as the song 'Strictly USA' proudly proclaims, that's something well worth celebrating--along with its two lead actors, both themselves American treasures and legends. In fact, watch the film for them. They're both as charming and funny as ever, with Sinatra taking pratfalls in Denny's misguided belief that he's a tough guy, and Kelly hamming it up a lot more than usual, but still giving off that charm that's simply unique to him. The plot's not much, and even the songs and dances aren't all that memorable (excepting Garrett's 'It's Fate, Baby' and the final tongue-in-cheek reprise of 'Strictly USA'), but it's still colourful, vibrant, and funny... the way all MGM musicals are. It's a fun night out at the movies, with a few old friends you know and love... you couldn't really ask for more than that!
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