The Babe (1992)

PG | 115 mins | Biography, Drama | 17 April 1992

Director:

Arthur Hiller

Writer:

John Fusco

Producer:

John Fusco

Cinematographer:

Haskell Wexler

Editor:

Robert C. Jones

Production Designer:

James D. Vance

Production Companies:

Waterhorse, Finnegan•Pinchuk
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HISTORY

The film begins with a written prologue: “The following incidents are based on true events that occurred between 1902 and 1935”; and concludes with the epilogue: “George Herman Ruth retired with a lifetime record of 714 home runs. His record was broken by Hank Aaron in 1974. Aaron had gone to bat nearly 2,500 more times than Ruth. The Babe was never allowed to manage in professional baseball. He died of throat cancer on August 16, 1948.”
       On 13 Aug 1990, HR announced that sportswriter Robert Creamer’s 1974 biography, Babe: The Legend Comes to Life (New York), was being adapted into a feature film starring John Goodman. However, neither Creamer nor his book are credited onscreen. According to a 16 Apr 1992 HR article, Universal Pictures executive Casey Silver originated the project in the late 1980s. He recruited writer-producer John Fusco, who spent two years researching and writing the screenplay before director Arthur Hiller was hired in early 1991, as noted in a 28 Jan 1991 Var column. The Babe marked Goodman’s first film in a recently signed three-picture contract with Universal, and shooting was scheduled to begin during his hiatus from the popular television series Roseanne (ABC, 18 Oct 1988—20 May 1997). At that time, Bill Finnegan was listed as producer, but he did not remain with the project.
       Principal photography began on 13 May 1991 in and around Chicago, IL. Production notes in AMPAS library files listed the following locations: Wrigley Field, which stood in for Yankee Stadium and the Polo Grounds in New York City; ... More Less

