Shelfie: Baseball, Immigrants and Outlaws

I’m back with another peek into my silent movie collection, a selection of honest-to-goodness Americana this time around. If you want to catch up on other “shelfie” posts, you can find them here.

I’m based in California, so while these films might be region-free, they are quite possibly region 1 or region A. Readers living outside the region will need to check their equipment before purchasing.

You can catch up on all my shelfie posts here.

Reel Baseball

This fine two-disc collection from Kino features baseball pictures from the dawn of movies all the way into the feature film era. There are a couple of versions of Casey at the Bat, of course, as well as Babe Ruth’s biopic Headin’ Home (which stars Ruth himself) and The Busher, which audiences of the time would have seen for star Charles Ray but modern viewers will probably check out because of a young Colleen Moore and John Gilbert. The one’s a bargain! Learn more and order here.

Read my review of Headin’ Home here.

Read my review of The Busher here.

The White Outlaw (1929)

Not to be confused with the 1925 film of the same name starring Jack Hoxie and Marceline Day. This is your classic western stuff with Art Acord playing a Good Bad Man who is done dirty by a Bad Bad Man. I have the 2013 Grapevine edition.  Learn more and order here.

The Old Swimmin’ Hole (1921)

Another Charles Ray feature with ma and apple pie, etc. Its description contains the most terrifying phrase in all of film: based on the James Whitcomb Riley poem of the same name. (Waves at that one person with a “James Whitcomb Riley” Google Alert activated, and, no, I am still not publishing your 3,000 word rant on the glories of JWR. Sheesh.) Read more and order here.

P.S. Yes, I know and it’s a long story. A long, long, long story of bunched panties and “that’s quite a hill to die on” with a very boring payoff.

His People (1925)

A lovely and sensitive examination of the American immigrant experience made by (puts on glasses, takes closer look at notes) Universal? This is one of my go-to recommendations for silent film, Rudolph Schildkraut gives a beautiful performance as a Russian Jewish man trying to maintain a relationship with his oh-so American sons while still staying true to his traditions and beliefs. Have a hankie handy. I own the Grapevine edition but I have heard good things about the ReelClassicDVD version, which features a score by Ben Model.

Read my review of the film here.

The Shamrock and the Rose (1927)

And then there’s this movie. Made during the fad for Irish/Jewish wedding comedies (don’t ask), it manages to stuff in stereotypes I never even knew existed. I have the 2012 Grapevine edition. Learn more and order here.

Read my review of the film here.

Dick Turpin (1925)

Like any good cowboy star, Tom Mix liked to mix things up (rimshot!) with a little horse-centric adventure that did not involve wearing a ten-gallon hat. In this case, the famous highwayman who was done in by… the local postman who recignized his handwriting because he had taught Turpin how to write? This film seems to be totally out of print now.


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  1. Katie M

    I read “Babe Ruth’s biopic” and nearly cringed. Don’t EVER see The Babe Ruth Story. I’m not sure even MST3K could save it.

      1. Katie M

        Oh, The Babe Ruth Story is heavily sanitized, heavily cliched, and (I wish I was joking) has Ruth miraculously healing children. Seriously.

  2. Birgit

    My brother is a baseball expert and has been this way since he was 5. He had a job, at one point where he wrote the backs of baseball cards and has expert knowledge. I bet he would be intrigued by this DVD. I would love to see some of these films and I love the artwork on the posters

  3. Shari Polikoff

    Sorry, I’m a ‘completist’ – I want to live long enough to see every film ever made (pre-1970, that is) so I take them as they are. If the biopics of Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Joe Louis, etc, aren’t examples of great film-making, so be it. At least they’re interesting.
    I’ll take any old movie, good or bad, versus the modern stuff (with some exceotions) that I can’t even stand to glimpse via their trailers.

      1. Katie M

        There definitely are exceptions. The first one that springs to mind is The Imitation Game-an excellent film that left me bawling.

  4. Shari Polikoff

    I don’t mind some spoofing occasionally (i.e. my essay on ’10 Reasons to Hate ‘Titanic,’ Oscar Win Notwithstanding’). It’s a shame, though, that the Hollywood studios were so busy poking fun at silent films as blooper reel-style short subjects during the Forties that they turned a whole generation of movie-goers against silents, and let most of the films rot away or get incinerated, leaving us with only our precious 10 percent remnant.

    1. Fritzi Kramer

      There’s an obvious difference between affectionate ribbing or making fun of tropes from a place of knowledge and making fun of old films just because they are old. For example, we all have a good laugh about bird smooching in silent films. Heck, even silent era audiences had fun with some of the cliches or ill-conceived plots they saw.

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