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Jim Piersall is groomed by his loving but hard-driving father (living vicariously through his son) to play major league baseball. His desire to succeed to please his father leads to mental illness and a nervous breakdown. Can he overcome those difficulties and return to the major leagues? Written by
Jerry Milani <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Even though Paramount was positioning Anthony Perkins as a major leading man, Perkins made it clear that he was first and foremost an actor and wasn't interested in a lot of publicity. His intensity made him somewhat aloof from the crew, and his obvious lack of baseball skills made the ultra-serious actor the butt of many jokes. Before long the mood on the set became tense and antagonistic between Perkins and the crew. According to Norma Moore, "Tony became more and more difficult as the film went on. By the time we were in the last third or fourth of the shoot, the crew was antagonized by him. They made snide remarks about him, and he just distanced himself." See more »
The home uniforms on all Red Sox players had two rows of piping down the front, proper for its time, except Piersall's which had no piping, a uniform not worn until much later. See more »
If this story were filmed today, the treatment would be much more stark and realistic. But for a film in the mid-50s, it provided quite a punch in conveying the agony of growing up with a loving but very demanding father. When I saw it in the theater, I never questioned Anthony Perkins as a teenager in the first part; today, this is much more difficult to swallow. Even though dated somewhat, the film is still worth a watch.
Karl Malden is excellent as a father driven by his own sense of failure to attempt to live vicariously through his son. As a result, he literally orchestrates his son's life. Never accepting the `glory' of the moment, he places constant expectations and demands on his son. Possibly this is Malden's best role.
Tony Perkins has some fine moments of anguish and neuroticism as the ball player, Jimmy Piersall. One scene between his father and him after his breakdown is superbly acted with Perkins running through a panoply of emotions. That this emotional turmoil is somewhat subdued is to the credit of the film. Norma Moore gives a competent and rather understated performance as his wife. The doctor, played by Adam Williams, is appropriately comforting, but he's not up to delivering the big line, especially in his intense scene with Malden. Regretfully, Perry Wilson as Piersall's submissive mother, didn't have more of a role.
Some very nice photography using the angularity of steps and bleachers and railroad stations conveys the underlying jaggedness and tension of emotions. Elmer Bernstein's soundtrack is effective in supporting the mood of the film.
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