Kill the Umpire
|Kill the Umpire|
|Directed by||Lloyd Bacon|
|Produced by||John Beck|
|Written by||Frank Tashlin|
|Music by||Heinz Roemheld|
|Cinematography||Charles Lawton, Jr.|
|Edited by||Charles Nelson|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
Bendix two years earlier had portrayed baseball player Babe Ruth in the biographical film The Babe Ruth Story. One of the ballplayers in this picture is played by Jeff Richards, billed as Richard Taylor, a minor-league ballplayer before becoming an actor.
Bill Johnson is a former baseball player whose fanatical devotion to the game has cost him several jobs. He remains steadfast in one thing: he hates umpires. Matters are complicated by the fact that his father-in-law Evans (Ray Collins) is a retired umpire.
During a period of unemployment, needing a job to support his loyal wife Betty (Una Merkel) and two daughters, Johnson is forced by his father-in-law to matriculate in an umpire school. Johnson initially tries to get himself expelled by school director Jimmy O'Brien (William Frawley), but eventually comes to enjoy his new job. He becomes an ump in the minor leagues, where blurred vision, caused by using the wrong eyedrops, causes him to see everything twice, earning him a nickname as "Two-Call" Johnson.
When he calls a visiting team’s player safe at home plate, the crowd accuses him of dishonesty, not aware that the catcher actually dropped the ball when the runner slid into home plate, leading to a near-riot during which the home team’s catcher is knocked out cold. Johnson must disguise himself as a woman, and engage in several madcap subterfuges, to get to an important game on time, but his reputation is restored when the injured catcher recovers and praises him for his honesty as an umpire. The crowd accepts this, although quickly reversing its opinion again after Johnson, inevitably, makes another call they do not like.