Angels in the Outfield (1951)

Angels in the Outfieldangels poster
Directed by Clarence Brown
Written by Dorothy Kingsley and George Wells; story by Richard Conlin
1951/USA
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
First viewing/Amazon Instant

Aloysius X. ‘Guffy’ McGovern: Dogs have fleas, managers have reporters.

This started out really promisingly.

“Guffy” McGovern (Paul Douglas) is the manager of the Pittsburg Pirates. He swears a blue streak, is inclined to fisticuffs, and regularly gets thrown out of games.  The Priates are having a losing season.  The local paper sends out its household hints columnist Jennifer Page (Janet Leigh) out to get the “women’s angle” on the team.  She concludes the players are disheartened by the tongue lashings they receive from their manager.

Then a miracle happens.  Guffy is visited by an angel whom he can hear but not see.  The angel promises heavenly assistance if Guffy can learn to control his temper.

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Then the cute little orphans and nuns show up.  One of the girls, Bridget, can see angels standing behind each of the players.  This hits the press and causes quite a stir.  Guffy’s angel has told him that they played together and his curiosity takes him out to the orphanage to see if he Bridget can tell him who the angel was.

Guffy, Jennifer, and Bridget all become really chummy.  In the meantime, Guffy’s archenemy (Keenan Wynne), a sports announcer, tries to get Guffy banned from the game due to insanity.  There is a hearing.  If you don’t know everything that happens in the last act of this movie, you have not been paying attention.  With Spring Byington and Ellen Corby as nuns, Lewis Stone as the baseball commissioner, and Donald Crisp in a cameo as a priest.  We also hear from Bing Crosby and Harry Ruby, playing themselves, on the subject of angels.

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This is crisply written and pretty amusing at points.  Halfway in I began thinking I had seen the movie before.  I had.  It was called “Miracle on 34th Street.” All the best stuff in this one seemed much fresher in that film.  You could definitely find worse ways to spend your time, however.

Trailer

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