The film begins with a written prologue: “The following incidents are based on true events that occurred between 1902 and 1935”; and concludes with the epilogue: “George Herman Ruth retired with a lifetime record of 714 home runs. His record was broken by Hank Aaron in 1974. Aaron had gone to bat nearly 2,500 more times than Ruth. The Babe was never allowed to manage in professional baseball. He died of throat cancer on August 16, 1948.”
       On 13 Aug 1990, HR announced that sportswriter Robert Creamer’s 1974 biography, Babe: The Legend Comes to Life (New York), was being adapted into a feature film starring John Goodman. However, neither Creamer nor his book are credited onscreen. According to a 16 Apr 1992 HR article, Universal Pictures executive Casey Silver originated the project in the late 1980s. He recruited writer-producer John Fusco, who spent two years researching and writing the screenplay before director Arthur Hiller was hired in early 1991, as noted in a 28 Jan 1991 Var column. The Babe marked Goodman’s first film in a recently signed three-picture contract with Universal, and shooting was scheduled to begin during his hiatus from the popular television series Roseanne (ABC, 18 Oct 1988—20 May 1997). At that time, Bill Finnegan was listed as producer, but he did not remain with the project.
       Principal photography began on 13 May 1991 in and around Chicago, IL. Production notes in AMPAS library files listed the following locations: Wrigley Field, which stood in for Yankee Stadium and the Polo Grounds in New York City; Danville Stadium in Danville, IL, which was staged to replicate Fenway Park in Boston, MA, and Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, PA; and the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, IL. Interiors of Babe Ruth’s farm were filmed at the Norwood Historical Society in Chicago, and Dewse Mansion was used in a party scene at “Harry Frazee’s” house. Filming also took place at the Rialto Theatre in Joliet, IL, and at Lake Forest Academy in the Chicago suburb of the same name. Opening sequences at St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys were shot at DePaul University. Downtown Boston, circa 1915, was recreated on Southport Avenue, on the north side of Chicago.
       Although production was scheduled to end in early Aug 1991, a 19 Nov 1991 HR news item announced that the filmmakers had decided to expand the role of “Jumpin’ Joe Duggan,” and additional shooting began in Los Angeles, CA, on 18 Nov 1991.
       According to the 16 Apr 1992 HR, the stadium crowd scenes were enhanced with optical effects, which made 1,000 background actors appear to be 50,000 baseball spectators.
       A 19 Apr 1992 Long Beach Press-Telegram article noted that the soundtrack’s barbershop quartet song, “Here Come The Bostons,” was the recreation of a “lost” tune that was historically performed at Fenway Park by a group called the Royal Rooters. When the film’s researchers were unable to find a recording of the song, composer John Liles was hired to piece together a new version. Additional source music was provided by Corelli-Jacobs Music, Inc.’s U.S. branch of the De Wolfe Music Library, according to a 5 Jun 1992 Backstage news item, but the company is not credited onscreen.
       Characters “Brother Mathias” and “Colonel Rupert” represent historical figures, but their names are spelled differently than their real-life counterparts in onscreen credits. According to various sources, including a 6 Feb 1995 Baltimore Sun article, the real name of Babe Ruth’s teacher was Brother Matthias Boutilier. The owner of the New York Yankees was National Guard Colonel Jacob Ruppert, Jr.
       The 16 Apr 1992 HR reported the film's opening the following day on 1,562 screens. Reviews were mixed. While the 13 Apr 1992 DV complained that the “uninspired script” failed to capture the scope of Babe Ruth’s legacy, the 17 Apr 1992 NYT stated that “the hokum, though heavily predictable, manages to be appealing all the same.”
       End credits state: “We all miss you Ralph.” As noted in a 15 Apr 1992 DV brief, actor Ralph Marrero, who performed the role of “Ping,” died in an automobile accident on 4 Nov 1991.
       End credits include the following acknowledgements: “Special thanks to: Animals/livestock provided by the Noble Horse, Chicago, Illinois; State of Illinois Film Office; the Illinois Mayor’s Office of Film and Entertainment; Mayor Robert Jones, Danville, IL.; the Danville Stadium, Jeannie Cooke, Rick Kurth, Rick Story, Joe Scott; South View Middle School, Danville, IL., Larry Roderick.” Additional acknowledgements state: “The Major League Baseball trademarks depicted in this motion picture were licensed by Major League Baseball Properties, Inc.,” “Hot dogs provided courtesy of Oscar Mayer Foods Corporation,” and, “Chicago National League Ball Club, Inc., Chicago Cubs.” The movie was: “Filmed entirely on location in the state of Illinois.” More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Backstage
5 Jun 1992.
---
Baltimore Sun
6 Feb 1995.
---
Daily Variety
13 Apr 1992
p. 2, 11.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Aug 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Nov 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Apr 1992
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Apr 1992.
---
Long Beach Press-Telegram
19 Apr 1992.
---
Los Angeles Times
17 Apr 1992
p. 1.
New York Times
17 Apr 1992
p. 8.
Variety
28 Jan 1991.
---
Variety
20 Apr 1992
p. 45.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Baseball Umpires:
Baseball Players:
Barber Shop Quartet - "The Chiefs of Staff"
Speakeasy band:
[and]
Bistro Band:
[and]
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANIES
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Universal Pictures presents
A Waterhorse/Finnegan• Pinchuk production
An Arthur Hiller film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Co-prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st cam asst
2d cam asst
B cam op
1st asst B cam
C cam op
1st asst C cam
C cam 2d asst
Film loader
Video asst
Chief lighting tech
Chicago gaffer
Best boy elec
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
1st asst cam, Post prod
2d asst cam, Post prod
Projection/Loader
Matte photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Graphic artist
Graphic artist
Art dept prod asst
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Set des
On set dresser
Prop master
Asst props
2d asst props
Const coord
Const coord
Chicago coord
Labor foreman
Const foreman
Carpenter foreman
Paint foreman
Standby painter
Matte paintings by
Matte paintings by Illusion Arts, Inc.
Matte paintings by Illusion Arts, Inc.
Matte photog
Matte artist
Matte artist
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Key cost
Uniform consultant
Key set cost
Men`s cost
Ward asst
Ward asst
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Cableman
Supv re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Supv AD ed
ADR ed
ADR asst
ADR voice casting
Sound eff rec
Supv foley ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
Foley rec
Sd eff coord
Sd eff coord
Sd eff coord
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec FX coord
Spec FX foreman
Visual eff supv
Dir of photog, visual eff
Digital compositing and computer anim by
Prod, Pacific Data Images
Digital optics supv, Pacific Data Images
Titles and opticals
Main title seq des by
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Mr. Goodman's make-up/Make-up supv
Key make-up
Key make-up
Hair stylist supv
Key hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Chicago casting
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Loc asst
Loc asst
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
2d asst accountant
Scr supv
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
L.A. asst prod coord
Unit pub
Chicago casting assoc
L.A. casting assoc
L.A. casting asst
L.A. casting coord
Extras casting
Extras casting
Extras casting asst
Extras casting asst
Indiana casting
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Asst to Mr. Coblenz
Asst to Mr. Hiller
Asst to Mr. Fusco
Asst to Mr. Finnegan
Helicopter pilot
Chicago maintenance
Danville maintenance
Key set prod asst
Chicago baseball coord
Danville baseball coord
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Craft service
Craft service
Stadium caterer
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
AFI intern
Student observer
Projectionist
Projectionist
Loc equip by
Hot dogs provided courtesy of
ANIMATION
Anim, Pacific Data Images
Anim, Pacific Data Images
Anim, Pacific Data Images
Line-up, Pacific Data Images
Film rec/Asst anim, Pacific Data Images
Asst anim, Pacific Data Images
Asst anim, Pacific Data Images
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Color by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Muskrat Ramble,” written by Edward Ory and Ray Gilbert, performed by Steve Jensen and the Bistro Band
“Here Come The Bostons,” written by Joe Liles, performed by The Chiefs of Staff
“Sweet Georgia Brown,” written by Ben Bernie, Kenneth Casey, and Maceo Pinkard, performed by Orbert Davis and the Speakeasys
+
SONGS
"Muskrat Ramble,” written by Edward Ory and Ray Gilbert, performed by Steve Jensen and the Bistro Band
“Here Come The Bostons,” written by Joe Liles, performed by The Chiefs of Staff
“Sweet Georgia Brown,” written by Ben Bernie, Kenneth Casey, and Maceo Pinkard, performed by Orbert Davis and the Speakeasys
“Chaconne,” written by Marie-Auguste Durand, performed by Marysue Redmann
“Three And Two Blues,” written and performed by Ari Brown
“Diga Diga Doo,” written by Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh, performed by Orbet Davis and the Speakeasys
“Stardust,” written by Hoagy Carmichael and Mitchell Parish, performed by Isham Jones and His Orchestra, courtesy of Intersound International.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
17 April 1992
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 17 April 1992
Production Date:
began 13 May 1991
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, Inc.
Copyright Date:
20 August 1992
Copyright Number:
PA578869
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
115
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31623
SYNOPSIS

