The Winning Team

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How do you rate "The Winning Team"?

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16
40%
Good
15
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8
20%
 
Total votes: 40

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puck
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Re: The Winning Team

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Pictures of the dress Miss Day wear in this movie.
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Toby_Martin
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Re: The Winning Team

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Thanks Puck!

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Johnny
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Re: The Winning Team

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There is a production note that reports that The Winning Team start was on November 27, 1951 and filming was from December 12th 1951 to January 25th, 1952. It was one day behind schedule. It was directed by Louis Seiler.

California experienced an unusual winter that postponed filming. There was frequent rain, soggy fields and one day of heavy frost.

Grover Cleveland's wife Aimee (Doris' character) served as the technical advisor on the film. A review described Doris' portrayal of Aimee as moving and sincere.

One of the best moments in the film is hearing the song Old Saint Nicholas being sung during the Christmas tree decorating scene.
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Johnny
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Re: The Winning Team

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Information on The Winning Team DVD Front Cover:

Doris Day in The Winning Team as The Winning Team

The story of the big league's "Alex the Great" Grover Cleveland Alexander, also starring Frank Lovejoy

Back DVD Jacket Cover:

Ronald Reagan and Doris Day catch baseball fever.

He was one of Hollywood's ideal of the boy next door, she was America's sweetheart.

Ronald Ragan and Doris Day headline a winning chapter from our national pastime. The Winning Team's Ronald Reagan is Grover Cleveland Alexander, the hall of fame pitcher whose baseball victories paralleled triumphs in his personal life. Suffering from double-vision and fainting spells, Alexander sees his career bottom out. But, helped by his wife (Day) he makes a successful return that reaches it's peak in 1926 Yankee/Cardinals World Series.

Real-life major leaguers such as Bob Lemon, Peanuts Lowery, Hank Saver, Gene Mauch, appear in this story of the legendary pitcher. Batter up!

After watching this film after a long while, I now appreciate the importance of Doris Day's role as the heart of the film. Doris' performance helps raise the quality of the film experience.
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Johnny
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Re: The Winning Team

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The Winning Team was Doris Day's 12th film. It was her second time working on a film with Ronald Reagan who was the lead in Storm Warning.

Doris was reluctant to participate in the this film according to David Kaufman's book, Doris Day, The Untold Story of The Girl Next Door. She received a wire on November 27-1951 reminding her of her contract of employment. The film was produced by Bryan Foy, the eldest of vaudeville's "Seven Little Foys". It was directed by Lewis Seiler.

The original titles proposed for the film were
Alex The Great, then Alexander, then The Big League and finally a title change memo was issued on February 12-1952 with the title, The Winning Team.

The story of Grover Cleveland Alexander describes him as one of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball. The film deals with his alcoholism and double vision but his epilepsy is unaddressed. After many struggles, with the support of his wife, played by Doris Day, he makes a comeback by his winning the championship for the St. Louis Cardinals from the New York Yankees in 1926.
The critics were unkind to the film saying it was dull, and to Ronald Reagan in particular ,referring to him as a passable ballplayer. Doris was described as giving a moving, sincere portrayal as Alexander's wife.

Although the critics did not give The Winning Team rave reviews, moviegoers loved it.
The Winning Team -1952
The Winning Team -1952
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Johnny
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Re: The Winning Team

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Some background information I found on Doris' film The Winning Team, in a TCM article states that Ronald Reagan who like Doris was a devoted sports fan, begged Warner Bros. CEO, Jack Warner to loan him out to MGM for the lead in The Stratton Story, (1949), about major league pitcher Monty Stratton. James Stewart and June Allyson were cast.

Jack Warner's response to Reagan was, " Who wants to see a movie about sports or a cripple?" When The Stratton Story became a hit, Warner green- lighted The Winning Team and gave Reagan the lead.

Doris was reluctant to do the film due to the screenplay but both she and Reagan reported to Warners on December 7th for costume fittings. Filming began on December 12th.

In Tony Thomas' 1980 book on The Films of Ronald Reagan stated that The Winning Team remained one of Ronald Reagan's films.

The criticisms directed towards the biographical film on Grover Cleveland Alexander were that the film sanitized the story and that Ronald Reagan was too old at 41 to play the part.

Imagine if William Holden, Montgomery Clift or Robert Mitchum had been cast as Grover Cleveland Alexander. It may have given more depth to the role.

Doris received positive reviews and was seen as the heart of the film.
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Johnny
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Re: The Winning Team

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In Alan Gelb's book, The Doris Day Scrapbook he writes the following about The Winning Team: "Doris' second film of 1952was another biographical movie. It was called The Winning Team, and it dealt with baseball great Grover Cleveland Alexander. It was not a good movie, and it personnel was undistinguished. Once again, Doris was under the tutelage of a second-rate director, in this case, Lewis Seiler. The twin apogees of Seiler's modest career were the John Garfield film, Dust Be My Destiny and the pleasing Gracie Fields-Monty Wooley comedy Molly and Me. Neither of them was a superb film, but both were good, relatively interesting ones. Seiler's was a long career, however, and The Winning Team was unfortunately representative of it. It was resolutely uninspired --certainly no Pride of The Yankees, but not even up to modest achievements of The Stratton Story or Jim Thorpe-All American to name a few.

