Babe (The)
R2 - United Kingdom - Fabulous Films
Review written by and copyright: Matthew Crossman (2nd December 2015).
The Film

The film begins in 1902 when George Herman Ruth, aged 7, is taken, by his Father, to St Mary’s Industrial School for Boys. The school is all but an orphanage in everything but name and Ruth is left there because he refuses to go to school and would rather spend his time down on the docks. His exasperated Father has a business (a saloon) to run and Ruth’s Mother is unwell enough to look after him. The religious Brothers that run the school soon label him as ‘incorrigible’ but one of the Brothers, Brother Matthius, soon finds that Ruth has a hidden talent and that talent is that he can hit a baseball further than anyone else. Flash forward twelve years and Ruth is still at the school. His Mother has since passed away and Ruth has not seen his Father since. The General Manager of a small baseball team called The Baltimore Orioles agrees to adopt the 19 year old Ruth and look after him whilst he plays for his team. It’s not long, however, until Ruth is sold to The Boston Red Sox. His amazing hitting power makes Ruth an instant favourite amongst the fans but during a party given by The Red Sox owner Harry Frazee, Ruth makes a faux par by deliberately passing wind during a speech, angering Frazee. The next season Ruth demands a higher salary (he already earns more per annum than the President of The United States) and a suite for road matches away from Fenway Park, the home of The Boston Red Sox. With Ruth’s popularity at an all time high, and Frazee needing money to be able to continue to produce his Broadway shows, Frazee sells Ruth to The New York Yankees (and thereby starting the infamous ‘Curse of the Bambino’). Ruth continues his amazing home run record but all the time he is out until the early hours of the morning drinking and carousing with other women, much to the annoyance of his Wife and his team manager. As his behaviour worsens his Wife, Helen, divorces him and his performances on the field start to suffer. However, thanks to his second Wife Claire, Ruth manages to turn his performances around and has a record breaking season in 1927. As Ruth gets older he starts to covert the team manager’s job. The Colonel, the owner of The New York Yankees, has always promised Ruth a shot at the job but when the time comes The Colonel goes back on his word forcing Ruth to leave The Yankees. Ruth the joins the bottom of the table team The Boston Braves with one last shot at immortality on the baseball diamond.

Watching this biopic through the eyes of an Englishman with little to no interest in the sport of baseball it’s easy to see why ‘The Babe’ garnered such critical reviews upon it’s release in 1992. For many Americans baseball is THE national pastime and George Herman ‘Babe’ Ruth is one of their national treasures. So when ‘The Babe’ was released and, reasonably accurately, portrayed Ruth as he really was, warts and all, there was bound to be some form of backlash. John Goodman plays Ruth well. Goodman has always been a loveable character, as Ruth was, but it’s easy to see how this huge man’s moods can change and he become this large, scary character instead. Many would rather remember Ruth for his generous, and some might say, heroic acts. The acts where he visits orphanages and provides brand new shoes for all the children. The act of visiting a sick and dying child in hospital, a child that idolises Ruth, and promising to hit poor, sick Jimmy two home runs in his next game (which he does). The act of bravado of pointing to the exact spot of what part of the fence he will put the ball over during a World Series match against Chicago. These acts, all true, are well portrayed in the film, and it is this Ruth that people, naturally, will want to remember. What his fans, and fans of baseball in general will not wish to be reminded of is his womanising, his drinking, and his insatiable appetites for many things, many of them quite unwholesome, and this is what the film ‘The Babe’ does. This is not a particularly well made film. Passages of time pass within the film without a passing mention. His, possibly, adopted daughter goes from being a young baby to a three year old within a couple of scenes. The script is often melodramatic and schmaltzy and wastes a decent enough cast. Goodman as Ruth is excellent, as is Kelly McGillis as Ruth’s second Wife Claire but the rest are all wasted as simple window dressing. As a sporting film it’s not bad but even with a relatively short list of baseball films out there ‘The Babe’ still won’t be anywhere near the top.

Video

The picture is presented in 1.85:1 and is anamorphic. The colours of the film are very muted throughout. The image is generally quite washed out throughout the film. The biggest disappointment is the amount of grain present, especially during the night time sequences. Whilst I’m not against grain per se there really is far too much here.

Audio

Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround is the only option available. The sound is quite flat with very little to recommend it. The film can be watched in several different languages and these are; English, Italian, Castellano Spanish, and Russian. Subtitles for the hard of hearing are available and these are available in the following languages; English, Italian, Castellano Spanish, German, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish.

Extras

Theatrical Trailer (2:20) - This trailer is presented in 4:3 full frame.

Overall

An honest and open biopic of, probably, the greatest baseball player ever to have graced the diamond. The cast do a manful job with a weak script and the direction is uninspired but the film still retains some charm mainly thanks to a decent cast with Goodman and McGillis as the stars of the show.

The Film: C+ Video: C Audio: C Extras: E Overall: C

 


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