Screen Directors Playhouse: Rookie of the Year (1955)
*** (out of 4)
Good drama about a down on his luck sports writer (John Wayne) who comes across the story that could get him back on top. It turns out the current Rookie of the Year (Patrick Wayne) is actually the son of a former MLB player (Ward Bond) who was kicked out of the league after throwing a World Series game. It goes without saying but this made-for-TV movie was the first time Wayne and Ford had worked on such a format but both men actually turn in a very good job and deliver a pretty good story. The story is actually a pretty good one as it contains some nice drama about what the story coming out would actually do to an innocent kid who isn't aware of the scandal and it also says a lot about what would really come about if something from the past does get a spotlight shined on it again after most people had forgotten it. The screenplay makes for some nice drama and Ford's direction is also very good and I think many could make the argument that his work here is much better than many of the theatrical films he was doing around this time. Wayne turns in a pretty strong performance as he certainly fits the part of this reporter who is on his last legs but finds this story. I thought he handled the material quite well and made for a memorable character. Bond is only in one scene but he too is powerful and Patrick Wayne does a nice job in his brief bit. Vera Miles plays the kid's girlfriend and she nearly steals the film with a memorable speech about what this story would mean if it came out. ROOKIE OF THE YEAR isn't a perfect film but if you're a fan of the cast or director then it's a must see.
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