The story was certainly dramatic enough. It documented Alexander's rise through the bush leagues to his pitching triumphs with the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago Cubs. In 1911 he was beaned on the head with a baseball and began to experience double-vision, (this mirrors the story of Doris' brother who was also beaned with a baseball at the beginning of a promising career and eventually developed a fatal form of epilepsy). Alexander then turned to drink, but with the encouragement of his wife (Doris) and the St. Louis manager Roger Hornsby (Frank Lovejoy, he makes a dramatic comeback and help the Cards win the world series in 1926.

It was every bit full of human interest as The Stratton Story was, but the latter had the imitable Jimmy Stewart whereas The Winning Team boasted only Ronald Reagan. Reagan was never a real "star" although he was adequate in Kings Row and The Hasty Heart. The Winning Team was one of his last chances to prove himself capable of sustain a full-length role and he failed. Time characterized Reagan and the movie as "sand-lot writing and direction and a rookie performance by Reagan". Reagan would soon be farmed out to television's' Death Valley Days and General Electric Theater, before politics.

As for Doris, who was a personal friend and a former date of Reagan's , she was neither hurt or helped by the film. It was a mere interlude for her, and she showed she could be just as sweet and a devoted wife as June Allyson. It was her second straight drama and she would not be in another until she joined forces with Alfred Hitchcock in The Man Who Knew Too Much".
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Re: The Winning Team

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In Tom Santopietro's book Considering Doris Day he writes this about Doris in The Winning Team. "It's not that Doris is bad in this film; she in fact received generally positive reviews, The Hollywood Reporter stating, "Miss Day gives her finest dramatic performance to date, playing Aimee with sensitiveness and understanding". The problem is that she is not required to do anything but appear helpful and supportive. She had nothing to do but show up, and a passive Doris Day is not the Doris Day of viewer interest."

I have always thought that The Winning Team would have been more interesting if it had been filmed in colour.

The other significant factor that would have made the film more compelling is if the leading actor had a stronger emotional depth than Ronald Reagan. This begs the question, What would The Winning Team be with a different leading man like Gregory Peck, Jack Lemmon, Jeff Chandler, or Paul Newman? Doris would have had more chemistry with any one of these actors.

My choice would have been Gregory Peck. It is unfortunate that Doris and Gregory never had a chance to work together. Gregory and Audrey Hepburn were sensational in Roman Holiday. I think Doris and Gregory would have created a similar magic.
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Re: The Winning Team

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The Winning Team Movie Trivia:(IMDb)


"According to TMC, Ronald Reagan had lobbied hard to play the title role in The Stratton Story(1949), but Warner Brothers didn't want to take a chance on a baseball film and passed on the project. After "The Stratton Story", became a huge hit the he studio picked up the Grover Cleveland Alexander story about another player who made a comeback after being forced from professional baseball."


The opening credits show Grover Cleveland Alexander's plaque at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown N.Y. it is accurate in all respects except one:it shows Ronald Reagan's likeness instead of the real Grover Cleveland Alexander.

Before making this film together, Doris Day and Ronald Reagan had dated in real life. When he hesitated about asking for her hand in marriage at the time, she accepted a proposal from Martin Melcher, to whom she remain married until his death in 1968 at age 53.


This was the third Warner Brothers film in which studio contract players Doris Day and Ronald Reagan both appeared. The first was, It's a Great Feeling, in which Reagan had a cameo appearance as himself and had no s Enes with Day. The second was the anti-Klan melodrama Storm Warning , in which Reagan played a crusading District Attorney and Day played the unsuspecting wife of a Klansmen. They would remain dear friends for the rest of their lives.

The film's success, grossing about $1.7 million, was a contributing factor in Doris Day placing 7th. on the 1952 list of Top Ten Box Office Stars.


Per Wikipedia , Grover Cleveland Alexander "has the distinction of being named after one U.S. president and being played on-screen by another".
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Re: The Winning Team

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Bosley Crowther 's New York Times Review -The Winning Team -June 21-1952. Excerpts

The interesting and thoughtful perspective in this review is the importance of Mrs. Grover Cleveland Alexander played sympathetically and effectively by Doris Day.

"The one thing about baseball heroes that sport pages never seem to tell is how dependent they are for their courage and their competence upon their wives.
.....

