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I had previously known Joe E. Brown more from brief clips and
caricatures than from anything else, and I managed to completely forget
the fact that he had done a wonderful job in a small role in "Some Like
it Hot". Therefore, it was a pleasant surprise for me to discover that
he was much more than just a goofy looking large-mouthed guy yelling
"heeeyyyyyyy!". In this film, he does an excellent job portraying Alibi
Ike, the small town hot-shot rookie pitcher with an excuse for
everything. Even when he does everything right, he's got an excuse for
why he didn't do better.
While helping his team win the pennant, he doesn't want to admit to the boys that he's actually fallen for a girl. His teammates, who are fully aware of what is going on, playfully goad him into one crazy excuse after another as he refuses to admit his romance. Brown gets excellent support here from Olivia de Havilland as his love interest and William Frawley ("Fred Mertz") as his grumpy manager, making this a thoroughly enjoyable film.
The Chicago Cubs finally win the pennant! And it takes Joe E. Brown's immortal character Alibi Ike to do it. William Frawley once again is superb in the supporting role, as the manager. Olivia De Havilland shines as the love interest. The rest of the supporting cast which includes Ruth Donnelly and Roscoe Karns are excellent. Director Raymond Enright keeps the film moving along in good fashion. The movie is predictable but it's a lot of fun getting to the end. The ending puts a lasting smile on one's face reminiscent of the movie "Some Like It Hot". This feel good movie hits a home run with this viewer. Take yourself out to the ballgame and enjoy!
I came across this movie on TV and, though I'm usually not a huge fan of black and white movies, I found myself really enjoying this one! It's lighthearted and funny, and it was fun to watch a movie all about old time baseball as a big fan of modern baseball. The love story is basic, but worked in well, not overwhelming the baseball aspect of the movie. The fact that his love interest is the team manager's sister-in-law is interesting. And I liked the fact that the other players are always playing rookie pranks on him even though he is a young phenom. Definitely not a serious drama, and I don't think it would be hard to follow or "get" for someone who's not a sports fan as some of the newer baseball movies are. It's a great movie for a Sunday when your home team was rained out. I recommended this one to my baseball-loving friends.
I loved Lardner's short story and didn't really expect movie to have same punch. That said I love this movie; yeah, I'm a sucker for old movies. They didn't go on forever, had good pacing and terrific dialogue. This one fits the category. Joe E Brown is "goshdarnit" fun as Ike and just can't help himself. I've known people like this who have an excuse for everything. Yes, it's one joke but it's a funny one!
Alibi Ike is a mildly amusing baseball comedy based on Ring Lardner's
character of a pitcher with an excuse for everything. It's a pretty
good example of Joe E. Brown's hayseed type character at the height of
his popularity. And of course because A Midsummer Night's Dream was
held up in release, Alibi Ike marks the debut of Olivia DeHavilland on
the silver screen.
Although Olivia has little enough to do in this film which is strictly a Joe E. Brown show, she's one pretty thing here. She was only 19 when she made this film and would have to wait through another film besides this one and the Max Reinhardt extravaganza before settling into her Warner Brothers niche as crinolined heroine, yearning for Errol Flynn to win her as he did in Captain Blood.
Joe E. Brown took naturally to this role, possibly because he was known as a very big baseball fan in real life. Playing his ever harried manager in Alibi Ike is William Frawley who in real life was also known as a baseball aficionado. Brown's son, Joe L. Brown didn't follow his father into show business, he became a well respected baseball executive best known as general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates world championship team of 1960.
It's worth seeing the film alone to see how Joe E. Brown does that exaggerated windmill windup when he pitches. Funny as all get out, but in real life, a runner with the speed of Ernie Lombardi would have stolen two bases on him. Who's Ernie Lombardi, a Hall of Fame catcher with the Cincinnati Reds during this same period who was a legend for his lack of speed.
For baseball fans, and baseball film fans, make sure you don't miss this.
This movie is a nice, enjoyable way to spend a weekend afternoon.
Nothing heavy or terribly dramatic, just the very comical and
entertaining Joe E. Brown, backed by an able supporting cast.
Brown is perfect as Alibi Ike, a baseball player who is a chronic liar but somehow manages to be likable despite this rather serious fault. Olivia de Havilland is young, very pretty, and engaging as Brown's somewhat frustrated but ultimately successful fiancé. And it's a treat to see William Frawley -- crusty old Fred Mertz himself -- as the baseball manager. Frawley was a real-life baseball fanatic, so he probably really enjoyed making this movie.
I loved Brown's crazy unique wind-up before pitching the baseball. He seems to be great with physical comedy. I think I read somewhere (can't remember where, so consider this unverified) that in real life Brown was very athletic, and the reason he wore full business suits, long sleeved shirts, and loose fitting baseball uniforms throughout this movie was that his rock hard abs and well-defined biceps conflicted with the loose and easy-going character he portrayed on the screen.
Got a free afternoon or evening? I'd recommend giving this film a try. And thanks to Turner Classic Movies for broadcasting the "uncensored" version of Alibi Ike! (See the Trivia section of the IMDb Alibi Ike site for more information.)
The character of Alibi Ike was well known to the American public. There
was not only Ring Lardner's short novel but a comic strip for a couple
of years, with Ring Lardner as one of the strip's writers.
