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TV & Film

The Babe

Ellen Adair December 22, 2021

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This week on Take Me In to the Ballgame:

Ellen Adair and Eric Gilde discuss the 1992 Babe Ruth biopic, “The Babe.” They introduce the film (1:36), with an overview of the script, the cast, and filmmakers, and review the 20-80 baseball scouting grades for rating the film (4:05). Amount of Baseball (10:01) is surprisingly baffling for a relatively objective tool, but our scouts try to parse the true amount given the unsatisfying, nothing-but-dingers nature of the gameplay. There is a sad player comp. Baseball Accuracy (15:00) dives in on this film’s Babe Ruth pitcher erasure, including striking out Ty Cobb, and inaccuracies with Ruth’s first career game and his performance in the 1916 World Series. His time with the Orioles and Jack Dunn also elided, with some unfortunate consequences including the creation of his nickname. Some examination of very young George as a rapscallion, his home life, and his time at St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, plus Brother Matthias accuracy. Did Babe Ruth ever come late to a game drunk? There are many, many timeline problems, particularly with Claire and Helen. Ellen plays a game of What Year Is It. Discussion of Joe Dugan, Dorothy, Ruth punching an umpire, Ernie Shore’s “combined” no-hitter, Eddie Bennett, Harry Frazee’s sale of Ruth, the Called Shot, the Johnny Sylvester story, the feud with Lou Gehrig, and Ruth’s “milk.” Ruth’s relationship with Miller Huggins, and his desire to become a manager himself, including anecdotes with Frank Navin and Connie Mack, are examined. WTF is up with the depiction of Ruth’s athleticism, (including his purported use of a courtesy runner)? The final game has as many problems as the rest of the film. Storytelling (1:04:02) highlights this film’s main problems: the classic biopic problem of trying to tell the entire life story, timeline jumbles, and the depiction of Ruth as a dumb man-child. Yankee Stadium propaganda. Ellen has a list of Unanswerable Questions. Score (1:20:10) envisions the scenario in which consummate professional Elmer Bernstein was asked to compose the music for this film. Acting (1:23:13) discusses this disappointing John Goodman performance, backed by a whole lot of It’s Fine. Ellen uplifts one Trini Alvarado moment. Delightfulness of Catcher (1:29:00) had so many good catcher names and Ruth’s own catcher feats as possible fodder, but nothing is made of them. Delightfulness of Announcer (1:30:31) considers the culpability of the announcers for the inaccuracies. Lack of Misogyny (1:33:40) has much to contend with given Ruth’s biographical philandering, but somehow this movie makes it so, so much worse. No spoilers on the following segments: Yes or No (1:40:39), Six Degrees of Baseball (1:44:42), Favorite Moment (1:45:22) Least Favorite Moment (1:46:45), Scene We Would Have Liked to See (1:47:47), Dreamiest Player (1:49:50), Favorite Performance (1:50:28) and Next Time (1:51:36).


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