Take Me Out to the Ball Game (film)
Take Me Out to the Ball Game is a 1949 Technicolor musical film produced in the Arthur Freed unit of MGM. It stars Frank Sinatra, Esther Williams, and Gene Kelly, features Betty Garrett, Edward Arnold and Jules Munshin, and was directed by Busby Berkeley. The title and nominal theme is taken from the unofficial anthem of American baseball, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game". The film was released in the United Kingdom as Everybody's Cheering.
|Take Me Out to the Ball Game|
|Directed by||Busby Berkeley|
|Produced by||Arthur Freed|
|Screenplay by||Harry Tugend|
|Story by||Gene Kelly|
|Starring||Frank Sinatra |
|Music by||see Songs|
|Cinematography||George J. Folsey|
|Edited by||Blanche Sewell|
|March 9, 1949 (NYC premiere)|
April 13, 1949 (US)
In 1908, a fictional baseball team, the Wolves, start the season on the road against the Washington Senators, and later the Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Athletics, and Cleveland Indians, all American League teams. Two of its players, Eddie O'Brien (Gene Kelly) and Dennis Ryan (Frank Sinatra), are also part-time vaudevillians. The ball club's status quo is turned on its head when the team winds up under new ownership, and the distress this causes the team is only increased when the new owner is revealed to be a woman, K.C. (Katherine Catherine) Higgins (Esther Williams). Eventually, Dennis falls for her, and then Eddie as well, while Dennis is the object of the affections of an ardent fan, Shirley Delwyn (Betty Garrett). All of them must contend with a number of gangsters led by Joe Lorgan (Edward Arnold) looking to win a big bet by impairing Eddie's play and getting him kicked off the team.
The film was announced in May 1948. It was based on a story by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, with a script by Harry Turgend. The female lead of club-owner K.C. Higgins was originally meant to be played by Ginger Rogers. However, she dropped out a month before filming and was replaced by Esther Williams. Williams also claimed that there were others up for the role of club-owner K.C. Higgins before she was selected: Judy Garland was originally slated to star, but was replaced because of substance abuse problems. Similarly, Sinatra's role of Dennis Ryan was said to have originally been intended for professional baseball manager (and former player) Leo Durocher.
Williams, a star in swimming-themed musicals, did not enjoy her experience filming with star, story-writer and choreographer Gene Kelly. In her autobiography, she describes her time on the film as "pure misery", claiming that Kelly and Stanley Donen treated her with contempt and went out of their way to make jokes at her expense. Williams asserts that Kelly was uncomfortable with the height difference between them, Williams being 5'10", while Kelly was 5'7". Williams did, however, form a strong bond with Frank Sinatra. Director Busby Berkeley originally planned a swimming number for Williams, but the idea was rejected by Gene Kelly. Instead, she has a brief swimming sequence where she casually sings the title song.
Although Busby Berkeley was hired as director by Producer Arthur Freed, he dropped out due to "exhaustion" and much of the film was directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen. Supposedly the real reason Berkeley left the production was due to chronic alcoholism and depression, though his touch can be seen in Esther Williams pool sequence.
- "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" (music and lyrics by Jack Norworth and Albert von Tilzer) - Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra, reprise by Esther Williams
- "Yes, Indeedy" (music by Roger Edens, lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green) - Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra
- "O'Brien to Ryan to Goldberg" (music by Roger Edens, lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green) - Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munshin
- "The Right Girl for Me" (music by Roger Edens, lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green) - Frank Sinatra
- "It's Fate Baby, It's Fate" (music by Roger Edens, lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green) - Frank Sinatra and Betty Garrett
- "Strictly U.S.A." (music and lyrics by Roger Edens) - Betty Garrett, Frank Sinatra, Esther Williams and Gene Kelly
- "The Hat My Dear Old Father Wore upon St. Patrick's Day" (music and lyrics by Jean Schwartz and William Jerome) - Gene Kelly
- The song "Boys and Girls Like You and Me", originally written by Rodgers and Hammerstein for Oklahoma! (1943), was filmed with Frank Sinatra singing to Betty Garrett but was cut from the released film; the video outtake survives today and is included as an "extra" on the DVD.
- "Baby Doll", sung by Gene Kelly to Esther Williams and including a dance, was deleted from the released film. This video also survives and is included on the DVD.
It received modestly positive reviews, although some reviewers felt the cast was better than the material, and the film lacked a "consistent style and pace".
Awards and honorsEdit
Harry Tugend and George Wells were nominated for the 1950 Writers Guild of America Award in the category of "Best Written American Musical". They lost to Betty Comden and Adolph Green, for On the Town, another MGM musical comedy, also produced by Arthur Freed, and also starring Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Betty Garrett and Jules Munshin, which was released four months after Take Me Out to the Ball Game.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
- The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
- Take Me Out to the Ball Game at Turner Classic Movies
- By Thomas F Brady, Special to The New York Times. (1948, May 18). Kelly, Sinatra set for Baseball Film. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/108194628
- By Thomas F Brady, Special to The New York Times. (1948, May 29). Beatrice Pearson set for Film Role. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/108194242
- Williams, Esther (1999). Million Dollar Mermaid. Harcourt Brace. ISBN 0-15-601135-2.
- Take Me Out to the Ball Game at Allmovie.com
- O'Brien, Daniel (1998). The Frank Sinatra Film Guide. BT Batsford. p. 41. ISBN 0-7134-8418-7.
- Frank Sinatra - Boys And Girls Like You And Me on YouTube
- DVD release of Take Me Out to the Ball Game at Amazon.com
- Gene Kelly's pre-recording of "Baby Doll" on YouTube
- "Top Grossers of 1949". Variety. 4 January 1950. p. 59.
- Crowther, Bosley (1949-03-10). "Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly in 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game'". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-19.
- "AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-13.