Cast & Crew
In 1928, Jim Horst, a scout for the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, comes to a small town in the Ozarks to watch pitcher Jerome Herman Dean. Dean, whose abundance of self-confidence verges on egotism, is sure that Jim wants him to start for the "Cards" immediately, and is surprised by Jim's insistence that he first play for the Houston Buffaloes, a team in the minor Texas league. Although he quickly demonstrates his extraordinary talents, Dean is teased about his country clothes and so goes to a large department store to buy new suits. There, Dean meets pretty credit officer Patricia Nash and courts her with great vigor. One day, Dean's beloved brother Paul, who is also a pitcher, attends an exhibition game between Houston and the Chicago White Sox. Although Dean is dismayed to see Pat there with another beau, he pitches an almost perfect game, allowing only one hit. During the game, the White Sox players taunt Dean by calling him "Dizzy," but the jovial Dean quickly adopts the nickname. Later that night, Dean asks Pat to elope, and although she is stunned by his proposal, she agrees to marry him the next day. Dean attempts to arrange a publicity stunt whereby he and Pat will marry at home plate during a game, but the no-nonsense Pat insists on a quiet ceremony. As the months pass, Dean, who is now called Dizzy by the press, becomes the Buffaloes' star pitcher and is told to report to the Cardinals in the spring. Dean is delighted, especially after Paul is awarded a spot with the Buffaloes. During his first major league game, Dean is nervous, but his talent and self-confidence prevail and help lead the team to victory. The sports reporters press Dean for anecdotes about his life, and he obliges by giving each of them an "exclusive," for which he reels off a different birthdate and place. The next spring, Paul, who is nicknamed "Daffy" by the press, joins Dean in St. Louis, and the irrepressible Dean brothers promote the team by acting as ushers, selling tickets in the box office and even cavorting with the marching band. Their antics get them into trouble, however, when they skip several games to go fishing and are each fined $100 by the team's manager, Frankie Frisch. Infuriated by the fine, Dean goes on strike and the obliging Paul follows, although Pat urges her husband to stop being so stubborn. After Pat's reprimand, Dean storms out of their apartment, and on the street, meets Johnny Kendall, a young, handicapped businessman who relies on crutches and a specially equipped car for transport. Dean helps Johnny with his errands, and Johnny's admiration of him and quiet acceptance of his handicap prompt Dean to end the strike. Dean and Paul then lead the Cardinals to the World Series, which they win. Later, during the next year's race for the pennant, Paul is injured by a line drive and is forced to retire. Dean is stunned by his brother's decision, as his entire life revolves around baseball, but soon faces a devastating injury himself when a line drive breaks one of his toes. Fretting during his enforced layoff, Dean returns to pitching too quickly, and during his first game back, is warned that he is risking serious injury to his pitching arm if he plays while he is still off balance due to the pain in his foot. The warning is borne out when a doctor tells Dean that bursitis and muscle strain have affected his arm, and soon the despondent Dean is sold by the Cardinals to the Chicago Cubs. Although he is no longer able to throw a fastball, Dean works hard to help the Cubs win the pennant. His arm strength continues to decline, however, and eventually Dean finds himself back in the Texas minor leagues. After a few months, even the Texas team lets Dean go, although he refuses to accept that his baseball career is over. Depressed and angry, Dean tries to forget his troubles by drinking and gambling and winds up losing large sums of money. Despite her love for her husband, Pat decides to leave him, and tells him that when he "grows up," she will return. Dean is devastated and asks Johnny, now a successful executive at his father's brewing company, for a job as a salesman. Johnny readily agrees yet arranges for his baseball-loving father to listen in as Dean comments on a game being broadcast over the radio. Johnny and Kendall, Sr. make Dean a baseball commentator on their radio station, and Dean becomes a great success, despite his thick Arkansas accent and often twisted English. Pat hears one of Dean's broadcasts and, bursting with pride, prepares to return home. Meanwhile, in St. Louis, an irate group of teachers oppose Dean, saying that his poor English is a bad influence on children. Dean is devastated by the charge and after much deliberation, decides to quit. During his final broadcast, Dean gives the children of St. Louis heartfelt instructions to pursue their education, then returns home, where Pat is waiting for him. After embracing his wife, Dean receives a call from Johnny, who refuses to accept his resignation, and then another call from Mrs. Martin, the head of the teacher's committee. Mrs. Martin admits that Dean's speech deeply moved the committee and tells him: "We'll keep teaching the children English and you keep on learning them baseball." Before Pat can again embrace her husband, however, a group of neighborhood kids come to the door and ask her if he can come out to play baseball.
