Sunday, December 06, 2015

Tonight's Movie: The Kid From Cleveland (1949) - An Olive Films Blu-ray Review

Russ Tamblyn stars as THE KID FROM CLEVELAND (1949), a Republic Pictures film just released on Blu-ray and DVD by Olive Films.

Tamblyn plays troubled Johnny Barrows, who is headed for juvenile delinquency due to conflicts with his mother (Ann Doran) and stepfather (Louis Jean Heydt). Johnny resents his stepfather and grieves for his father, killed during the war.

Johnny happens to make the acquaintance of Cleveland Indians broadcaster Mike Jackson (George Brent) and spends time with the Indians baseball team during the 1948 World Series and the following spring training.

Mike and the Indians, including owner Bill Veeck, have a positive influence on baseball-loving Johnny, but when Johnny gets in trouble with gangster Mac (John Beradino), it's up to a probation officer (K. Elmo Lowe) to dig for the root causes of Johnny's problems and decide his future.

THE KID FROM CLEVELAND is somewhat in the vein of the earlier Monogram film WHERE ARE YOUR CHILDREN (1943); both are fairly low budget films attempting to offer understanding and solutions regarding the problem of juvenile crime.

It may not be a great film, but as a baseball fan I must say I found it great fun. The ball players (appearing as themselves) can't say lines well to save their lives, but despite that they come across as genial personalities, and it's rather remarkable to have so many legendary players on the screen, including Bob Feller, Hank Greenberg, Larry Doby, Satchel Paige, Bob Lemon, and more.

Side note: Lemon was a client at the Long Beach, California law firm I worked at in the '80s, and one of the secretaries, knowing I loved baseball, obtained his autograph for me!

What's curious is that Beradino was actually a member of the 1948 Indians team, but rather than playing himself, he plays the chief villain of the piece! It was his second film. Throughout the '50s he appeared in small roles in films such as THEM! (1954) and SEVEN MEN FROM NOW (1956) as well as TV roles; he would begin a decades-long run as Dr. Steve Hardy on GENERAL HOSPITAL in 1963. (P.S. I have his autograph also.)

The movie's ending finds Veeck giving Johnny an inspirational speech about the pressures faced by Larry Doby when he followed in Jackie Robinson's footsteps integrating baseball, with a reenactment of his first game by Doby and Joe Gordon. I was fascinated that was used as a plot point and loved it.

The cast also includes Lynn Bari as Mike's understanding wife, a theatrical set designer. Having favorites like Brent, Bari, Doran, and Heydt in the leads added to my enjoyment, and it was also fun to see Russ Tamblyn in his second film.

THE KID FROM CLEVELAND was directed by Herbert Kline and filmed in black and white by Jack Marta. It runs 89 minutes.

THE KID FROM CLEVELAND won't necessarily appeal to all audiences, but those such as myself who like the cast and baseball should enjoy checking it out.

The Olive Films Blu-ray is a crisp, good-looking print, although considerable stock footage blended into the film naturally doesn't look as good as the rest of the movie.

THE KID FROM CLEVELAND, among other things, is valuable for capturing some of baseball's greatest players on film, and it's great to see it looking so good. There are no extras.

Thanks to Olive Films for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger mel said...

Don't you just hate those beginnings of Olive Films discs - where the characters jump up and down and go in and out of focus?

They give me a headache before I start watching the film...

10:00 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Mel!

I confess I've never noticed that, LOL. I must put them in and not pay attention until I hit play! :) I'll look for that next time.

Best wishes,

10:29 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

I haven't found anything wrong with Olive products.

7:47 AM  
Blogger mel said...

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Olive products, Barrylane. It's just the introduction with the Olive logo which is attached to the beginning of each film, before the main title, that irritates me.

10:12 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

Mel. in light of your comment, I just happened to pay attention to the Olive logo on Strangers In the Night, and found it, if not annoying, wanting. So, sure. Your point is well taken.

4:54 PM  

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