Angels in the Outfield (1951)

Directed by Clarence Brown

We once again stumble upon a film from this marathon that I have seen previously, though I cannot readily recall why I have seen this before. Certainly the Disney remake holds a special place in my childhood, and I finally get to revisit it in this marathon, being since pretty much forever since I last saw the remake. Perhaps I happened upon it one day, not realizing there was even an original to my childhood favorite. Whatever the case, my Letterboxd rating suggests I enjoyed the film, but did not think it anything spectacular. Well, with a revisit, I believe my thoughts on the film have risen, though not to the great heights of something like The Pride of the Yankees.

Not to compare the two films, as I am sure I will do again when I get around to the remake, but this films premise is slightly different from that of the remake, and in many ways superior. Tasked with discerning, from a female perspective, why the Pirates are so horrible this year, Jennifer Paige (Janet Leigh) begins covering the team and discovers the teams poor play is universally bad, and therefore blames the teams manager, Guffy McGovern (Paul Douglas), whose penchant for arguing and fighting brings the team morale and confidence down. But when an angel begins to converse with Guffy, the team begins to play better, and when a little orphan girl sees angels on the field one game, the whole city becomes caught up in the race for the National League pennant, as the Pirates surge.

Most of the films to this point, save The Pride of the Yankees, have been fairly light fare as far as content goes. Goofy baseball comedies meant to delight. However, this film adds to that formula with some morality, literally bringing in the angels of Heaven’s Choir, the angelic baseball team. Seeing the character arc of McGovern is a rewarding experience as we see him mature and learn what it means to be a good manager, and a good role model. Douglas is good in the role. Janet Leigh is also fun to watch. I found it very interesting the films ability to pull everything off without showing the angels at all. Of course given the technology at the time, it would have been a difficult effect I imagine to pull off, but in many ways, having the angels not be visible to the viewer seemed to work greatly, showcasing the characters much more than focusing on the effects of the angels on the team/manager. It will be interesting to compare to the remake since I know the angels, like Christopher Lloyd, are much more involved in things. Angels in the Outfield is a nice little baseball tale.

*** – Very Good

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