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Eccentric millionaire Thaddeus J. Banner (Gene Lockhart) adopts a feral cat caught stealing golf balls from the fairways of his country club. Others hate the cat for disrupting their games, but Banner admires its spirit: "I like things that fight back," he says, "Like artichokes!" Banner, a widower, tames the cat, names it Rhubarb and the two become inseparable. Several years later, when Banner dies, he surprises his business associates and only daughter, spoiled Myra (Elsie Holmes), by leaving nearly his entire estate - some $30 million - to Rhubarb. Eric Yeager (Ray Milland), press agent for Banner's lowly baseball team, is named the pussycat's guardian.
At first, the team doesn't take to their new owner, especially when the other ballclubs and taunting fans begin teasing them about having a cat for a boss. But Yeager tricks the team into thinking Rhubarb will bring them luck, and lo and behold not only do they start enjoying Rhubarb's company, they begin winning games and become contenders in the pennant race. Meanwhile, Yeager's romance with Polly (Jan Sterling), the daughter of team manager Len Sickles (William Frawley, in his last film before playing Fred Mertz on I Love Lucy ) is threatened when she develops an allergy with the cat Yeager must baby-sit 24-7.
[...] The film's greatest asset, something the filmmakers may not have realized since it's so underemphasized, is its heart. Lockhart positively adores Rhubarb, and this eccentric old man's love of an initially unlovable stray is genuinely sweet. (Producer Seaton here reunites Lockhart with Frawley, who played the judge and his campaign manager, respectively, in Miracle on 34th Street.)
Later, in the scene where Yeager tricks the dumb and superstitious ballplayers (including a 20-year-old Leonard Nimoy) into thinking petting Rhubarb will bring them luck, the key actor in the scene is an uncredited Strother Martin (Cool Hand Luke). He's hilarious, tentatively approaching the notoriously vicious pussycat, delighted when the cat lets him pet it, then ecstatic when it seems to bring him good luck. This is one of those films crammed with great character types: look for Willard Waterman, James Griffith, Donald MacBride, Madge Blake, Tristram Coffin, Sandra Gould, Donald Kerr, and many others. Sterling's husband Paul Douglas has a funny cameo appearance at the end.
[...] Rhubarb isn't going to top any DVD bestseller lists but it's pleasant with something to offer classic film buffs and families looking for some innocent entertainment. No great shakes, but it's Recommended. --Stuart Galbraith IV of DVDTalk.com
Top Customer Reviews
This film is finally coming to DVD July 1. That is the good news. The bad news is that there will be no extras included.
"Rhubarb" is the story of a feisty feral cat who steals the golfball of an eccentric millionaire ball team owner, along with the man's heart. He eventually captures the golf course dweller and names it "Rhubarb" (which in baseball lingo is a heated argument, usually between the umpire and a coach, manager or player). After they'd spent two contented years together, the man who is now dying leaves all his money and the sports team to Rhubarb.
The players aren't too happy with being owned by a cat and they stage a mass walkout. Rhubarb's appointed caretaker, Eric Yeagar (Milland) uses some trickery to convince the superstitious team that their cat is in reality a lucky charm. Believing they can't lose makes the once faltering "Brooklyns" invincible; they win the pennant and are huge favorites to repeat in the World Series. Bookmakers overwhelmed with the number of "sure bets" decide to eliminate the source of Brooklyn's success-- Rhubarb.
Among the movie's extensive number of uncredited actors are Strother Martin ('Shorty' McGirk) and Leonard Nimoy (young ballplayer). Watch in the final scene for a cameo by Paul Douglas (Jan Sterling's husband), who uses a play on words to plug his latest project, "A Letter to Three Wives.Read more ›
Comparison IMDb ratings (1951 films):
ON THE RIVIERA - 6.4
RHUBARB - 6.7
ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD - 6.9
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a solid, well made, delightful little comedy from 1951. The cat, when we first encounter him, is feral. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Claire Dorton
Love this movie! It's one of my favorite black & white films.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
I love this movie. The cat is such an inspiration for his companions. It is funny and entertaining.Published 5 months ago by vmvioleta
Remember this film from the fifties and loved it now as then.cat lovers run to the nearest video store.don't like reading reviews and writing them that reveal too much. Read morePublished 6 months ago by buckie
Yes, it's silly, but should keep you laughing. Some similarity To another Milland film - "It happens Every Spring"Published 6 months ago by Richard R. Rutter