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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
I enjoyed it as much as the first time I watched it. I loved the book and the movie was faithful to it. Clever and lots of fun!Published 22 days ago by Audrey Samelson
Thank you - I made the mistake of loaning my original copy and never got it back - glad to have this movie again. It was one of my favorites when I was a kid - made me laugh.Published 1 month ago by Patricia Heinbach
Sweet family movie that cat fans will especially love. However, if you're a fan of the hilarious novel by H. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Leslie Mac
I set my TV set setting to BRIGHT rather than Normal, Wide, or Cinema and it looked FABULOUS, just like it would have in a theater. GREAT classic old movie. Read morePublished 5 months ago by CatMom3
I saw this movie when I was 8--I am now 71. I never forgot the movie, or the name Rhubarb!!!!! Just a feel good movie for all ages. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Ellen H. Reaves