In 1902 Baltimore, Maryland, seven-year-old George Herman Ruth, Jr., is abandoned at the austere St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys by his father, who complains the boy is unmanageable. There, Ruth is routinely punished for being “incorrigible,” and teased for his hot temper and pudgy physique. One day, Ruth astonishes his detractors with his innate talent for baseball, and teacher Brother Mathias refers to him as a “miracle.” Twelve years later, Baltimore Orioles manager Jack Dunn wishes to recruit Ruth for his team, but principal Brother Paul protests, arguing that the ornery youth is unfit for life outside his cloistered school. When Dunn offers to adopt the boy, Brother Mathias believes Ruth has finally found a home and agrees to let him go. Later in 1914, Dunn sells Ruth to Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee for a staggering $30,000. At Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, Ruth wins over the crowd by hitting the ball out of the field for a home run. Enjoying his new celebrity, Ruth adopts the moniker “Babe,” and indulges his insatiable appetite at a café, where he pursues a shy waitress named Helen. His boorish personality fails to impress Boston socialites, and he is expelled from a cocktail party for making jokes about flatulence. However, Ruth is consoled by an aspiring actress named Claire, and they spend a drunken evening together. Still intoxicated, Ruth arrives late to a game the next day and breaks a park record by hitting a ball over the wall at center field. Sometime later, Ruth meets the wife and children of teammate “Jumpin’” Joe Dugan, and decides to ... +


