1 August 2010 | Michael_Elliott
Good Film Even Without the Truth
Winning Team, The (1952)
*** (out of 4)
Pretty good, if watered down, drama about the career of Hall of Fame pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander (Ronald Reagan) who started life on the farm but quickly made a name for himself as a pitcher. When his career was apparently over he started to suffer from alcoholism but his wife (Doris Day) gets him back into shape so that he can make a comeback. Once again we have a bio-pic that has been fictionalized but even with this the movie manages to be very entertaining from start to finish thanks to some very good performances. I think there are a few minor issues with one of them being the fact that the studio forced the producer's to cut down on some of the more darker moments. The alcoholism issue is only touched for a few seconds and Alexander's battle with epilepsy is pretty much overlooked. Another minor problem is that this is a movie about Alexander yet a lot of the attention goes to the wife. Day got top-billing but this is certainly Reagan's movie but at the same time there are many scenes that are obviously here just to give Day more scenes and this includes a really bad singing sequence around Christmas time. With all of that said, the rest of the movie is pretty much a winner. Baseball fans are really going to eat up seeing how they were playing back in the day plus we get to view the old-time uniforms and even better is that we get to see some of the old baseball stadiums. There's also quite a bit of stock footage used to try and re-create some moments of the 1926 World Series, which was against the New York Yankees and their Murderers Row. This was Reagan's final film at Warner after fifteen-years worth of service and they certainly let him go out on a high note. I thought Reagan was very believable in the role and manages to look quite natural as a pitcher and he also managed to be very believable in the part of the farm boy. The early scenes with him struggling with his disease were extremely well-done and this ranks as one of the actors better performances. Day is also in top-form even though I think we could have used a little less of her character. Frank Lovejoy gets a good bit as Rogers Hornsby and we get some real-life players including Jerry Priddy, Bob Lemon, Peanuts Lowery and Irving Noren. Frank Ferguson, who most will remember from ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN, plays Day's father here. Again, if you're wanting to truth on Alexander then it's best you go read a book but if you're just looking for some quick entertainment then this film does the job.