The Babe Ruth Story

The Babe Ruth Story is a 1948 baseball film biography of Babe Ruth, the famed New York Yankees slugger. It stars William Bendix (New York Yankee batboy in the 1920s) as the ballplayer and Claire Trevor as his wife. Critics faulted the film's heavy-handedness and direction, and it is said by many to be one of the worst films ever made.[2][3][4]

The Babe Ruth Story
Babe Ruth Story (1948 movie)
1990 Fox Video VHS release
Directed byRoy Del Ruth
Produced byRoy Del Ruth
Screenplay byGeorge Callahan
Bob Considine
Based onThe Babe Ruth Story
1948 novel
by Bob Considine
Babe Ruth
StarringWilliam Bendix
Claire Trevor
Charles Bickford
Narrated byKnox Manning
Music byEdward Ward
CinematographyPhilip Tannura
Edited byRichard Heermance
Roy Del Ruth Productions
Distributed byAllied Artists
Release date
  • July 26, 1948
Running time
106 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2.4 million (US rentals)[1]


The movie begins in 1906 at the Baltimore Waterfront, where 11-year-old George Herman Ruth Jr. is taken away by Brother Matthias from George's abusive father to St. Mary's. When George is 18, his incredible baseball talent gets him hired to play for the Baltimore Orioles, and during the interview, he gets his "Babe" nickname.

Babe becomes a successful baseball player, and is soon sold off to play for the Boston Red Sox. After a bad game, Babe wonders what went wrong at a bar, until he is told by Claire Hogsdon that when he pitches he sticks out his tongue. He continues his success, landing a new $100,000 contract. He finds Claire, but she gives him the cold shoulder. During one game, Denny, a sick paralyzed child, and his father watch Babe Ruth play. When Babe says "Hiya, kid" to the boy, the child is miraculously cured and stands up.

Babe soon becomes a player for the New York Yankees. During one game, he accidentally hurts a dog, and decides to take the dog and the dog's young owner to the hospital. After Babe argues with the doctors that a dog is the same as a human, the dog is treated, but because Babe left a game to do this, he gets suspended from the Yankees. A depressed Babe Ruth finds himself at a bar, and amidst the crowd giving off negative vibes, he starts a fight and gets arrested.

Soon, he decides to play Santa Claus at a Children's Hospital, where he runs into Claire again, visiting her nephew. She tells him that his actions affect the children of America, and Babe decides to keep that in mind. Miller Huggins, the same man who suspended Babe, fights to bring him back to the Yankees as the team has had a bad season. Babe is soon brought back, and the team wins the World Series thanks to him. With this, he and Claire get married. Soon after, Huggins dies from pyaemia.

During Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, Babe gets a call from the father of a dying child, and promises the father that when he goes up to bat, he will call the third shot and the ball will land at a certain spot; all of this will be for the boy. During the game, Babe does exactly that, and the boy hears the news and starts to get better.

Babe retires from the Yankees at the age of 41, and takes a management position with the Boston Braves, even though they want him to play in the games despite his age. During one game, Babe gets stressed out and can't continue playing, and retires from baseball after that game. Sadly, this means he goes off contract by retiring during his time with the Braves, and is fired from anything related to baseball.

Later, Babe complains of neck pain, and soon learns that he is dying of throat cancer. The news of this leads fans to send letters telling Babe that they care. The doctors decide to try a treatment on Babe with a chance that he'll survive. As Babe is taken to surgery, the narrator gives words of encouragement to baseball fans, crediting Babe Ruth for America's love of the sport.



Upon learning that the first choice for the lead role, Jack Carson, would not be released from Warner Bros., the producers chose Bendix.[5]

The film was rushed to release after news of Ruth's declining health, and makes no mention whatsoever of Ruth's first wife, Helen. The film was released three weeks before Babe Ruth died.

