Genres: Comedy

Paul Douglas stars, with Janet Leigh, as the hot-tempered Pittsburgh Pirates manager whose hard-luck team goes on a winning streak thanks to some heavenly intervention.


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Movie Details

Genres: Comedy
Sub-Genres: Comedy
Studio: Warner Home Video
Format: DVD
Original Release Date: 05/01/2007
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 7
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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Member Movie Reviews

Lewis P. (Turfseer) from NEW YORK, NY
Reviewed on 10/31/2010...
Sentimental 'Angels in the Outfield' can't compare to much more compelling 'It Happens Every Spring'

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I like to compare 'It Happens Every Spring' with 'Angels in the Outfield' as they were filmed within two years of each other (1949 and 1951), are both about baseball and feature Paul Douglas in key roles. 'Spring' is a vastly superior film in almost every way. The protagonist, Vernon K. Simpson, played by Ray Milland, is a chemistry professor who, as a result of an accident, gains access to a wood repellent formula which he uses to become a star pitcher. It's a great fish out of water story where the introverted professor is thrust into the gruff baseball world, and must prove his mettle amongst street smart ballplayers. Douglas plays ally Monk Lanigan, a catcher who looks after Vernon, but is constantly at odds with him since the star pitcher is determined to keep his identity a secret so that his girlfriend and her father (the dean of the school), don't find out what he is up to.

In contrast, Douglas' role in 'Angels' is virtually a passive one. Here he's 'Guffy' McGovern, manager of the last place Pittsburgh Pirates, who has a chip on his shoulder. Throughout the first third of the movie, he's as mean as the film's antagonist, sports announcer Fred Bayles (Keenan Wynn) who's bitter after being canned as the Pirates' radio announcer at the behest of Guffy. Nothing is endearing or interesting about the Guffy character and one wonders why any club owner would keep such a surly person in charge of a baseball team (he's constantly berating his players after each game due to their poor play). Why is he so mean-spirited? The answer is simplistic: we find out much later on that apparently he was ditched by a woman for another ballplayer in his younger days!

Unlike Ray Milland's pitcher, who must actively overcome personal demons through self-actualized behavior, all Guffy has to do is to listen to an (unseen) angel in the outfield at the old Forbes Field Pirate ballpark advise him to keep his foul language in check and act a bit more graciously toward his fellow man; in exchange, through heavenly intervention, a few of the Pirate miscues in each game are reversed, resulting in the team's sudden improvement in the standings. All it takes is a Pirate winning streak and good old Guffy is no longer playing the part of the team misanthrope. Since Guffy is transformed into a good guy so early on in the film, the internal arc (self-conflict) is resolved.

Now with Guffy 'defanged', the rest of 'Angels' mainly features a polemic in favor of religion, pitted against scientific rationalism. Little Bridget White, a nine year old clairvoyant, is soon trotted out and she's the only one who can actually see the angels in the outfield. Also in the mix is the Mother Superior who's looking after little Bridget at the orphanage (the 'tough as nails' sister, is reminiscent of the nuns in 'The Sound of Music' who spunkily remove a spark plug from a car and prevent the Nazis from going after the fleeing Von Trapp family). Guffy is accused of being flat out crazy and the Commissioner of baseball is called in to determine whether he's acting toward the 'detriment' of the game. A creepy psychiatrist is cross-examined by the ever-belligerent broadcaster Bayles but both are made to look by fools when a Protestant Minister, a Rabbi and Catholic Priest testify in Guffy's defense--they argue that angels are certifiably real since they are referred to numerous times in both the Old and New Testaments.

After Guffy gets into a fistfight with Bayles, the angel concludes that he hasn't quite learned the lesson of 'turning the other cheek'. They'll be no more 'miracles' for the Pirates and they're now forced to win one last game for the pennant without heavenly intervention. Guffy must now put his 'faith' in a veteran pitcher whose performance of late has not been up to snuff. Of course the veteran bears down and ends up winning the game for his fellow Pirates. One additional happy-ending: Guffy will marry newspaper columnist Jennifer Paige (Janet Leigh) and they'll end up adopting little Bridget.

Speaking of Ms. Leigh, in her younger days, she certainly was most pleasing to the eyes--except here has little to do in this film; except perhaps cook dinner for Guffy and hug little Bridget, as the two cheer on the Pirates from the stands.

