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Angels in the Outfield

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Clarence Brown
Produced by Clarence Brown
Written by Richard Conlin (story)
Dorothy Kingsley
George Wells (screenplay)
Starring Paul Douglas
Janet Leigh
Music by Daniele Amfitheatrof
Cinematography Paul Vogel
Editing by Robert Kern
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s) October 19, 1951 (1951-10-19)
Running time 99 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Angels in the Outfield is a 1951 black-and-white film starring Paul Douglas and Janet Leigh, directed by Clarence Brown, and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The cinematography was by Paul Vogel and the original music score was composed by Daniele Amfitheatrof.

Contents

Plot

With baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates in last place (a situation reflecting the club's real-life woes at the time), their combative, foul-mouthed manager Guffy McGovern has plenty to complain about. All this changes when, while wandering through Forbes Field at night, Guffy is accosted by the voice of an angel (voice of James Whitmore), who hints at having been a ballplayer on Earth.

As the spokes-angel for the Heavenly Choir Nine, a celestial team of deceased ballplayers, he begins bestowing "miracles" upon the Pirates — but only on the condition that McGovern put a moratorium on swearing and fighting.

With the help of the invisible ghosts of past baseball greats, the Pirates make it into the pennant race. During one crucial game, orphan Bridget White insists that she can see the angels helping out the "live" ballplayers — understandably so, since it was Bridget's prayers to the Archangel Gabriel that prompted the angel to visit McGovern in the first place.

Newspaper reporter Jennifer Page transforms Bridget's angelic visions into a nationwide news story, causing McGovern no end of trouble. When Guffy himself confirms Bridget's claims, he falls into the hands of vengeful sportscaster Fred Bayles, who has been scheming to have McGovern thrown out of baseball.

Complication piles upon complication until the Big Game, wherein Guffy is forced to rely exclusively upon the talents of his ballplayers — notably "over the hill" Saul Hellman (who, the angel has told Guffy, will be "called up" to the Heavenly Choir team shortly) — to win the pennant. Guffy also wins over Jennifer, and they plan to adopt young Bridget.

The angels themselves are never actually seen by the viewing audience, just the effects of their presence - a feather dropping, or someone being jostled from time to time. The angel who talks to Guffy never reveals who he was in life. It being a time when profanity was never used in films, the "swearing" uttered by Guffy is audio gibberish, scrambled recordings of his own voice.

Cast

Cameos

  • Bing Crosby has a short cameo in the film, playing golf, sinking a long putt. At that time, Crosby was a part owner (approximately 15%) of the Pirates.
  • Baseball greats Ty Cobb and Joe DiMaggio also can be seen in the film, along with Hollywood songwriter Harry Ruby.

Locations

The film contains extensive baseball action shots, most of which were filmed at Forbes Field,[1] the former home of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers, demolished in 1971, the year after the Pirates and Steelers moved to Three Rivers Stadium. The opening credits acknowledge "the kind cooperation of the Pittsburgh 'Pirates' for the use of the team and its ballpark," while reminding the viewer that the story is fictional and "could be any baseball team, in any league, in any town in America."

Historians may note several distinguishing features of Forbes Field at the time. One is the "Kiner's Korner" inner fence in left field, with the 365-feet left field foul line marker observable on the outer wall, and the 335-feet sign on the inner fence. The other distance markers (376-457-436-375-300) are visible in some scenes. Other objects on the field of play at Forbes are visible from time to time, including the flagpole and batting cage near the 457 foot marker in deep left center field, and the Barney Dreyfuss monument in straightaway center field.

A few closeup shots are recognizable as the Los Angeles version of Wrigley Field, a venue often used for that era's Hollywood films depicting baseball. As with both its Chicago counterpart and Forbes Field, the L.A. Wrigley featured an ivy-covered wall. Wrigley's left-center and center field markers (345 and 412) are visible in some of those shots, and of course the "Kiner's Korner" inner fence is missing.

Some stock footage alleged to be the Polo Grounds in New York City was actually Comiskey Park in Chicago, as evidenced by a quick glimpse of an auxiliary scoreboard reading "Visitors" and "White Sox".

See also

References

  1. ^ Leventhal, Josh; Jessica MacMurray (2000). Take Me Out to the Ballpark. New York, New York: Workman Publishing Company. p. 53. ISBN 1579121128.  

External links

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