“Angels in the Outfield,” from 1951, tells a fanciful story about the Pittsburgh Pirates and their foul-mouthed manager, played by Paul Douglas. A reporter, played by Janet Leigh, tries to figure out what makes him tick, and why the team is on such a losing streak. Then Douglas is visited by an angel who offers him a kind of salvation if he will clean up his act, so to speak. The beauty here is that we never see the angels who come to the Pirates’ rescue—as we did in the souped-up 1994 remake. This movie invites you to use your imagination for a thoroughly enjoyable slice of Hollywood whimsy.
And no offense to Steve Martin, who did a fine job in the 1991 remake of “Father of the Bride,” but there’s only one Spencer Tracy. This film doesn’t deal in slapstick, but instead the wry recounting of a father’s misadventures as his daughter prepares for her nuptials. She’s played by an heart-stoppingly beautiful Elizabeth Taylor, who had just made headlines with her first real-life wedding in 1950. But it’s the hapless, harried Tracy who makes this well-cast, well-written film his own.
These films may be sixty years old but they’re still richly entertaining today—and may hold up better than their modern-day remakes.