HEADIN’ HOME (director: Lawrence C. Windom; screenwriters: Arthur ‘Bugs’ Baer/Earle Browne; cast: Babe Ruth (Babe), Ruth Taylor (Mildred Tobin), William Sheer (Harry Knight), Margaret Seddon (Babe’s Mother), Frances Victory (Pigtails), James A. Marcus (Cyrus Tobin) Ralph Harolds (John Tobin); Runtime: 56; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: William Shea/Herbert H. Yudkin; Grapevine Video; 1920-silent)
“It’s a one of a kind film, whose novelty makes it a keeper.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A goofy comical biopic about baseball legend Babe Ruth’s life in his hometown of Haverlock just before his rise to fame. At the time of the film Babe, who plays himself, was a slim 25-year-old, whose claim to fame as the “Sultan of Swat” was just around the corner. This film catches Babe fresh from his sale to the New York Yankees by the Boston Red Sox. The historical silent is directed by Lawrence C. Windom (“The Truth”/”Enemies of the Law”/”Ruggles of Red Gap”); the screenwriters are Arthur ‘Bugs’ Baer and Earle Browne, who supply the witty intertitles. The film mixes fact with fiction, and it seems to be mostly fiction. For old-time baseball fans there are shots of the historic Polo Grounds, home at the time to both the Giants and the Yankees, which was torn down to build a housing project.
Babe is shown as a clean-living, good-natured loafer in his small town of Haverlock, where he dwells with his loving mom and perky foster sister named Pigtails and their mangy mutt named Herman. All the Babe likes doing is playing baseball, eating, making a homemade bat after chopping down a tree and bashfully ogling the banker’s daughter Mildred Tobin. The Babe can’t play on the local team because the star pitcher, a dishonest cashier in the bank, Harry Knight, hates him. So the Babe plays with their rivals, the Highlanders, and hits a home run to win the big game. He’s saved by the preacher from a lynch mob, who are angry that a local boy could be the hero for their rival team. But all’s forgiven when Babe reaches the Big Leagues and comes home to visit mom and sis, and ask Mildred to marry him.
It’s a one of a kind film, whose novelty makes it a keeper. Babe can’t act a lick, but he does come across as a likable and humble character with a self-deprecating sense of humor. This film presents him in a different light than his later bad boy image earned in the Big Apple.
The film serves as a good example of the mass-marketing of the sport. Variety reported that fight promoter Tex Rickard paid some $35,000 to book the film into Madison Square Garden, where it was screened from September 19-26, 1920. We are also told that the moviegoers could purchase everything “from Babe Ruth phonographic records to the Babe Ruth song, ‘Oh You Babe Ruth,’ which was sung and played by Lieut. J. Tim Bryan’s Black Devil Band, which accompanied the picture.”
REVIEWED ON 10/8/2007 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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