Lardner's prose was funny, but it was also an incisive exposure of the ignorance and bigotry of middle America of the 1920s. He was inditing a culture which was smug in its ignorance and prejudices. There is, of course, none of this in this Joe E. Brown comedy, designed mainly for Brown to do his familiar shtick while cruising along with a well used plot.
Warner Brothers was willing to bring social criticism into their films at this period (unlike the other studios), but they knew that it wouldn't work in a Joe E. Brown comedy. Brown's movies were designed for rural America (and were very successful), and rural America could laugh as Brown made fun of "citified ways", but they wouldn't have appreciated cogent criticism aimed at them. At least, they wouldn't have laughed.
So this is a fast comedy, pretty funny, especially for baseball fans and baseball historians.
Alibi Ike (1935)
*** (out of 4)
Third in Joe E. Brown's trilogy of baseball films has him playing Frank X. Farrell who gets the nickname of Alibi Ike because he comes up with an alibi no matter what's thrown his way. He joins the Chicago Cubs and becomes a wiz hitter and pitcher but a woman (Olivia de Havilland) falls in love with him and tries to change his ways. I really wasn't expecting too much out of this film but was pleasantly surprised at how many laughs Brown gives off. I'm sure many will find him annoying but the jokes were written very well and Brown carries them without a hitch. de Havilland is nice as the love interest and the supporting cast is nice as well. The highlight is when Brown tells his fielders to sit down behind the pitcher's mound so they can watch him strikeout the side. Many real-life baseball players can be seen on various teams and even Jim Thorpe can be spotted.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Some time ago I caught Joe E. Brown in another baseball flick, "Elmer
the Great". His character Elmer in that one was quite arrogant, and not
at all the way I remembered Brown from flicks I caught as a kid back in
the Fifties. In "Alibi Ike", Brown brings back that old time magic for
me, right down to that siren like "Heeeyyyyy" whenever he gets into a
tight spot. And then there's that fantastic double triple loopy
windmill windup he makes when setting up to pitch. Man, I could have
used that delivery as a Little Leaguer to confound the opposing
In both baseball flicks, Brown's character winds up on the Chicago Cubs, this time by way of Sauk Center. I guess we've all run across someone at one time or another who makes excuses for just about everything, but with Frank X. Farrell (Brown), he just never gives it a rest. Most of the time I had to wonder why too, because a lot of the situations on screen were slice of life stuff, like buying an engagement ring. I guess Ike was so much into the Alibi persona he just couldn't quit. Speaking of which, that was quite the double talk line he threw at the jeweler; I don't remember Brown ever using that before.
After a false start with his gal Dolly, Farrell rises to the occasion on both the ball field and in the romance department. Some of the baseball stuff is just plain silly, like calling all the players around to the pitcher's mound while Ike strikes out the side. There's also a brief interlude involving mobsters attempting to get Ike to 'throw' some games, but it's done somewhat haphazardly and blows by without much consequence. It's the physical comedy that entertains, along with Joe E. Brown's unique facials that make "Alibi Ike" a fun diversion.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
(Some Spoilers) Nice follow up to his previous baseball flick "Elmer
the Great" Joe E. Brown is the Chicago Cub's new pitching sensation
Frank X. Farrell the man with the golden arm and lighting quick swing.
What Frank's only drawback in his playing ability has nothing to do
with playing baseball: His inability to tell the truth! This lead to
him being nicknamed by his teammates and the newspapers as "Alibi Ike".
As soon as the Cubs started spring training their manager Cap, William Frawley, knew he had a pennant winning team as long as Frank's pitching arm stayed healthy. But on the very first game Cap almost whacked it by shaking Frank's hand so hard and almost breaking it! Still Frank came back strong as his pitched the Cubs into 1st place with a string of shut-out victories. It was when Frank was introduced to Cap's sister in law Dolly Stevens, Olivia De Havillan, his mind started to forget the reason he was on the Chicago Cub baseball team in the first place. To help the team win the both National League Pennant and World Series: Or "World Serious" as Frank pronounced it.
If Dolly wasn't enough to keep Frank's mind off on winning the World Series a group of gangsters headed by Lefty Crawford, Paul Harvey, were! Trying to get Frank to throw the two games he's to pitch against the NY Giants in the World Series Frank ends up getting kidnapped by Lefty's hoods after he got the word from one of his flunkies-Jimmy the Newsboy-that Frank, with Dolly's urging, is out to win not throw the final game.
Escaping from his hoodlum captors Frank makes it to the ballpark, in his pajamas, by hijacking an ambulance and then replacing the Cub pitcher who just let the Giants score the tying run. Taking the mound Frank's will-mill like pitching still wasn't enough to win it for the Cubs. Going into extra innings it was Frank's batting and running as well as jumping talents that finally made the Chicago Cubs the World Baseball Champions. By far the best scene in the movie was Frank running out an inside the park home run and preventing himself from being tagged out at the plate by flying, some six feet, over the giant's catcher instead, in what you would usually expect in situations like that, sliding away from him!
P.S Even though it wasn't the first movie that she made "Alibi Ike" was the first film released with Olivia De Havilland in it. There was also in the film the World Series between the Cubs and Giants, who incidentally are both in the same National League, playing the deciding game of the series at night! This predated the first World Series night game by some 36 years which was played on October 13, 1971 between the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates at the Pirates new ballpark Three River Stadium.
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