An oldie and a goodie.

May 2, 2013 · 3 comments

Bl1_mediumI had the opportunity to watch Big Leaguer yesterday. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I can get a little cynical at times, but I was pleasantly surprised by this modest endeavor about young athletes at a New York Giants try-out camp, led by Edward G. Robinson as a kind-but-firm former Major Leaguer. Sure it was a bit dated. The conceit of the sportswriter serving as narrator is a bit cliched, reminiscent of Terrance Mann’s “People will come” monologue in Field of Dreams, as was the son-of-an-immigrant-dad who doesn’t want to let on that he’s a ballplayer, even though he’s really, really good at it. The dialogue, too, was a bit 50s “golly-gee.” I don’t want to give too much more away. I highly recommend spending the time watching the whole thing on Youtube, as I wrote in the previous post.

Jim Baker at BaseballNation picks up on a few of these quirks, including the appearance of the wasp-waisted Vera-Ellen as the obligatory love interest (and that’s not my usual typo; her name is actually hyphenated), who looks like she’d be more at home in a grade C sci-fi movie as an emotionless alien princess.

I did not realize when composing yesterday’s post that in addition to the pro ballplayers who appeared as themselves, you also had Hall of Famer Carl Hubbard as a baseball executive. He’s no Laurence Olivier (not even Carl Weathers), but he did a decent enough job. I found the character of Chuy Aguilar, a Cuban who was never without a little dictionary, interesting. Contrary to reality, his teammates/competition seemed to welcome hi with open arms. And you might recognize William Campbell, who played an “insecure braggart,” from a couple roles on the original Star Trek series. The baseball action was fair enough, although mostly done in long shots so you couldn’t see if the actual actors had any real athletic skill.

All that angst for a $150 a month contract. Heh.

 

 

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  • Paul

    Ron – I think you mean Carl Hubbell, not Hubbard. Correct? Thanks for the tip. I watched it on youtube Friday evening. Glad I watched it there and didn’t spend the $20 on the DVD on Amazon.com. It’s okay, but not in the same league as “Bull Durham,” “The Natural,” “Field of Dreams.” I would love to see “Long Gone” on DVD. I have a VHS copy of it, but that’s an excellent baseball movie that deserves more attention.

  • Ron_Kaplan

    You say “Carl Hubbell,” I say “Cal Hubbard”; let’s call the whole thing off. You are, of course, correct. I don’t think it’s fair to compare movies from different eras. One has to take into consideration the mores of the times. The kinds of productions that was embraced in the post-WWII years is way different than those in more recent times, especially movies like Durham, which contains topics and language unimaginable in the pre-boomer years.

  • Paul

    True, but I think good writing and good acting can be found 50 years ago as well as today. The original “Angels in the Outfield,” for instance, is much better than the Disney remake. And I think “It Happens Every Spring” is a good baseball movie, even though it’s 60 years old.

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