Thursday, February 19, 2009

Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949)

Having loved On the Town, I needed to see more Kelly & Sinatra films. A baseball musical turned out to be a great choice. Not only did it have the same two main characters, but it had a number of the same character actors as well. Oh, joy!

Eddie (Kelly) and Denny (Sinatra) are baseball players and vaudeville performers. At the beginning of the movie we get to see their last act of the vaudeville season before they rush off to Florida for spring training with the Wolves. Once back with the team, they sing the strangest song about their fake exploits while on the road with the vaudeville troop, featuring a verse about a college girl who was so love struck that she stopped studying and...
"Her teachers wouldn't pass her
so she just turned on the gasser
now the sweetest girl at Vasser's
in the cold cold ground."
And oddly enough, because Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelley can sing anything, it sounds nice.

Right after being welcomed back to the team, the men find out that a new owner, K.C. Higgins, will be arriving shortly to take over management of the team. Everyone is angry to the idea of being put under tighter control by a new owner. Of course in a comedic twist of fate, K.C. Higgins turns out to be a Katherine (Esther Williams). I have only ever seen one Esther Williams musical before (and loved it), so I did not recognize Katherine as Williams when she first showed up. It wasn't until the guys watched Katherine swimming in the pool as she sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" that I realized who I was watching.

Katherine plans to clamp down on the players, giving them fines for coming in late and even offering them baseball advice. Eddie can't stand this, and the movie goes on to follow the familiar plot of woo the woman and pretend to love her so that you can get her to do what you want. Denny is assigned the job of wooing Katherine, which he does quite easily by singing a song. Unfortunately for him he goes off to bed, and Eddie rushes off to finish the wooing job, also by singing to Katherine. Denny watches horrified as Eddie appears to be stealing his new girl, not believing his pal Goldberg that Eddie is only wooing in his name. "Then what, I suppose she'll kiss him, and he'll come back and kiss me." I started to get a little worried about how easily Katherine was fooled by Eddie's act. Then Katherine charged Eddie the $50 fine for breaking curfew, and I felt much better.

Then of course much hilarity ensues. Shirley (Betty Garrett) falls for Denny at a game and stalks him mercilessly, Eddie and Katherine appear to fall for each other, all as they dance, sing, play baseball, start fist fights, have clam bakes, lie to each other, get into trouble with gamblers, try to protect each other in all the wrong ways, have a great chase scene around the bases, and dance and sing some more.

Next time I go to a game, forget the Red Sox hat... it is finally time to break out my grandmother's old hats.

This picture does no justice to the technicolor pink in the movie. And this is just one of the many wonderful hats that Katherine and Shirley wear throughout the movie.
Four stars! Four stars! Yes, it's silly and sexist, but four stars! Must see again!

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Crimson Pirate (1952)

Can you:

1) Play "I have scurvy" so successfully that your unsuspecting target will board your ship, allowing you to then jump up and take prisoners?

2)Take flying leaps through the air and bounce off of building awnings to escape a pursuing army?

3) Wear a tight fitting ladies sweater and ballet shoes and still look like a swashbuckler?

4)  Accomplish the impossible with the help of your mute but acrobatic sidekick who communicates solely through charades?

5)  Seduce damsels in distress? ("If you knew it was bolted you must have tried it, and if you tried it, you must know why it was bolted.")

6)  Plan to swindle everyone for your own pirate purposes but become a noble swashbuckler instead?

Yes?  Then you may be one of these men:
The Crimson Pirate.  A must see.  Three stars.