“Dogs have fleas; managers have sports writers.”
The foul-mouthed manager (Paul Douglas) of a losing baseball team (the Pittsburgh Pirates) is visited by an angel, who promises him that a team of heavenly players will help the Pirates win the pennant — if Douglas cleans up his act. Aided by a plucky journalist (Janet Leigh) and a winsome young orphan (Donna Corcoran) who claims to actually see the team of angels, Douglas soon finds himself a changed man, and the Pirates begin winning games.
Clearly banking upon the popularity of earlier fantasy hits such as Miracle on 34th Street (1947) and Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), Angels in the Outfield is an innocuous, somewhat derivative, yet surprisingly heartwarming “family film”. What’s not to like about watching curmudgeonly Paul Douglas turn into a respectful, child-loving teddy bear, or adorable moppet Donna Corcoran insisting loudly to her only-in-Hollywood loving nun protectors (Spring Byington and Ellen Corby) that she sees angels roosting behind each of the Pittsburgh Pirates? The story itself is, naturally, unrealistic — particularly the way in which Douglas and Leigh are magically pulled together as a May-December couple by the end of the film, despite a lack of any overtly romantic overtones — but it’s fairly easy to forgive these gaffes and simply enjoy the events as they unfold. Laugh-out-loud moments include the clever way in which the sound studio depicts Douglas’s swearing in early scenes, and Douglas’s misinterpretation of Leigh’s instruction to dry her rain-soaked shoes UNDER a warm oven.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Paul Douglas as Guffy McGovern
- Janet Leigh as Jennifer Paige
- Donna Corcoran as Bridget
- A genuinely warm-hearted, good-natured “family film”
No, but it’s recommended. Listed as a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book (no surprise, given his love of baseball).