The Wolves baseball team gets steamed when they find they've been inherited by one K.C. Higgins, a suspected "fathead" who intends to take an active interest in running the team. But K.C. turns outs to be a beautiful woman who really knows her baseball. Second baseman Dennis Ryan promptly falls in love. But his playboy roommate Eddie O'Brien has his own notions about how to treat the new lady owner and some unsavory gamblers have their own ideas about how to handle Eddie.Written by
Director Busby Berkeley came up with an imaginative swimming number for Esther Williams and Gene Kelly but Kelly refused to partner Williams in the pool. Their only duet, "Baby Doll," was ultimately deleted from the final film, but the footage can be seen and heard on the laserdisc and DVD releases of the film. See more »
Theodore Roosevelt is portrayed as throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a baseball game. The practice of presidents throwing out the first pitch did not begin until the presidency of William Howard Taft, Roosevelt's successor. See more »
"Take Me Out To The Ball Game" and "On The Town" were both made in 1949, and they both follow MGM's house formula pretty closely. The same three heroes are in uniform again (Kelly, Sinatra and Munshin), and Betty Garrett is once more pursuing Frankie aggressively, while Munshin is the comedian and Kelly the skirt-chaser.
The action is set in the first decade of the 20th century. Ed O'Brien (Kelly) and Dennis Ryan (Sinatra) are song-and-dance men in the winter and star players for 'The Wolves', a major league baseball team, during the summer. K.C. Higgins (Esther Williams) is a rich and beautiful young woman who buys the club and becomes involved in the personal lives of O'Brien & Ryan.
Baseball is the ideal setting for a nostalgic movie of this kind, and not just because it provides a team matrix in which to slot the male stars. Baseball has a venerable history to it, so the film can be set convincingly in the past. Kelly very nearly pursued a career as short stop with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and 'The Wolves', with their overwhelmingly Irish ethnicity, are fairly obviously based on the real-life Boston Redsox.
Busby Berkeley directs in a restrained, conservative style which suits this middle-of-the-road family entertainment. Esther Williams is terrific as Katherine. She sings, she dances, she acts - and yes, she even gets to swim! Sinatra crooning a romantic ballad to Esther is one of cinema's more unlikely permutations, but it happens here.
The songs are serviceable but little more, though the lyrics are sometimes amusing, pushing metre and rhyme into interesting contortions:
"I've gone and studied up on my astrology, I'm really knowledge-y!"
The only memorable song is the title number, but that dates back to the early 1900's. A clam bake on Giddy's Landing is all-American fun and gives scope for a big production piece. Notice how Berkeley makes the most of a cramped set by filming the chorus line at an oblique angle.
If this likeable but inconsequential film has some enjoyable moments (I liked the unsporting opponent tagging out the unconscious Ryan), it also contains a few curious editing decisions. At the end of the big number at the clam bake, there is a rapid forward-reverse 'hiccup', more usually seen in pop videos. In the latter part of Kelly's solo on the wharf, the scene strangely shifts to a new set. Both Shirley and O'Brien have distracting shadows across their faces in the protracted dancing on the wharf.
The end comes a little suddenly and without proper resolution, and then we get the rather oddly tacked-on vaudeville sequence. It all works, but with considerably less polish than its sister movie, "On The Town".
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