Critical reception

Some contemporary reviews were positive, with Bendix drawing accolades from a number of critics for his performance. Variety called the film "interesting, if semi-fictional," writing that it combined "warmth, tears and chuckles into a film that will sustain audience interest," with a performance by Bendix that had "a lot of heart."[6] Harrison's Reports called it "a highly successful picture, from the box-office as well as the entertainment point of view," adding that Bendix "handles his part with skill and restraint," and that "few people will come out of the theatre with dry eyes."[7] BoxOffice also ran a positive review, praising the film for its "great warmth and its constant down-to-earth humanness" with "much to appeal to every taste and age," and calling Bendix's portrayal of Ruth "flawless."[8] Shirley Povich of The Washington Post called Bendix "a believable Babe Ruth who, saddled with some of the worst lines and situations ever handed an actor, waded smartly through the mess and gave the screen its best baseball picture ... Hollywood didn't have to take all that license with it, but the nice thing is that the story of Ruth is too powerful for even Hollywood to mess up more than a trifle."[9]

Negative reviews cited the film's moments of heavy-handedness, lack of good baseball action scenes, and doubtful portrayal of Ruth as a childlike, kind-hearted oaf. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote that it had "much more the tone of low-grade fiction than it has of biography ... it is hard to accept the presentation of a great, mawkish, noble-spirited buffoon which William Bendix gives in this picture as a reasonable facsimile of the Babe." Crowther also found it "a little incongruous to see a picture about a baseball star containing no more than a minimum of action on a playing field—and most of that studio action which is patently phony and absurd."[10] John McCarten of The New Yorker also panned the film, calling it "soggy with bathos" and writing of Bendix that he "handles a bat as if it were as hard to manipulate as a barrel stave. Even with a putty nose, Mr. Bendix resembles Mr. Ruth not at all, and he certainly does the hitter an injustice by representing him as a kind of Neanderthal fellow."[11] Otis Guernsey Jr. of the New York Herald Tribune wrote that the movie "has been sentimentalized out of all possibility of stimulating film biography. It would be hard to find a more colorful American figure than the Babe for motion picture documentation and it would be difficult to do a worse job with him than has been done here."[12] The Monthly Film Bulletin of Britain wrote: "This film illustrates the American habit of canonizing baseball players, for apparently Babe Ruth did not only perform remarkable feats on the field, but could also perform miracles by curing the sick and the crippled. This power is demonstrated four times in the film, each in an increasingly embarrassing manner, and William Bendix portrays Babe Ruth as a half-witted giant without any redeeming pathos."[13]


More recent assessments of the film have been overwhelmingly negative. Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe called The Babe Ruth Story "the worst movie I ever saw"[2] while The Washington Times stated that the film "stands as possibly the worst movie ever made."[14] The film has been called one of the worst sports films ever by Newsday and The A.V. Club,[3][15] and called one of the worst biopics by Moviefone and Spike.[4][16] Michael Sauter included it in his book The Worst Movies of All Time, and Leonard Maltin called it "perfectly dreadful."[17]


  1. ^ "Top Grossers of 1948". Variety. January 5, 1949. p. 46. Retrieved April 15, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Dan Shaughnessy (Apr 3, 1986). "Duke as Williams? A Prince of an Idea". Spokane Chronicle. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  3. ^ a b Isaacs, Stan (Feb 26, 1989). "OUT OF LEFT FIELD The 10 Worst Sports Movies Of All Time". Newsday. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Worst Movie Biopics: Real-Life Catastrophes". Moviefone. November 5, 2009. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  5. ^ p. 39 Mirisch, Walter I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History Univ of Wisconsin Press, 10 Apr. 2008
  6. ^ "The Babe Ruth Story". Variety: 10. July 21, 1948.
  7. ^ "'The Babe Ruth Story' with William Bendix, Claire Trevor and Charles Bickford". Harrison's Reports: 118. July 24, 1948.
  8. ^ Spear, Ivan (July 24, 1948). "'Babe Ruth Story' Appeals To Every Taste and Age". BoxOffice: 18.
  9. ^ Povich, Shirley (August 13, 1948). "This Morning with Shirley Povich". The Washington Post: B5.
  10. ^ Crowther, Bosley (July 27, 1948). "The Screen". The New York Times: 18.
  11. ^ McCarten, John (August 7, 1948). "The Current Screen". The Washington Post: 63.
  12. ^ "Critics Disagree With Babe, Who Calls Movie Wonderful". The Washington Post: 17. July 28, 1948.
  13. ^ "The Babe Ruth Story". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 16 (185): 81. May 1949.
  14. ^ Heller, Dick (July 23, 2000). "Clinic and reception in the works to honor NBA pioneer Lloyd". The Washington Times. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  15. ^ "The home run that cured cancer: 16 Amazing Movie Sports Feats". The A.V. Club. Oct 6, 2008. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  16. ^ "Blockbuster Hollywood Bios: The Good, the Bad, and the "Jobs"". Spike. August 16, 2013. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  17. ^ Maltin, Leonard (2003). Leonard Maltin's Movie and Video Guide 2004. Signet. ISBN 0-451-20940-0.

