William Haines stars as Jim Kelly, the Yankees' ace pitcher (who is also able to knock 'em out of the parktalk about versatile!) in this enjoyable baseball comedy from MGM. The picture was a tremendous hit for Haines, who made a career out of playing cocky, wise-cracking young athletic types whose large egos threaten to stand in the way of success until an attitude adjustment integrates them back into the fold. Other Haines pictures in this mold include BROWN OF HARVARD, TELL IT TO THE MARINES, and WEST POINT. In SLIDE, KELLY, SLIDE Haines does some of his finest work, mugging excessively when in prankster mode, but also surprisingly subtle in the quieter, more reflective moments. He gives Kelly the kind of real human qualities that make us like him, laugh at him, get annoyed at him, and of course, ultimately root for him.
Haines is also surrounded by a top-notch supporting cast, all of whom make important contributions to the picture: Karl Dane as the lovable oaf, Sally O'Neil as the tomboyish object of Kelly's affections, Harry Carey as the girl's father and the Yankees' aging catcher, and Frank Coghlan, Jr. (billed as Junior Coghlan in those days) as the adorable orphan moppet who makes Kelly aspire to be a better man. These elements have all become cliché today, but watch this film with the eyes of 1927 movie-goers who thrilled to Kelly's happy-go-lucky antics even as they cheered him on in the inevitable ninth-inning climax, and you'll be swept along in its charm, too.
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