Former baseball player Bill Johnson, portrayed by William Bendix, failing at many jobs when his ball-playing days are over, reluctantly takes the advice of his father-in-law, Jonah Evans (...
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Former baseball player Bill Johnson, portrayed by 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>
It's sort of nice when you watch a film not expecting much, but discover an entertaining story. That was the case for this film, which I saw on TCM. William Bendix is always enjoyable as a supporting actor, but in this Columbia film he starred, as an ex-baseball player addicted to baseball, who very reluctantly takes a job as an umpire. It's especially nice to see Bendix playing with Tom D'Andrea, who was also his pal in the "Life Of Riley" television series. And, other supporting actors are Ray Collins (of Perry Mason fame), Una Merkel (as the wife), and William Frawley as the owner of the school for umpires.
While I found the film entertaining, it did have its flaws. Most annoying was seeing all the major mountains in St. Petersburg and Cocoa in Florida! Apparently there's been an awfully lot of erosion in the last 60 years since this film was made! There were a few others "errors of location", as well. But, after all, this was a relatively low budget film, and if you ignore such things, you can still enjoy the story. One other problem was that the director couldn't exactly decide what kind of comedy this was. Sentimental? Sometimes. Screwball? No, in a few places (like setting fire to the hotel and the car chase segment) it got downright slapstick. But, still, it's a pleasant enough film to watch. I couldn't help thinking, however, how Red Skelton could have made so much more of the movie.
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