External links

Babe Ruth's called shot

Babe Ruth's called shot was the home run hit by Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees in the fifth inning of Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, held on October 1, 1932, at Wrigley Field in Chicago. During the at-bat, Ruth made a pointing gesture, which existing film confirms, but the exact meaning of his gesture remains ambiguous.

Although neither fully confirmed nor refuted, the story goes that Ruth pointed to the center-field bleachers during the at-bat. It was allegedly a declaration that he would hit a home run to this part of the park. On the next pitch, Ruth hit a home run to center field. The home run was his fifteenth, and last, in his 41 post-season games.

Babe Ruth (disambiguation)

Babe Ruth (1895–1948) was an American baseball outfielder and pitcher who played 22 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB), from 1914 to 1935.

Babe Ruth may also refer to:

Babe Ruth (band), an English band

Babe Ruth Award, a baseball award

Babe Ruth (film), a 1991 American drama film

Benny Bartlett

Benny Bartlett (August 16, 1924 – December 26, 1999) was an American child actor, musician, and later a member of the longest running feature-film series The Bowery Boys.

Bob Considine

Robert Bernard Considine, known as Bob Considine (November 4, 1906 – September 25, 1975), was an American journalist, author, and commentator. He is best known as the co-author of Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo and The Babe Ruth Story.

Claire Merritt Ruth

Claire Merritt Hodgson Ruth, born Clara Mae Merritt (September 11, 1897 – October 25, 1976), was a native of Athens, Georgia, United States, who is most famous for having been the second wife of Babe Ruth.

David Gorcey

David Gorcey (February 6, 1921 – October 23, 1984) was an American actor best known for portraying "Pee Wee" in Monogram Pictures' East Side Kids series, and "Chuck" in its offshoot The Bowery Boys. He was the younger brother of fellow Bowery Boy Leo Gorcey.

Dorothea Kent

Dorothea Kent (June 21, 1916 – August 23, 1990) was an American film actress. She appeared in 42 films between 1935 and 1948. A former model, she often played dumb sidekicks of the heroine, and rarely played the lead. In addition to her credited roles, she also had roles in six other films, including her last role in the 1948 film The Babe Ruth Story.

She was born in St. Joseph, Missouri in 1916, and died in 1990 from breast cancer. She was buried at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery.

Edward Ward (composer)

Edward Ward (April 3, 1900 – September 26, 1971) was a film composer and music director who was nominated for seven Academy Awards.

Gertrude Niesen

Gertrude Niesen (July 8, 1911 – March 27, 1975) was an American torch singer, actress, comedian, and songwriter who achieved popular success in musicals and films in the 1930s and 1940s.

John Elliott (actor)

John Elliott (July 5, 1876 – December 12, 1956) was an American actor who appeared on Broadway and in over 300 films during his career. He worked sporadically during the silent film era, but with the advent of sound his career took off, where he worked constantly for 25 years, finding a particular niche in "B" westerns. His versatility allowed him to play both "good guys" and "bad guys" with equal aplomb, working right up until his death in 1956.