"Most recent film low-down on a hero who owed his genius and his poise to his wife concerns the late Grover Cleveland Alexander's popularity known as Alec the Great in "The Winning Team", a baseball drama the Warners' tossed into the Mayfair yesterday. We are handed some information about old Alex that has heretofore been obscured. We are told that it was Mrs. Alexander who really supplied the final punch for all these celebrated victories that are credited to Alex's pitching score. It is she who gives Alex the encouragement to win his first major league game when he comes in a lanky rookie to the Phillies in 1911.

"And Ronald Reagan playing the redoubtable Alex , and Doris Day playing his wife couldn't have put so much yearning into their roles if this weren't so."

"Most reassuring however is the fact that a technical advisor on this film was Mrs. Grover Cleveland Alexander .After all she should know."
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Re: The Winning Team

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Turner Classic Movies
Review: The Winning Team (1952)

April 23- 2010

"Ronald Reagan had been at Warner Bros. for 15 years and had appeared in 40 Warner Bros. productions when he made his last film under contract to the studio, The Winning Team (1952). The film is the biography of baseball great Glover Cleveland Alexander, who had died in 1950. Alexander struggled with illness and alcoholism,and was best known for leading the St. Louis Cardinals to victory in the 1926 World Series over a powerhouse New York Yankees team that included Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. The Winning Team was a fitting swan song for Reagan, who had worked as a radio announcer for the Chicago Cubs before turning to acting on the 1930's and was an avid sports fan. A few years earlier, Reagan had begged Jack Warner to loan him out to MGM to play pitcher Monty Stratton in The Stratton Story (1949), but Warner told him " nobody want to see movies about sports or cripples".After that film, starring James Stewart became a hit , Warner agreed to make The Winning Team and gave Reagan the lead.

Doris Day was top- billed , plays Alexander's wife Aimee, who sticks by him through all his troubles. In fact, the "winning team" of the title refers not to any of the baseball teams for which Alexander played, but to the partnership between Alexander and his wife. Aimee Alexander was the film 's technical adviser, and her name is featured prominently in the credits. Known at the time primarily for musicals, Day had only one song in The Winning Team, but turned in a strong dramatic performance.

At 41, Reagan was really too old to play Alexander in his prime as a pitcher, but Reagan worked hard , training for three weeks with Jerry Priddy of the Detroit Tigers, Bob Lemon of the Cleveland Indians- and Arnold "Jigger" Statz , a contemporary of Alexander. They taught him, Reagan recalled, "the difference between throwing from the mound and just throwing". He was believable as a baseball player, and handled the dramatic challenges of the role credibly as well.

But if the baseball looked authentic, The Winning Team suffers from the usual sanitized treatment of biographical films of the era, glossing over some important facts about the pitcher's life. Perhaps the biggest omission is that Alexander's epilepsy is never mentioned by name. In the film, his neurological disorder is diagnosed as double vision. Alexander himself had hidden his illness from the public, preferring to be known as drunk rather than someone who suffered from a debilitating illness. Reagan felt the continuing cover-up in the film added to the stigma."I have always regretted that we did not use the word, although we tried to get the idea across. The trouble was that a frank naming of the illness would have the ring of truth , whereas ducking it made some critics accuse us if inventing something to whitewash his alcoholism". The Winning Team accurately portrays a washed-up Alexander playing for a comedy baseball team , The House of David, and working in sideshows before his triumphant comeback in the 1926 World Series. But those humiliations actually happened after his career declined and his drinking increased , in the 1930's.

Decades later, baseball historian Bill James called the Winning Team, "an awful movie, a Reader's Digest movie, reducing the event of Alexander's life to a cliche. But reviewers at the time were more polite. The Time critic wrote, "The Winning Team dramatizes the UPS and downs of Alexander's career in conventional and sometime fanciful screen style" Variety called it , "A Conventionally- treated screen biography ", and praised the performances: "Ronald Reagan tackles the Alexander character, proving passable as a ballplayer and okay as the man. Doris Day, on whose name the film rests the chief marquee draw, contributes a sincere, moving portrayal as Alexander's wife."

For Reagan, The Winning Team would remain one of his favourites. As Tony Thomas writes in the Films of Ronald Reagan (1980). "The film gave Reagan one of his best opportunities as an actor , and one in which he conveyed both his own enthusiasm for the game and the glorious ups and painful downs of Grocer Cleavland Alexander. It is an intelligent, skillful , sympathetic performance ".
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Johnny
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Re: The Winning Team

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In David Kaufman's book on Doris Day, there is a passage on the making of The Winning Team:
"After both Day and Reagan showed up at the studio for tests on December 7th shooting began on the twelfth and concluded January 28th - one day behind schedule. The real Mrs. Grover Cleveland Alexander, Aimee, served as the film's "technical advisor" , and later went on tour to promote it. Foy filled out the cast with a number of major league players. The Cleveland Indians star pitcher Bob Lemon -a future manager of the New York Yankees, was on hand to coach Reagan".
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