Headin' Home, starring Babe Ruth (September 19, 1920)
Released September 19, 1920: Fictional story about a young boy that grows up to be a great baseball star, featuring the real Babe Ruth, home run king.
Directed by Albert Herman
Written by Arthur 'Bugs' Baer (the text screens), and Earle Browne (the story).
The Actors: Babe Ruth - George Herman 'Babe' Ruth (Babe), Ruth Taylor (Mildred Tobin), William Sheer (Harry Knight), Margaret Seddon (Babe's mother), Frances Victory (Pigtails, Babe's sister), James A. Marcus (Simon Tobin), Ralf Harolde (John Tobin), Charles Byer (David Talmadge), George Halpin (Doc Hedges, and the constable, and the dog catcher), William J. Gross (Eliar Lott), Walter Lawrence (Tony Marino), Ann Brody (Mrs. TOny Marino), Ricca Allen (Almira Worters), Sammy Blum (Jimbo Jones), Ethel Kerwin (Kitty Wilson).
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In 1920, when this movie was filmed, George Herman "Babe" Ruth was 25 years old, and had already won three world series (1915, 1916, 1918). He would go on to win four more, in 1923, 1927, 1928 and 1932. He was traded from Boston to the New York Yankees after the 1919 season, and as this film was released, it was near the end of his first year with the New York Yankees.
The story is of a young boy that grows up with a younger step-sister in a very small town, and when a famous baseball pitcher comes to town, he decides to see if he can best the ace pitcher with his might bat - but to do that, he would have to play for the opposing team instead of his home team. This he does, and with a mighty swing sends the ball far out of the field, incurring the wrath of the town.
In 1920 when this movie was filmed, the average annual wage was $1,236, and school teachers earned $970 a year. Babe got a check for $25,000 for making this movie, and instead of cashing it, carried it around with pride, showing everyone what he had gotten paid. After the movie was released, it had such a poor showing around the country that the producer went broke, and when the Babe finally tried to cash his check, it bounced higher than one of his home runs. He laughed about it, and kept the check as a souvenir of his short movie career.
For me, the best part of the movie, other than seeing the great baseball player in action, is the text screens. They were created by Arthur 'Bugs' Baer, and just about every one has a witty remark included, like the one during the ace pitcher's arrival in the small town: "The kids used to follow that new pitcher aroun' like cats after a fish wagon." Each screen has a colorful mental picture adding to the plot of the film. Even if you don't normally enjoy silent movies, this one will please you if you enjoy baseball or the language and surroundings of 1920's America.