'Angels' has only one thing up on 'It Happens Every Spring': Many of the scenes were shot at the actual Forbes Field ballpark, effecting a visual verisimilitude the latter film lacks. In addition, 'Angels' sports cameos from both the sports and entertainment worlds including brief interviews with such 'luminaries' as Joe DiMaggio and Bing Crosby.

It's revealed at the end of the film that the angels actually are famous deceased ballplayers such as Babe Ruth and Christy Matthewson. It would have been nice if we could have actually seen the angels and the story would have been enhanced if they were given some kind of personality. Somehow, when we do hear the angel's off screen voice, those scenes don't work precisely because there's nothing happening that's visually interesting.

A good film needs to have both a strong internal and external arc. Unfortunately, there are no twists and turns once Guffy 'sees the light'. Couple that with an antagonist who has no charm, a protagonist who early on is just as surly and a storyline that rather makes an unconvincing case for the ascendancy of religion (i.e. spirituality) in modern life, Angels in the Outfield ends up failing on both counts.

Baseball is hardly the type of arena which should be equated with the world of the spirit. Despite also being a fantasy, 'It Happens Every Spring' has no illusions about the rough and tumble world of our national pastime. Why not catch it instead of the sentimental 'Angels in the Outfield'?

Movie Reviews

For it's 1, 2, 3 angels out at the old... ball... game!
Annie Van Auken | Planet Earth | 11/15/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Clarence Brown's charming family flick ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD was remade in 1994 with Danny Glover as lead. This 1951 version is superior, however.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are the losingest team in American sports history. As of late 2009, they've finished under .500 for 17 straight seasons. In 1951 (the year this film was released) their won-lost record was a dismal 64-90. No wonder then that this tale of angelic intervention was so popular, especially in the Steel City!

Here, Miss Leigh plays a girl reporter who blames the Pirates' dismal luck on their caustic manager Paul Douglas. When foul-mouthed Douglas starts hearing a divine voice (Whitmore) he vows to change his nasty ways if it will help the team. Sure enough, Pittsburgh goes on a winning streak! An orphan girl (and diehard Pirates fan) claims she can see angels on the field actively helping her team out. In fact, these spirits are deceased all-star players whose assistance may abruptly end if Douglas can't live up to his word.

Fans of baseball history will love this picture for several reasons: it's filmed at old Forbes Field, there's game footage plus cameos of Joe DiMaggio, Ralph Kiner (who slugs a homer) and Ty Cobb (considered by many the greatest baseballer of all time). Also here is Bing Crosby (he owned 15% of the team), songwriter Harry Ruby, Barbara Billingsley (as a hatcheck girl) and Peter Graves (radio announcer). Ed Wood fave Tor Johnson is seen as a wrestler on TV.

Also recommended:
Another fine baseball-related film released in '51 is RHUBARB. He's a feral cat that through inheritance becomes team owner/mascot of the Brooklyn franchise. Rhubarb's presence at games proves a lucky charm for the Brooklyns.

Parenthetical number preceding title is a 1 to 10 imdb viewer poll rating.

(7.1) Angels in the Outfield (1951) - Paul Douglas/Janet Leigh/Keenan Wynn/Donna Corcoran/Lewis Stone/Spring Byington/Bruce Bennett/Marvin Kaplan/Ellen Corby (uncredited: Barbara Billingsley/Bing Crosby/Peter Graves/James Whitmore/Tor Johnson/Harry Ruby/Joe DiMaggio/Ralph Kiner/Ty Cobb)"
This is a feel-good movie!
Jane Parks-mckay | 12/02/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Movies today should be like this one. My husband has spoken for years about a movie he saw as a young boy. He ended up naming his sister for his parents as a tike because of this movie so for his birthday, it was a very special gift for me to give and for him to receive this DVD. We watched it his birthday night and LOVED it.

Movies don't have to have the violence and dramatic special effects they have today, Lord knows there is too much stress and negativity in the world. It was great watching a movie that made you smile and yet had great character development, plot and dialogue. We loved seeing the former baseball greats in their heydey.

I highly recommend this movie, it's a keeper and something you'll watch time and time again!"
You can't improve on the original
Jeffrey A. Johnson | Portland OR | 10/08/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"While surfing DVD's I came across the re-make. Blah! Thought about the old one which I had not seen for 30 yrs. Old one was available from Amazon market place for a good price and I'm so happy to have bought it. It was just as touching as I remembered. Had a tear at the scene about the pitcher. I won't say more. Rated G, you can watch this with your kids, especially your Little League'ers. Touching and well done, on a par with Miracle on 34th Street.
Got mine from VSource at $8.98, no problems and quick shipping."