The title of this movie has more to do with the relationship between big league ball player Grover Cleveland Alexander and his wife Aimee than it has to do about a successful sports franchise. As with many of these sports biopics, I learn more about the historical character from reading other movie fan reviews on this site than from the actual picture, for which I'm quite grateful.
The first thing that caught my eye was when the opening credits rolled with Doris Day billed over Ronald Reagan, somewhat backwards considering who the title character was, but probably had something to do with a contractual obligation at the time. A follow up credits screen lists the names of Major League ball players who also appeared in the film, but unless you were a die-hard fan in the Fifties, there's no way you'd recognize any of them. None of them that I recall were mentioned by name in the story.
The story has some neat anecdotal stuff in it like Alexander (Reagan) earning a buck and a half to pitch against the Galesburg team, and allowing Rogers Hornsby (Frank Lovejoy) to get a hit when his baseball career might have been on the line. A treat for old time fans would be seeing some of the early ball parks and stock footage from the mid-Twenties glory days, there's even a clip of the Babe running for first base and making an unsuccessful steal attempt at second.
In his role portraying Alexander, I thought Reagan was generally competent, although some of his mannerisms seemed exaggerated when he attempted to simulate the pitcher's bouts of dizziness and diplopia. The story's best sequences seemed to occur when Alex and Aimee (Day) shared a tender moment, while virtually every baseball scene had Alex throwing nothing but strikes, which seemed to this viewer as rather unlikely considering his real life overall record (373-208), while impressive, still had it's share of losses. An interesting side note, Alexander has the most career wins for a pitcher who never threw a no-hitter; that's for all you sports buffs.
Though the movie leaves out a lot of the real ball player's life and troubles due to epilepsy and alcohol, there's some value in catching the film for it's story of a man's perseverance in spite of obstacles to overcome. If you enjoy these era films, one you might try is another film from 1952 featuring yet another pitcher, the inimitable Dizzy Dean in "The Pride of St. Louis".
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