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Ex-baseball player Bill Johnson (William Bendix'), failing at many jobs when his ball-playing days are over, reluctantly takes the advice of his father-in-law, Jonah Evans (Ray Collins), a retired umpire, and enters an umpire-training school. Assigned to the Texas League, he does fine until the championship play-offs when a riot develops over one of his calls. The involved player is knocked unconscious in the proceedings and cannot verify that Bill made the correct call. Despite lynch mob plans to at least tar-and-feather him, Bill's family - his daughters Lucy (Gloria Henry and Susan (Connie Marshall ) and his wife Betty (Una Merkel) - help Bill reach the ballpark safely the next day through a series of hair-raising encounters. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Kill the Umpire had to be a success because it appealed to the fantasy of every baseball fan in the world, the idea that he can be a better umpire than the guys out there doing it. It's kind of like folks singing in the shower and imagining their Crosby or Sinatra.
You can tell the love that went into this comedy because players Bill Bendix and Bill Frawley were both noted baseball fans. The laughs are there, but so is the reverence for the American national pastime.
Poor Bill Bendix, a former ballplayer who can't make a go of it after his playing days are over. Of course this was in the day of the reserve clause with the low salaries. Father-in-law Ray Collins tells Bendix to get back in the game in a way. Become an umpire.
This is heresy of the worst kind. Imagine John McEnroe being told to become a tennis referee. But he makes a go of it.
The scenes in umpire training school are funny enough, but what a reality check poor Bendix gets when he umpires his first game. A man used to hearing the cheers of the crowd for his exploits on the diamond. And he's assigned to the Texas League. Texas baseball fans were legendary in their treatment of umpires. Made old Brooklyn Dodger fans like Bendix himself, look like those attending the races in My Fair Lady.
Bendix and Frawley as the head of the umpire training school are reteamed after both of them were in The Babe Ruth Story. This one works far better.
It's so funny I don't even think you need to be a baseball fan to watch this and enjoy it. But it sure helps.
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