We’ve referenced Tom Hanks’ famous line from A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN/’92 before. You know, where he says, ‘There’s no crying in baseball.’ A sentiment disproved by nearly every quality baseball pic. And not just tears; half are full out tearjerkers. Here’s one that breaks the mold, a deft little tear-free comedy about a college chemistry prof whose experiment gets busted up by an errant baseball crashing thru his window. Soaked in what’s left of the formula, the ball suddenly repels wood. And we all know what baseball bats are made of. Off goes Mr. Professor to try for a secret pitching career in the Majors. Many complications arise: deserted fiancée, suspicious school president, mystery tonic shortage just as the season comes to a close. All handled with surprising ease and just enough plausibility for the fun to take off and for some real suspense to take hold. Then wrapped up in a perfectly executed, wonderfully satisfying twist ending. Welshmen Ray Milland doesn’t pitch all that worse than most American Hollywood stars who’ve tried, and the plot gimmick helps him get away with his sidearm slider. The simple special effects are still fun and director Lloyd Bacon rises all the way to competence. A breezy script and a good supporting cast fill things out nicely. (Paul Douglas, with his Yogi Berra build & speech patterns is a standout.) In its modest way, pretty darn hard to resist.* (NOTE: Excuse the lousy resolution on our rare Japanese poster.)
ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: *There’s an unhappy, if small, racist gag to beware of; and you can’t miss how times have changed from the days when a junior Prof would be openly dating a young student from one of his classes.