Saturday 13 October 2007

Headin' Home (1920) Lawrence C Windom

As our local Arizona Diamondbacks kick off the National League playoffs, everyone around pays attention and I wonder what all the fuss is about, TCM decide to show a trio of silent baseball shorts. This one is pretty notable because it stars Babe Ruth as Babe Ruth, in his film debut, and Babe Ruth was obviously somebody because even I've heard of him and I know next to nothing about baseball. I've even heard of the New York Yankees, for whom he was starting to play in 1920.

You'd expect this to be a sports story depicted entirely on the field but it's more of a light comedy biopic. This Babe is a likeable but bumbling young man growing up in a backwoods town called Haverlock. He spends his time carving baseball bats from trees, spending time with his mother and freeing his half-sister's dog from the evil dogcatcher. He's also completely lovestruck for the daughter of the corrupt local town leader. She's Mildred Tobin and she has eyes only for the new pitcher, a crook by the name of Harry Knight. Of course Knight has it in for Babe so he has to play for the opposition instead.

I'm no expert on baseball history or the lives of those who played the game, but apparently this all bears about as much relation to Babe Ruth's life story as it does to mine, making the biopic aspect of the film completely worthless. The comedy side of it isn't much better as it comes across as a tame example of what someone like Stan Laurel could pull off much better. Babe also may be the lead and the entire point of the film but he gets surprisingly little screen time, thus reducing the only thing left: celebrity appeal. He's perfectly fine for the time he's on screen but it could all have been so much more.

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