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Alibi Ike

(1935 b 72')

En: 6 Ed: 5

In this adaptation of Ring Lardner's story a rookie pitcher makes excuses for having a girl-friend, thwarts gamblers, and helps win the pennant.

Cub manager Cap (William Frawley) doesn't think much of his team; but he is impressed by rookie pitcher Frank Farrell (Joe. E. Brown), who makes so many excuses the team calls him Alibi Ike. Frank plays pool well. After losing an exhibition game because he walked three men and gave up a homerun, he said Cap's hand-shake hurt his hand. Cap invites Frank to go out with him, Bess (Ruth Donnelly), and Bess's sister Dolly (Olivia de Havilland). Frank tells Dolly he never brags, because those who have the stuff don't need to. They go out in the rain, and he says good-bye to her at the train; but he can't bring himself to kiss her. He tries to explain away a letter he got from her. On the train Cary (Roscoe Karns) has Frank put his arm in a sling. In the opening game Frank tells Cap he wound up with a man on first, because he "didn't know he was there." Frank looks at engagement rings but is so embarrassed he gets arrested.

A man tells Frank about a Young Men's High Ideals Club and invites him to a smoke-filled room, where gamblers twist his arm and tell him to lose his next two games. Cary keeps Frank from meeting Dolly by keeping his pants from him; but they go boating and fall in the lake as he is giving her a ring. To other players Frank makes excuses about Dolly, implying it will be off; she overhears, gets angry, gives his ring back, and takes the train. Frank loses 9-2, and gamblers plan to bet heavy on the next game. Cap and owner Johnson (Joe King) call on Frank as he receives an envelope of money with a note, "Good work, kid." Frank says he wouldn't throw a game. Johnson fires him; but Bess says Frank won't use Dolly as an alibi. Frank quits. Bess tells him Dolly will help him come back. Johnson tells Frank how to entrap the gamblers by asking for money before the game; but Frank tells a newsboy he will win the game, and the gamblers find out. So they kidnap him before the crucial game. Frank fights his way out, drives an ambulance and then a truck onto the field while still in pajamas. Bess turns out the lights so he can change. Frank loses the ball in his large uniform, and the score is tied. Frank hits an inside-the-park homerun to win. He weds Dolly and promises not to make any more alibis. Everyone is waiting for the kiss. So Frank kisses the minister before finally kissing Dolly.

This story amuses primarily because of the interesting main character and the comedy of Joe E. Brown. The audience gets to root their odd hero to winning the pennant and his girl despite the nefarious efforts of the gamblers.

Copyright © 2000 by Sanderson Beck

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