Journalist Steve O'Malley wants to write a biography of a national hero who died when his car ran off a bridge. Steve receives conflicting reports and tales that make him question what the truth about the hero is.
Some other reviewer made a comment that this was the worst sports biographical film since The Babe Ruth Story that starred William Bendix as the Bambino. He might not have seen the independent productions about Jackie Robinson or Joe Louis which The Babe Ruth Story also was. There's less excuse for Follow the Sun because it was made by a major studio, 20th Century Fox.
Ben Hogan did come from poverty, he earned money as a kid as a golf caddy and learned the game and learned it could be a way out of the dire financial straits his family was in. Yet that part of the Hogan story was never really developed in Follow the Sun.
But the comeback he had after that near fatal automobile accident in 1949 is the stuff legends are made from. That part of the film is absolutely true and it was in fact the reason the film was made at all. Otherwise if someone wanted to do the Ben Hogan Story again, we'd certainly have the vantage of historical perspective now. In fact Tiger Woods is approaching the kind of numbers and the kind of impact that Hogan had in his day in the world of golf.
A whole lot of Hogan's rivals and great golfers in their own right like Dr. Cary Middlecoff, Jimmy Demaret, and Slammin' Sammy Snead all play themselves in the film. That in itself shows the respect his peers had for their rival. Grantland Rice who has never been approached in his title as dean of American sportswriters also appears as himself.
Glenn Ford is not given all that much to work with as Hogan, he was very much on the scene and could have sued if he didn't like what he saw. Anne Baxter is the best in the film as Hogan's wife Valerie who both narrates the film and has her best scenes tending to and watching over her injured husband.
Dennis O'Keefe plays the fictional Chuck Williams and too bad he was fictional because I really liked the guy. He's a happy-go-lucky sort of golfer, earn just enough to stay on tour. He has some great scenes clowning in the way Al Schacht and Nick Altrock used to do for baseball. June Havoc is his wife.
Larry Keating has a strange role as a golf writer who doesn't like Hogan because he's not accessible to the press. That frankly is his business and Keating should have known that. It was a wholly artificial plot device.
Even worse was when Ford as Hogan bears down like the competitor he always is and beats his good friend O'Keefe. Havoc takes all kinds of umbrage at that and O'Keefe is a bit put out. That was just plain dumb. Golf was the man's business and Hogan was the best and never gave less than his best. That plot device was worse than the feud with the writer.
But the scenes involving the accident and recovery were well done and maybe Ben Hogan's story could use some historical revision now.
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