I was pleasantly surprised by this short. Andy Clyde was a terrific performer, as we know from his many TV appearances late in his career. But the Columbia Comedy shorts department was no place for subtlety, and poor Andy ended up being used as a human punching bag/contortionist in most of his shorts, which often border on unwatchable due to the violent abuse that he endures.
"Gracie at the Bat" has real heart, and the relationship between Andy and his wife Gracie (a fine performance by Leora Thatcher--spelled "Thacher" on the films' credits) is both real and touching. Of course, Gracie's late-inning powerhouse performance on the baseball field is straight out of the world of cartoony-slapstick, but the tone of the film up until that point has been so sincere that you end up cheering her on despite the impossibility of her antics.
I also appreciated the opening sequence, which shows the former baseball great (Andy) in his present day role as grounds keeper, who grows wistful as he discusses his glory days with a much younger player...whose dad just happens to be one of Andy's former team mates.
Undoubtedly, the co-producing team of Charlie Chase and Hugh McCollum were responsible for the comparatively gentle tone of this short, which was directed by Del Lord, who usually unleashed holy hell on poor Andy.
But this film---for once---allows us to sit back and enjoy the fine comedic talents of Mr. Clyde without worrying what disaster may befall him next.
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