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Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Metro Smacks One Out Of The Park


A Cheerful Surprise Was Angels In The Outfield (1951)

A real sleeper that audiences would remember a long time, this was one modest Metro the company didn't need to apologize for, so how come it still lost money? Harsh truth was, people just weren't going to movies like they had, so even good ones got the brush, especially when they were black and white and lacked notable stars. Angels In The Outfield came in for only a million in negative costs, an admirable economy, but still not cheap enough to assure profit at the end ($161K was loss). Maybe being about baseball was what threw the curve, or did women, who generally chose what couples/families went to see, lower a curtain? Producer-Director Clarence Brown went again on location to get nice footage at Pittsburgh playing fields where Angels was set, and there's nice feel for the game after authenticity Brown brought to auto racing in previous To Please A Lady.

The "Money Back" Gag Was Rarely Used, But Merchandising
Figured Angels For Quality That Would Back Up a Guarantee 

In fact, Lady's Clark Gable was set for the Angels lead till mere weeks before shooting, and it's a regret he didn't do it, even though Paul Douglas is fine as the profane coach of a losing team who's intervened by celestial boosters that will lend hand provided he cleans language and treats players better. One of these is Bruce Bennett in fine character mode. We forget good work this actor did after retiring the Herman Brix jersey. MGM smelled an Angels hit after Bells Of St. Mary's and The Stratton Story fashion, and aggressively ran trade ads to that effect, "guaranteeing" it would click, which it no doubt did, among the not enough patrons who came. Drat that one-eyed monster that kept patronage at home! Exhibitors "rapped" Metro, according to Variety, for failure to emphasize Angel's comedy and baseball content in pressbook ads, making it necessary for showmen to devise their own campaigns from ground up. In Leo's defense, this wasn't a movie easy to describe in a sentence, and that made selling tough.

6 Comments:

Blogger b piper said...

I'm glad gable passed. Douglas was great in the role and it fit his "big lug" image better than it would The King.

12:33 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Dan Mercer considers location timing for "Angels In The Outfield":


My taste in films tends towards the "sturm und drang," but "Angels in the Outfield" is a nice little movie. It does benefit from the location photography taken at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but you'll notice, in the long shots looking out towards the outfield, that the trees visible beyond the outfield fence are quite bare. Despite the appearance of bright, sunshiney days and the lightweight summer clothing worn by the actors, those shots were actually taken during the last weeks of winter in 1951, before the start of the baseball season in the spring, when the ball park would have been unavailable for filming. I wonder if the DVD is sharp enough to pick up the goose pimples on Janet Leigh's arms? These days, of course, Major League Baseball crams in as many games as possible, and the start of the season will not be too many days past winter. The 2015 season, for example, will begin on April 5th.

2:01 PM  
Blogger radiotelefonia said...

Hey John:

Awhile ago, you wrote about A WAY FOR A SAILOR... but in your postings you did not mention anything about this version that have became available for download (along with the Spanish versions of MIN AND BILL and THE BIG HOUSE):

http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/originals/75/fd/78/75fd78aa2b5fd358e38bc49a826893ea.jpg

5:38 PM  
Blogger Bill O said...

Would've been funnier with an off-cast Gable, who had previously only uttered "damn" in some obscure film.

7:53 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Reader "Migma" remembers some remaking of "Angels In The Outfield":


I read somewhere that Eisenhower praised the film and ranked it among his favorites.
Of course, many folks nowadays know only the Disney remake with Christopher Lloyd (who also made a TV-sequel, "Angels in the End Zone").

4:19 AM  
Blogger rnigma said...

That's "Rnigma"... and I think Disney's "Angels" remake was to help promote their recently acquired baseball team.

6:58 AM  

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