Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949)

gene kelly frank sinatraGene Kelly and Frank Sinatra are back in action as baseball players who, much like the professional athletes of today, spend the off-season tap dancing in matching outfits.

With baseball season drawing nigh, I thought this movie was a home run…a HOME RUN. (See how funny my opening lines are?  Aren’t you so glad you decided to read this blog right now?)

Also, St. Patrick’s Day is this week and Gene Kelly absolutely crushes an Irish-themed dance in this movie, so stop reading this and watch this clip right now (though it should be noted that I do not support the blatant thievery of that random guy’s hat — not cool, Gene).

Take Me Out to the Ball Game is one of those happy, lighthearted old movies that’s just really fun to watch. I’ve loved it ever since I was a kid, though the film is not very well known. It was the second of three musicals that paired Gene Kelly’s mad dancing skills with Frank Sinatra’s golden voice. (The first was Anchors Aweigh and the last was On the Town.)

This was also the final film directed solely by Busby Berkeley, who was probably most famous for directing a bunch of those old Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney movies.

Aside from Frank and Gene, the cast includes Betty Garrett and Jules Munshin — two great comedic actors who both returned for On the Town. You may also recognize the face of Edward Arnold from old Frank Capra films like You Can’t Take It With You and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

The cast’s big fish, however, was actress and competitive swimmer Esther Williams. She was hugely popular at the time for her “aquamusicals” — you know, those movies with elaborate synchronized swimming numbers that the young audiences of today still clamor for.

Speaking of synchronization, there’s a fun, patriotic song at the end of the movie where Sinatra, Kelly, Garrett, and Williams all brandish white, twirling batons in perfect color guard unison. I’m don’t know exactly how long it took the four of them to learn that baton twirl, but I’m sure it was almost worth it.

baseball movie gene kelly frank sinatraOH, SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW: I’m 94 percent certain that Derek Jeter clogs.

While this movie is largely pointless fun, it does teach a truth in connection with a baseball player who gets enticed into performing at night clubs and eventually gets burned out during the day.

Like this athlete, it’s easy for some—at least at first—to juggle contradictory lifestyles without seeing any immediate consequences. But rarely can we sin in secret without eventually paying in public.

Additionally, there is one Being to whom nothing can be hidden. In fact, the Savior himself told us that words which are spoken in darkness will one day be proclaimed upon the housetops.

Regardless of the personal consequences associated with a double-life, we ought to think upon the effect our actions have on those we love. We have a responsibility to draw moral lines that protect our loyalty to them.

As Jeffrey R. Holland once said, “Like thieves in the night, unwelcome thoughts can and do seek entrance to our minds…Replace lewd thoughts with hopeful images and joyful memories; picture the faces of those who love you and would be shattered if you let them down. More than one man has been saved from sin or stupidity by remembering the face of his mother, his wife, or his child waiting somewhere for him at home.”

Choose the team that matters. Choose a life of loyalty to God and your family.

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” – Matthew 6:24

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