“Johnny’s a normal American boy, and he wanted to see the game today. I’m glad I made that possible.”
When a sports broadcaster (George Brent) finds a juvenile delinquent (Russ Tamblyn) hiding out in Cleveland Stadium, he introduces him to members of the Cleveland Indians and takes him home for the night. Upon learning that Johnny (Tamblyn) — whose dad died in the war — is having a rough time with his mom (Ann Doran) and stepfather (Louis Jean Heydt), Brent and his wife (Lynn Bari) are willing to take their care and guidance a step farther; but is Johnny’s behavior really the result of a rough home life, or deeper secrets?
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- George Brent Films
- Juvenile Delinquents
- Russ Tamblyn Films
It’s safe to assume that Peary included this obscure social-drama in his GFTFF given its ethnographic glimpse into a World Series-winning baseball team. (Most of the footage is from news reels, though the players do show up on screen.)
The majority of the storyline focuses on the drama of Johnny, an “all American” boy acting out against his new stepfather in ways that seem destined to land him in juvenile detention (or worse). To the film’s credit, there’s plenty of authentic tension around what will happen next with Johnny — starting with a plot twist early on, and ending with an unexpected conclusion. However, the entire affair is handled and acted with far too much earnest heavy-handedness to recommend.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Effective cinematography
No; this one is only must-see for Cleveland Indians fans or those curious to see Tamblyn in his first credited screen role.
One thought on “The Kid From Cleveland (1949)”
First viewing. Not must-see and rather in agreement with the assessment.
Clearly, Peary’s love of baseball had a lot to do with the film’s inclusion in the guide; fans of a similar nature may get more out of it.
Though (as noted) the cinematography does help by at least keeping the proceedings a little interesting visually, the bulk of the script and the acting (other than that of the main characters) lean toward something amateurish (though well-meaning).
Admittedly, the last 10 minutes or so are a leap forward in redeeming the film.