The Babe Ruth Story
|The Babe Ruth Story|
1990 Fox Video VHS release
|Directed by||Roy Del Ruth|
|Produced by||Roy Del Ruth|
|Written by||George Callahan
Bob Considine (book and screenplay)
Babe Ruth (book)
|Narrated by||Knox Manning|
|Music by||Edward Ward|
|Edited by||Richard Heermance|
|Distributed by||Allied Artists|
|Box office||$2.4 million (US rentals)|
The Babe Ruth Story is a 1948 baseball film biography of Babe Ruth, the famed New York Yankees slugger. It stars William Bendix (New York Yankee batboy in the 1920s) as the ballplayer and Claire Trevor as his wife. It was rushed to release after news of Ruth's declining health, and makes no mention whatsoever of Ruth's first wife, Helen. Critics panned the film's heavy-handedness and direction, and it is said by many to be one of the worst films ever made.
The movie begins in 1906 at the Baltimore Waterfront, where 11-year-old George Herman Ruth Jr. is taken away by Brother Matthias from George's abusive father to St. Mary's. When George is 18, his incredible baseball talent gets him hired to play for the Baltimore Orioles, and during the interview, he gets his "Babe" nickname.
Babe becomes a successful baseball player, and is soon sold off to play for the Boston Red Sox. After a bad game, Babe wonders what went wrong at a bar, until he is told by Claire Hogsdon that when he pitches he sticks out his tongue. He continues his success, landing a new $100,000 contract. He finds Claire, but she gives him the cold shoulder. During one game, Denny, a sick paralyzed child, and his father watch Babe Ruth play. When Babe says "hiya kid" to the kid, he miraculously "uncripples" and gets up.
Babe soon becomes a player for the New York Yankees. During one game, he accidentally hurts a dog, and decides to take the dog and the dog's young owner to the hospital. After arguing with the doctors that a dog is the same as a human, the dog is healed; but because Babe left a game to do this, he gets suspended from the Yankees. A depressed Babe Ruth finds himself at a bar, and amidst the crowd giving off negative vibes, he starts a fight and gets arrested.
Soon, he decides to play Santa Claus at a Children's Hospital, where he runs into Claire again, visiting her nephew. She tells him that his actions affect the children of America, and Babe decides to keep that in mind. Miller Huggins, the same man who suspended Babe, fights to bring him back to the Yankees as the team has had a bad season. Babe is soon brought back, and the team wins the World Series thanks to him. With this, he and Claire get married. Soon after, Huggins dies from pyaemia.
During Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, Babe gets a call from the father of a dying child, and promises him that when he goes up to bat, he will call the third shot and the ball will land at a certain spot; all of this will be for the boy. During the game, Babe does exactly that, and the boy hears the news and starts to get better.
Babe retires from the Yankees at the age of 41, and takes a management position with the Boston Braves, even though they want him to play in the games despite his age. During one game, Babe gets stressed out and can't continue playing, and retires from baseball after that game. Sadly, this means he goes off contract by retiring during his time with the Braves, and is fired from anything related to baseball.
Later, Babe complains of neck pain, and soon learns that he is dying of throat cancer. The news of this leads fans to send letters telling Babe that they care. The doctors decide to try a treatment on Babe with a chance that he'll survive. As Babe is taken to surgery, the narrator give words of encouragement to baseball fans, crediting Babe Ruth for America's love of the sport.
Reviews were negative, citing the film's moments of heavy-handedness, including a scene where Babe cures a paraplegic boy just by saying "hello" in passing, as well as a contrived re-enactment of Babe Ruth's famous World Series home run against the Chicago Cubs. Ruth delivers on a promise he made to a young cancer patient that he would hit a home run. Not only does Ruth succeed in fulfilling the promise, but the child immediately shows signs of improvement.
Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe called The Babe Ruth Story "the worst movie I ever saw" while The Washington Times stated that the film "stands as possibly the worst movie ever made." The film has been called one of the worst sports films ever by Newsday and The A.V. Club, and called one of the worst biopics by Moviefone and Spike. Michael Sauter included it in his book, The Worst Movies of All Time, and Leonard Maltin called it "perfectly dreadful." The Cinema Snob, played by Brad Jones, reviewed this movie on his web series. The reviews note how inaccurate the movie is with the real Babe Ruth, making him out to be a naive and clownish man-child with a "gee-shucks" attitude. While Ruth loved life, drank, ate massive meals and womanized, he was never a fool.
- William Bendix as Babe Ruth
- Claire Trevor as Claire Hodgson Ruth
- Charles Bickford as Brother Matthias
- William Frawley as Jack Dunn
- Sam Levene as Phil Conrad
- Matt Briggs as Col. Jacob Ruppert
- Fred Lightner as Miller Huggins
- Mark Koenig as Himself
- Mel Allen as Himself
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
- "Top Grossers of 1948". Variety. January 5, 1949. p. 46. Retrieved April 15, 2016.
- Dan Shaughnessy (Apr 3, 1986). "Duke as Williams? A Prince of an Idea". Spokane Chronicle. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
- Isaacs, Stan (Feb 26, 1989). "OUT OF LEFT FIELD The 10 Worst Sports Movies Of All Time". Newsday. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
- "Worst Movie Biopics: Real-Life Catastrophes". Moviefone. November 5, 2009. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
- on YouTube
- Heller, Dick (July 23, 2000). "Clinic and reception in the works to honor NBA pioneer Lloyd". The Washington Times. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
- "The home run that cured cancer: 16 Amazing Movie Sports Feats". The A.V. Club. Oct 6, 2008. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
- "Blockbuster Hollywood Bios: The Good, the Bad, and the "Jobs"". Spike. August 16, 2013. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
- Maltin, Leonard (2003). Leonard Maltin's Movie and Video Guide 2004. Signet. ISBN 0-451-20940-0.
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-13.