Headin’ Home (1920)
Director: Lawrence Windom
Cast: Babe Ruth, Ruth Taylor, William Sheer
Synopsis: The “true story” of baseball great Babe Ruth; Ruth plays himself.
Headin’ Home sees Babe Ruth playing himself in a highly fictionalised account of how he came to be the revered baseball player he was back in the 1920s. Considering the dullness of this fictional version of his life, we can only wonder how boring the reality must have been. Most of the action takes place in the small town of Haverlock, where young Babe lives with his mother (Margaret Seddon) and precocious kid sister, Pigtails (Frances Victory). You’d think he’d be the star of Haverlock’s baseball team, but his way is blocked by Harry Knight (William Sheer), a no-good cashier at the local bank who thinks nothing of pocketing a share of the money that crosses his path.
Frustrated by his inability to play for his hometown, Babe decides to play for their opponents, The Highlanders, and earns the wrath of his townsfolk by hitting a home run. Years later, Babe’s a successful professional baseball player, and we learn that because of the reflected glory his new status bestows upon the residents of his hometown they all now love him to bits. Meanwhile, that fraudulent banker who stood in his way is now selling peanuts in the stadium at which Babe is the star player. Seriously, does irony come any richer than that?
Ruth doesn’t have much of a character on-screen, but it’s difficult to tell whether he’s to blame or whether it’s the fault of Arthur ‘Bugs’ Baer and Earle Browne’s awfully dull script. Outside of the USA (and possibly Cuba and Japan), baseball is a minority sport, but that needn’t prevent anyone who feels the urge to catch a glimpse of one of the giants of the sport from taking a look as baseball provides only a background to the dull storyline.
(Reviewed 18th October 2014)