Kill The Umpire
William Bendix, Una Merkel, Ray Collins
Directed by Lloyd Bacon
Black and White 1950
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2007
80 minutes

Kill The Umpire and Safe At Home is a fun 2 baseball comedy DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. William Bendix is great as Bill “Two Call” Johnson a baseball fanatic who keeps losing jobs because of his passion for the sport. He is also an umpire hating man whose favorite expression is kill the umpire. When his father in law offers him a job where he will be able to go to all the games he wants he turns it down flat until his family forces him into it. The job? Umpire.

Two Call Johnson does everything he can to get tossed out of umpire school including some pretty good slapstick comedy. Fate, however, has a weird way of finding its man and, well, this baseball comedy is called Kill The Umpire so Johnson gets a lesson on the importance of umpires from a few kids in a sandlot. There’s some pretty original comedy when Bill officiates behind the plate and gets his Two Call Johnson nickname.

William Bendix, perhaps best known for his role in Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat, gets his first assignment in the Texas Interstate League where fans take the expression kill the umpire rather seriously. Things move quickly here and Two Call Johnson and his pal get to umpire in the big pennant series. Things get a bit weird and slightly violent in the sleeper car and there is a bit of tokenism involving Indians but Kill The Umpire quickly moves on.

Things come to a head when a call by Bendix starts a riot and makes the umpire a wanted man, a very wanted man in Texas. The only man who can save his skin is the Longhorn catcher but he got clobbered during the riot. Two Call Johnson is determined to make it to the next game and this means some pretty funny and original Keystone Cops moments and street surfing scenes that really make this baseball comedy DVD work.

Kill The Umpire is a fun, very enjoyable baseball comedy DVD that has aged very well. The print here is beyond reproach. It comes with another baseball movie, Safe At Home which features Mickey Mantle (and his son David), Roger Maris, and Whitey Ford.

Look for Alan Hale Jr. of Gilligan’s Island fame in the minor role of Harry Shea, the injured catcher.


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