Monday, April 06, 2009

Tonight's Movie: It Happened in Flatbush (1942)

Tonight I decided to follow yesterday's baseball movie, IT HAPPENS EVERY SPRING (1949), with another baseball-themed film.

IT HAPPENED IN FLATBUSH is an enjoyable baseball story about "the Brooklyn team" -- the Dodgers are never directly acknowledged by name -- its manager, and the team's loyal fans.

Former baseball player Frank "Butterfingers" Maguire (Lloyd Nolan) once blew a play, in what fans today might refer to as a "Bill Buckner moment." Seven years have passed, and now Maguire is back, seeking redemption -- in the form of a pennant -- as Brooklyn's new manager.

The cast of characters includes beautiful Carole Landis, who inherits the team and knows nothing about baseball; Robert Armstrong as a reporter who hates Maguire; William Frawley as the team's dependable general manager; and George Holmes as a rookie pitcher thrown into crisis game situations.

The cast also includes familiar faces such as Jane Darwell, Sara Allgood, Mary Gordon, and Scotty Beckett. Vivian Blaine is said to be an extra, but I didn't spot her.

Nolan is always a solid actor, and he's surrounded by a good cast. The film is nothing particularly special, but it's a pleasant way to pass the time. The movie incorporates footage from real Dodgers games, which adds to the period authenticity.

Carole Landis trades in her usual blonde hair for a brunette look in this film. Landis appeared in some excellent early '40s films, including MOON OVER MIAMI, I WAKE UP SCREAMING, and ORCHESTRA WIVES. Landis worked tirelessly on behalf of soldiers during WWII, which was later chronicled in her book FOUR JILLS IN A JEEP; the film version is available on DVD. Tragically, Landis's life spiraled into tragedy after the war, and she died in 1948, at the age of 29.

This movie was shot in black and white and runs 80 minutes. It was directed by Ray McCarey. Ray was the younger brother of better-known director Leo McCarey (THE AWFUL TRUTH, LOVE AFFAIR); Ray passed away in 1948 at the age of 44. He outlived Carole Landis by just a few months.

IT HAPPENED IN FLATBUSH has been shown on TV on Fox Movie Channel. It has not had a DVD or video release. Vote on this page if you would like to express interest in the film receiving a DVD release.


Blogger mel said...

Don't know much about baseball (never heard of it in my country) but I love watching my copy of Damn Yankees (1958)...

9:24 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

That's a musical I've never caught up with, Mel. Frankly I think both words in the title have put me off a little bit (grin) -- Dodgers fans don't care for the NY Yankees! -- but I'll have to make it a point to check it out since I love both musicals and baseball. Thanks for the recommendation!

Best wishes,

9:36 PM  
Blogger mel said...

I guarantee you'll love it, Laura.

I wish you and yours a very happy Easter.

4:56 AM  

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