|TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME (1949)|
|"Fast worker, that boy. He just met her and he's already rounding third."|
|Time: 93 mins.|
Rating: Not Rated
SYNOPSIS: Two members of a turn-of-the-century baseball team are vaudeville performers in the off-season. When their first-place ballclub is inherited by a pretty, baseball savvy, young woman, neither the team nor the local gamblers are very happy, each trying to ruin her success.
BOTTOM LINE: In their second pairing together, Kelly and Sinatra continue to play the roles assigned to them when onscreen together. Kelly is the suave lothario and Sinatra the naive novice both looking for the woman of their dreams, as long as they aren't too much trouble. The "lucky ladies" are played by Williams and Garrett, who are almost more than the men can handle and yet they fail to create much chemistry with their partners. Though talented, sometimes just plugging in whomever is available isn't the best idea. The story doesn't give them much help either. Mainly because the musical numbers don't really work within the framework of the gritty world of major league baseball. There's no doubt that ballplayers needed to have a second job during the off-season in that era, it's just too hard to swallow that the best infield in the league would also be a singing and dancing sensation on the vaudeville circuit. The boys manage to be convincing as ballplayers, mainly because there isn't much ball being played. The numbers are fun, but meaningless in driving the overall story, slowing the action down to a crawl.
The film centers mostly on the romance, which is uneven and obvious. Garrett's incessant chasing of Sinatra is sweet and funny, yet doesn't exactly pull at the heartstrings. Kelly and Williams' loath/love/loath seesaw fails to generate the passion needed to create an honest connection. The mob machinations are merely inserted to fill time between dance numbers and to give the end of the baseball season some actual meaning. However, the biggest flaw is the lack of any memorable songs, with the exception of the title tune. Sure Kelly and Sinatra can sing anything and make it sound good, but there's nothing here that will leave you humming along afterwards. Since it gets the full MGM treatment, everything about the film from costumes to art direction to choreography is first-rate, except unfortunately the plot. Certainly not the worst film either Kelly or Sinatra made, but you won't remember much of it when it's over. To see their best partnership, catch ON THE TOWN, which was released six months later with much better results.