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Rhubarb

74 customer reviews

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Rhubarb + It Happens Every Spring + Angels in the Outfield (1951)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A charming and fast-paced screwball comedy starring screen legend Ray Milland and enchanting beauty Jan Sterling. Trouble follows when an eccentric millionaire bequeaths his fortune - and his baseball team - to his pet cat! Now the team s publicist (Milland) must convince the players that Rhubarb is the key to their success, at the same time evading gangsters and avoiding the wrath of his lovely - and allergic - fiancé! Rhubarb is a hilarious comedy classic in the style of Bringing Up Baby and His Girl Friday.

Review

Two of the more popular early postwar Hollywood genres were comic fantasies, often built around a popular sport (It Happens Every Spring), and comedies, also with fantasy elements, about precocious animals (The Great Rupert, etc.). Rhubarb (1951) combines the two into a pleasing if mild concoction that children might still take to, while film buffs will find much to enjoy. [...]

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


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Ray Milland, Jan Sterling, Gene Lockhart, Rhubarb the Cat
  • Directors: Arthur Lubin
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Legend Films
  • DVD Release Date: July 1, 2008
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0019UGYBE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,851 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Rhubarb" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By calvinnme HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 22, 2008
Format: DVD
If you've never seen this 1951 screwball comedy, you have missed a real gem. A cat that can fight and beat dogs, an eccentric baseball team owner who dies and leaves the team to the cat (Rhubarb), the cat's guardian (Ray Milland) whose fiancee is allergic to cats, a group of gangsters who believe Rhubarb is hurting their earnings in the field of betting (the team begins to win after they believe Rhubarb is good luck), and the dead owner's relations who have been left penniless by Rhubarb usurping them in their inheritance all mix together to make great fun for cat lovers and baseball lovers alike. Nobody remembers this one very much because it is rarely televised and also because it was made by Paramount, a studio that tends to neglect its many classic films. In fact, the expression that the Joker utters in the 1989 Batman film : "Never rub another man's Rhubarb" refers to this film, although almost everyone assumed a more unsavory meaning for the expression. The baseball team in this film starts to turn their luck around when one batter pets (rubs) Rhubarb before a game. It really is a great family movie, but not many people at all have seen this one and thus few understand what the Joker was talking about.

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.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Annie Van Auken TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 25, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Fourteen felines were used to make the screwball comedy RHUBARB; the most famous of these was "Orangey," who 10 years later was "Cat" in "Breakfast at Tiffany's." Old Wrigley Field in Los Angeles appears here; sports fans may recall this park from the early '60s TV show, "Home Run Derby."

"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 ›
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Glenn Richmond on August 14, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I've waited for years for this to be released on video. I don't think that it ever made out on video tape. But this DVD is well worth the wait. Beautiful glorious black & white picture and superb sound quality. Highly recommended for any classic movie buff. Watch for a very young Leonard Nimoy!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Allen Smalling TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 22, 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The premise is as silly as they come, but it's a wonderful movie anyway. An aging millionaire (Gene Lockhart) captures and (partially) tames a feisty, scruffy orange tomcat he names "Rhubarb" (originally slang for a baseball-game fracas). The millionaire dies and leaves his $30 million estate, including a Brooklyn baseball team, to the cat, and appoints his assistant (Ray Milland) the cat's guardian. The baseball team initially resent Rhubarb but warm up to him and make him their mascot and good-luck charm; the team's playing improves so much they're in contention for the pennant. Trouble intervenes in the form of the millionaire's selfish daughter, who tries to have Rhubarb declared invalid in court. Did I mention that the team manager's daughter, played by Jan Sterling, is engaged to Ray Milland's character but deathly allergic to Rhubarb? This is the kind of comedy they don't make anymore and probably couldn't if they tried: it has real heart, some wit, and lots of slapstick. William Frawley ("Fred Mertz" on I LOVE LUCY) plays the team manager. Look quick for a very young Leonard Nimoy as one of the ballplayers; Sterling's then-husband, Paul Douglas, gets off an impromptu pun on the name of his best-known film at the movie's very end. Good for all ages. Currently there are no extras but the DVD is quite cheap.

Comparison IMDb ratings (1951 films):
ON THE RIVIERA - 6.4
RHUBARB - 6.7
ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD - 6.9
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 16, 2007
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
It's an inexpensive vhs copy, but it's pretty good quality if you remember the original. This is a movie I'd love to see on dvd, or even remake if hollywood didn't ruin it. It's a cute story of a losing ball team that is inherited by the cat of the rich owner. The owner's daughter is not happy and seeks revenge. The team manager gets the duty of the cat's caretaker, despite his fiance's cat allergy. The cat is not known for it's friendliness, by the way. Of course it has the required happy ending for movies of this era. My 6 and 8 year old kids even enjoyed it.
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