Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949)
Directed by Busby Berkeley
Based on the story by Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen
Screenplay by Harry Tugen, George Wells
Starring: Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Esther Williams
Much to the dismay of the players, K.C. Higgins (Williams) has just inherited the Wolves, the best team in the American League. When K.C. turns out to be a beautiful woman, second baseman Dennis Ryan (Sinatra) changes his tune. Fellow infielder Eddie O’Brien (Kelly) soon develops his own interest in K.C..
When you talk about classic musicals you need to remember Busby Berkeley (For Me and My Gal). Berkeley’s style and vision as a choreographer and director is easily identified. This film features his directing work, but he left to choreography to Gene Kelly (An American in Paris). Kelly also stars in the film with Frank Sinatra (Guys and Dolls) and Esther Williams (Million Dollar Mermaid). The film is based on a story developed by Gene Kelly and director Stanley Donen (Charade). Harry Tugen (Pot O’ Gold) and George Wells (Designing Women) penned the screenplay.
This is a silly story about two Vaudeville style performers who spend their summers playing professional baseball. The premise sounds ridiculous, and it is. Luckily this movie finds a way to use all of these fun elements to make an entertaining movie. Like most good musicals this one knows when it’s time for a song. The story features lots of comedy, both in the action and the dialogue. This is a fun script that gave the stars plenty of room to shine.
Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra are both legends in their own right. Seeing them perform together is a great experience. This is one of three films they would star in together. Kelly puts his dancing skill on display throughout this movie. His drive for perfection is obvious throughout some of the more complicated moments in the numbers. He also plays up the comedy nicely, and has great chemistry with the rest of the cast. Frank Sinatra is also great in this one. What he lacks in dance skills, he makes up for with his voice. Together, Sinatra and Kelly make some movie magic in this one. They’re joined by a very talented cast that includes Esther Williams. She does a nice job bringing the right touch to her role in the movie. Overall, this is a solid musical that is fun to watch. It might be safe to say that this cast elevates the material.
This movie is typical of musicals from the period. Everything has the feel of a stage production brought to the big screen. The music, dancing, singing, and comedy all make it a fun one to see. If you’re a fan of baseball movies or musicals this is one to see. I would also suggest this one to fans of the stars. I give this one 3 out of 5 stars.