The Busher (1919).
This baseball themed drama is pretty standard fare for its era — perhaps even somewhat conservative, given that it is preaching the evils of big city life at a time when the film industry (and mass entertainment as a whole) was embracing the joys of urbanization.
Charles Ray (the reigning heartthrob of his day) plays Ben Harding, a small town pitching star who gets discovered by a major league club and heads to the big city. While there, he turns his back on his hometown supporters and succumbs to the requisite temptations of booze, women and gambling. He eventually washes out, returning to his hometown in disgrace. But out of that disgrace comes the chance to redeem himself and win back the girl he loves.
The look at old-time baseball is fun, but the rest hasn’t aged well and the last half of the movie is just plain tedious.
“Take it from me — that guy’s got more curves than a stovepipe!”
Ray’s costarring cast includes Colleen Moore and John Gilbert, who would both go on to eclipse his stardom in the silent era, only to find their careers stalled after the advent of the talkies.
“Headin’ Home” (1920) and “The Natural” (1984).
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