In 1902 Baltimore, Maryland, seven-year-old George Herman Ruth, Jr., is abandoned at the austere St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys by his father, who complains the boy is unmanageable. There, Ruth is routinely punished for being “incorrigible,” and teased for his hot temper and pudgy physique. One day, Ruth astonishes his detractors with his innate talent for baseball, and teacher Brother Mathias refers to him as a “miracle.” Twelve years later, Baltimore Orioles manager Jack Dunn wishes to recruit Ruth for his team, but principal Brother Paul protests, arguing that the ornery youth is unfit for life outside his cloistered school. When Dunn offers to adopt the boy, Brother Mathias believes Ruth has finally found a home and agrees to let him go. Later in 1914, Dunn sells Ruth to Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee for a staggering $30,000. At Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, Ruth wins over the crowd by hitting the ball out of the field for a home run. Enjoying his new celebrity, Ruth adopts the moniker “Babe,” and indulges his insatiable appetite at a café, where he pursues a shy waitress named Helen. His boorish personality fails to impress Boston socialites, and he is expelled from a cocktail party for making jokes about flatulence. However, Ruth is consoled by an aspiring actress named Claire, and they spend a drunken evening together. Still intoxicated, Ruth arrives late to a game the next day and breaks a park record by hitting a ball over the wall at center field. Sometime later, Ruth meets the wife and children of teammate “Jumpin’” Joe Dugan, and decides to start a family of his own. Casting aside his brief affair with Claire, he turns his attention back to the waitress, Helen, who hesitantly accepts his invitation to a game. At the Red Sox’s 1916 match against the Detroit Tigers, Helen watches as Ruth punches the referee and prompts a brawl. She is terrified by his unscrupulousness, but he promises to become a family man and buys her a farm. Six months after their marriage, Ruth becomes restless and goes to the city in search of women and alcohol. The next morning, Helen reads newspaper headlines reporting that her husband was in an automobile accident with a sixteen-year-old mistress. Ruth returns home with horses, hoping to win back his wife’s affections. The two reconcile and attend a musical revue, produced by Red Sox owner Harry Frazee. When the show fails at the box office, Frazee compensates his $125,000 debt by selling Ruth to the New York Yankees for the same amount. The deal sets a world record, and Ruth becomes famous for earning more money than the U.S. president. Although he enjoys a life of excess in New York City, Helen is unhappy with the move, and returns to their farm. In her absence, Ruth reunites with his former lover, Claire, who is now a Ziegfeld Follies dancer. They make love, and Ruth confesses his dream of becoming a team manager. When Ruth admits he does not want to leave Helen, Claire encourages him to reconcile with his wife. Ruth returns home with an adopted baby girl and a nanny, hoping to start a family, but returns to New York City for work. At a game against the Chicago White Sox, Ruth continues his winning streak, hitting the first infield home run in baseball history. As he fends off fans, a man approaches, desperate for an autograph. The gentleman explains that his gravely ill son, Johnny Sylvester, wants nothing more than a signed baseball. Ruth visits Johnny in the hospital, gives him an autographed ball, and vows to hit two home runs at his next game as proof that the boy will heal. Ruth makes good on his promise. By 1922, Ruth struggles with alcoholism, and continues to overindulge in food and illicit sex. However, he has maintained a romance with his primary mistress, Claire, and continues to perform well for the Yankees. When he joins his family on a train vacation, Helen decries his infidelity and refers to him as “incorrigible.” Reminded of his troubled youth, Ruth becomes violent, prompting Helen to demand a divorce and storm away. Yankees manager Miller Huggins witnesses the attack and threatens to fine Ruth for misconduct. Enraged, Babe grabs Huggins, dangles him upside down from the train’s caboose, and is punished with a two-week suspension. At a 1925 game against the Washington Senators, Ruth’s temper and debauchery finally start to diminish his performance, and fans jeer. Ruth starts a fight, and Claire later warns him to slow down. Appreciating her steadfast adoration and keen business acumen, Ruth marries Claire and makes a comeback, despite threats from a new team rival, Lou “Iron Horse” Gehrig. Ruth celebrates his restored success at a sophisticated nightclub, where he sees Yankees owner Colonel Rupert and declares his intent to become a team manager. Rupert promises to grant Ruth’s wish, as long as he overcomes the Chicago Cubs at the upcoming 1932 World Series. At that game, Ruth misses several pitches, but remains determined to attain Rupert’s offer. Pointing his fingers above the scoreboard, Ruth hits the ball out of Wrigley Field for a winning home run. By 1933, however, Ruth has still not received confirmation of his appointment. At Thanksgiving, he accepts a telephone call at Jumpin’ Joe’s home, and mistakenly believes it is the good news he has been waiting for. Instead, he learns that Helen was killed in a fire. In the coming year, Ruth takes custody of his adopted daughter, and remains unfazed when Gehrig doubles his number of home runs. Ruth is convinced he will soon become a manager, but Rupert rescinds his promise, arguing that Ruth’s reckless behavior proves he is unfit for authority. When Ruth claims he has changed, Rupert offers him a minor league team. Insulted, Ruth demands to be released from the Yankees, and Rupert ends his contract. As Ruth leaves, Claire slaps Rupert’s face and reminds him that Yankee Stadium is “the house that Ruth built.” In time, Ruth becomes assistant manager for the Boston Braves, but Claire warns him to retire before losing his dignity. In 1935, Ruth is heckled at a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and overhears the Braves’ owner’s plan to fire him. Still playing, he goes to bat and misses his first swing. Ruth falls to the ground, spitting blood, but he hits the next ball out of the park and sets a new record for Forbes Field. Continuing to score home runs, Ruth wins over the hostile crowd. During a standing ovation, Ruth walks away from the mound and shakes his boss’s hand, but he drops his cap, indicating his decision to retire. As he continues alone to the entrance tunnel, he is startled by Johnny Sylvester, the boy he visited in the hospital years earlier. Having survived his illness and lived into adulthood, Johnny returns his autographed ball, hoping it will bring Ruth the same good luck. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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