Johnny Sylvester

John Dale Sylvester (April 5, 1915 – January 8, 1990) was an American packing machinery company executive who was best known for a promise made to him by Babe Ruth during the 1926 World Series. Sylvester was seriously ill and hospitalized. Ruth said he would hit a home run on his behalf, which was followed by what was widely reported at the time as Sylvester's miraculous recovery.

Kill the Umpire

Kill the Umpire is a 1950 baseball comedy film starring William Bendix and Una Merkel, directed by Lloyd Bacon and written by Frank Tashlin.

Bendix two years earlier had portrayed baseball player Babe Ruth in the biographical film The Babe Ruth Story. One of the ballplayers in this picture is played by Jeff Richards, billed as Richard Taylor, a minor-league ballplayer before becoming an actor.

Lee Frederick

Lee Frederick (June 2, 1912 – June 6, 1993) also credited as Robert Peyton) was an American film actor active during the 1950s. He played the lead character of an intelligence officer in the 1951 espionage thriller Tokyo File 212 opposite Florence Marly. Critic Robert J. Lentz called his performance "solid".

Philip Tannura

Philip Tannura (March 28, 1897 – December 7, 1973) was an American cinematographer who worked on over a hundred films during his career. Tannura also directed and acted in several short films and worked on a number of Three Stooges shorts as cinematographer.

Tannura spent much of his career making mid to low-budget films for a variety of different Hollywood studios. In the early 1930s he went to London to work in the booming British film industry. He was able to work on more expensive, quality productions during these years including several films produced by the Hungarian-born tycoon Max Schach. Following the outbreak of the Second World War, he returned to America. In 1941, he was cinematographer for the Rita Hayworth and Fred Astaire musical You'll Never Get Rich. Generally much of his later work, often at Columbia Pictures, was on film series such as the Lone Wolf and The Whistler. From the early 1950s to the end of his career, he worked in television.

Roy Del Ruth

Roy Del Ruth (October 18, 1895, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – April 27, 1961) was an American film director.

The Chocolate Soldier (film)

The Chocolate Soldier is a 1941 American musical film directed by Roy Del Ruth. Using the original music by Oscar Straus the plot is somewhat loosely based on the Ferenc Molnár play entitled Testőr and is unrelated to either the original play or the Oscar Straus operetta.

The Cinema Snob

The Cinema Snob is an American comedy webseries created, edited, written, and starring American filmmaker Brad Jones. It started in 2007 on YouTube before copyright claims caused Jones to move the series to its own personal site,, in August 2009. The series became part of Channel Awesome in January 2010. Jones is one of three creators, the other two being Doug Walker and Larry Bundy Jr., to remain on the site as of April 2018.

The series follows the Cinema Snob, a caricature of pretentious film critics, as he reviews obscure exploitation films, religious films, and pornography from the late '60s through the early '90s. Since 2013, however, the Snob has started to review more recent and widely released films, such as the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street series, Mommie Dearest, Debbie Does Dallas, The Babe Ruth Story, Xanadu, God's Not Dead, and Sex and the City.

The series has obtained a large cult following, and has met with a positive reception. A movie adaptation, The Cinema Snob Movie, was made in 2012, directed by frequent Jones collaborator Ryan Mitchelle. A sequel, Another Cinema Snob Movie, is slated for release on July 26, 2019.

William Bailey (actor)

William Bailey (September 26, 1886 – November 8, 1962) was an American actor. He appeared in more than 300 films between 1911 and 1959, but his roles were often uncredited. Bailey also starred in the original cast of No, No Nanette (1925), a smash hit on Broadway. Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Bailey died in Hollywood, California in 1962 at the age of 76.

William Bendix

William Bendix (January 14, 1906 – December 14, 1964) was an American film, radio, and television actor, who typically played rough, blue-collar characters. He is best remembered in films for the title role in The Babe Ruth Story. He also portrayed the clumsily earnest aircraft plant worker Chester A. Riley in both the radio and television versions of The Life of Riley. He received an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor for Wake Island (1942).

Popular culture
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