Leo T. Cleary
Phil Van Zandt
Capt. Fred Somers
Robert B. Williams
Alex Cameron Grant
G. Pat Collins
Thomas F. Martin
Robert A. Jackman
R. L. Hough
Harry M. Leonard
Herman J. Mankiewicz
Best Writing, Screenplay
Richard Crenna, 1927-2002
Born on November 30, 1927 in Los Angeles, California, Crenna was the son of a pharmacist father and a mother who managed a number of small hotels in the Los Angles area the family owned, where Crenna was raised. At the tender age of 11, he was encouraged by a teacher to audition for a radio show, "Boy Scout Jamboree" at the nearby KFI-AM radio studio. Little did he realize that it would be the start of a very long and prosperous career.
Crenna found steady radio work for the next several years, culminating in 1948 with his breakthrough role of the goofy, squeaky-voiced Walter Denton in the hit radio series Our Miss Brooks. Crenna carried the momentum of his success to television when he spent four more seasons as Walter on Our Miss Brooks (1952-1956). Almost immediately after the run of that show, Crenna scored another hit series as Luke McCoy in the rustic comedy The Real McCoys (1957-1963) co-starring Walter Brennan.
Although he had been acting in films since the early '50s Crenna roles didn't come to critical notice until the mid '60s, appearing in Robert Wise's acclaimed The Sand Pebbles (1966) as the stalwart gunboat captain co-starring Steve McQueen; Terence Young's intense thriller, Wait Until Dark (1967), as a criminal who terrorizes a blind Audrey Hepburn; and another Robert Wise film, the Gertrude Lawrence biopic Star! (1968) playing the high profile role of Richard Aldrich opposite Julie Andrews.
Crenna's profile slowed down in the '70s, despite a brief return to television comedy in Norman Lear's political satire All's Fair (1976-1977) with Bernadette Peters. That show may not have lasted long, but Crenna bounced back with a resurgence in the '80s with a string of hit character parts: Lawrence Kasden's stylish film noir Body Heat (1981), as Kathleen Turner's ill-fated husband; Ted Kotchoff's hit Rambo: First Blood (1982), as Colonel Samuel Trautman, Sylvester Stallone's former Commander; Gary Marshall's excellent coming-of-age tale The Flamingo Kid (1984), one of his best performances (for which he received a Golden Globe nomination) as a smooth, charismatic gin-rummy champ who takes Matt Dillon under his tutelage; and many other quality roles in theatrical and made for television movies.
At the time of his death, Crenna was a member of the Screen Actors Guild board of directors and had a recurring role in the hit CBS dramatic series Judging Amy. In addition to Penni, his wife of 47 years, Crenna is survived by a son, Richard, two daughters, Seana and Maria, and three granddaughters.
by Michael T. Toole
Richard Crenna, 1927-2002
The working title of this film was The Dizzy Dean Story. After the film's opening titles, a written statement notes that it is based on the true story of famed pitcher Jerome Herman "Dizzy" Dean, and at the picture's end, a written acknowledgment thanks "all the individuals, clubs and leagues of organized baseball involved in Dizzy Dean's career." [Although contemporary sources, including the onscreen credits, refer to Dean as "Jerome Herman Dean," modern sources call him "Jay Hanna Dean."] As depicted in the film, Dean (1911-1974) was a talented pitcher who played for the St. Louis Cardinals for five seasons and was well-known for his colorful antics and boisterous personality. Along with his brother Paul, who was nicknamed "Daffy," Dean led his team to the World Series in 1934 and was also named the National League's most valuable player that year. Dean retired in 1936, after which he became a successful sports broadcaster, despite his often tangled grammar and thick Arkansas accent. Dean was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953. According to studio publicity, Dan Dailey trained intensively with former major league player Ike Danning, in addition to studying newsreels and recordings of Dean to perfect both his pitching style and accent.
According to a October 30, 1950 Hollywood Reporter news item, Richard Murphy was originally set to write the film's screenplay, but the extent of his contribution to the completed film, if any, has not been confirmed. In March 1951, Los Angeles Examiner reported that Lloyd Bacon would be directing the picture. Although studio publicity and Hollywood Reporter news items add the following actors and athletes to the cast, their appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed: Tony Dante, George Stanich, Art Reichle, Buck Andreason, Joe Hicks, Mercer Barnes, Bob DeLauer, Joe Brooks, Bob Simpson, Don Klosterman, Bob Perry, Michael O'Brien, Howard Banks and songwriter Harry Ruby. Studio publicity and Hollywood Reporter items also note that some sequences were filmed on location in Calabasas, CA and at Gilmore Field in Los Angeles.
A special preview of the film was held on April 28, 1952 in Hollywood as a benefit for the Olympic Games fundraising committee, according to a Los Angeles Times article. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Writing. On September 24, 1951, Dailey and Joanne Dru reprised their roles for a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast entitled "Movie Time, U.S.A." during which a scene from the film was recreated, along with sequences from other popular movies of the season. In 1953, Dailey and director Harmon Jones re-teamed for another baseball film, The Kid from Left Field. The Pride of St. Louis was the last film of noted screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, who died in 1953. Mankiewicz also wrote the screenplay for the 1943 Samuel Goldwyn production The Pride of the Yankees, about Lou Gehrig (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50).