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Friday, 10 August 2012

Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949) - Star of the month... Gene Kelly


"It's fate, baby, it's fate, and it's knocking at our door... It's fate, baby, and that's the reason, you're mine and I am yours." - Betty Garrett (as Shirley Delwyn in 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame')




Frank Sinatra & Gene Kelly sing the title song
'Take Me Out to the Ballgame' is a 1949 musical directed by Busby Berkeley and starring Frank Sinatra, Esther Williams and Gene Kelly with Betty Garrett, Jules Munshin, Edward Arnold and Richard Lane.

Produced by Arthur Freed

Set in 1908, the film tells the story of fictional American League baseball team, the Wolves, and two of its players (who are also vaudevillians), Eddie O'Brien (played by Kelly) and Dennis Ryan (played by Sinatra). 


Frank Sinatra serenades Esther Williams
The ballplayers are devastated when the find out, the new owner of the Wolves is a woman, K.C. Higgins (played by Williams). Shorly after both Eddie and Dennis find themselves both falling in love with her. Things get complicated for Dennis when Shirley Delwyn falls in love with him.






Musical program

Frank Sinatra, Jules Munshin & Gene Kelly sing
"O'Brien to Ryan to Goldberg"
Musical program features:
  • "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" - Frank Sinatra & Gene Kelly
  • "Yes, Indeedy" - Frank Sinatra & Gene Kelly (with Jules Munshin)
  • "O'Brien to Ryan to Goldberg" - Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly & Jules Munshin
  • "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" (Reprise) - Esther Williams
  • "The Right Girl For Me" - Frank Sinatra
  • "The Right Girl For Me" (Reprise) - Gene Kelly
  • "It's Fate, Baby, It's Fate" - Betty Garrett & Frank Sinatra
  • "Strictly U.S.A." - Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Esther Williams, Betty Garrett & Jules Munshin
  • "The Hat My Father Wore On St. Patrick's Day" - Gene Kelly
  • "Finale: Strictly U.S.A." - Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Esther Williams & Betty Garrett

Watch some of the musical highlights below...

Song: "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" - Frank Sinatra & Gene Kelly



Song: "It's Fate, Baby, It's Fate" - Betty Garrett & Frank Sinatra



Song: "O'Brien to Ryan to Goldberg" - Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly & Jules Munshin



"Strictly USA" - Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Esther Williams & Betty Garrett 




Song: "The Hat My Father Wore Upon St. Patrick's Day" - Gene Kelly



Song: "The Right Girl For Me" - Frank Sinatra



Song: "Yes, Indeedy" - Frank Sinatra & Gene Kelly (with Jules Munshin)


Deleted musical sequences

Two songs were filmed but deleted from the final film:

'Boys and Girls Like You And Me'
- Originally written for the Broadway musical "Oklahoma" (1943), it was cut from the final show; it was then supposed to appear in the film 'Meet Me In St. Louis' (1943), but was also cut from that as well; 
- Danny was supposed to sing the song to Shirley, the song was filmed however it was deemed too slow for the film and was cut
- The melody from the song was later featured in the TV movie musical 'Cinderella' (1957), with the song finally being sung in the 1996 stage production of 'State Fair'


'Babydoll'
- 'Babydoll' was developed after Gene Kelly prevented an Esther Williams swimming number from being included in the film
- Intended to be a lighthearted song and dance interlude for Gene Kelly and Esther Williams, the song was cut as it was considered to be "out of step" wit the rest of the film
- The song was later used in the film 'The Belle of New York' (1952), and performed by Fred Astaire and Vera-Ellen
- Although most of the footage filmed for the song exists, a small component of  footage is missing

Did you know...

  • This was the second of three "buddy films" Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly made together
  • Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Jules Munshin and Betty Garrett would all be reunited a year later in "On The Town" (1949)
  • The idea for the film was conceived by Gene Kelly, who wanted to pay tribute to the early years of baseball
  • Judy Garland was the original choice to play K.C. Higgins, however she had become unreliable due to her addiction to antidepressants
  • June Allyson was considered for the role of K.C. Higgins, but fell pregnant
  • Kathryn Grayson was considered for the role of K.C. Higgins
  • In Britain, the film was released under the title 'Everybody's Cheering', as baseball is not popular there
  • The final directed by solely by Busby Berkeley
  • Baseball player Leo Durocher was originally intended to play the role of Danny Ryan
  • In her autobiography, Esther Williams described her time on the film as "pure misery", and claimed Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen treated her with contempt, and made nasty jokes about her - Williams believes this was because Kelly was uncomfortable with her being 3 inches taller than him


Award nominations

  • Writers Guide of America Award nomination for Best Written American Musical 




Esther Williams appears briefly in a swimming pool

Closing remarks

In my opinion 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame' is a below average MGM musical.  The pace of film gets slow from time to time, and there are not nearly enough songs. This aside, the stars are fantastic and the film was very successful upon it's release.

In addition to Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra, I am also a big fan of the two actresses in the film: Esther Williams and Betty Garrett.
  • Esther Williams was one of MGMs biggest money makers, and sadly she does not perform an underwater ballet sequence in this film. We do get to see her briefly in the swimming pool.
  • Esther Williams, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra & Betty Garrett
    perform the finale of "Strictly U.S.A."
  • Betty Garrett's role in the film is also far too short, as it takes 40 minutes for her character to be introduced. Betty Garrett was a wasted talent and sadly didn't make nearly enough films.
Overall not a bad film, although in my opinion it's inferior to the other two Kelly/Sinatra films "Anchors Aweigh" (1945) and "On the Town" (1949).

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