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Elmer the Great

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Elmer the Great starring Joe E. Brown, Patricia Ellis
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Elmer the Great (1933) starring Joe E. Brown, Patricia Ellis

Synopsis of Elmer the Great

Elmer the Great starring Joe E. Brown, Patricia Ellis

In Elmer the Great, a country bumpkin with an incredible batting average becomes an unlikely baseball star. 

Review of Elmer the Great

On one hand, the plot of Elmer the Great is as simple as “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back”.  Mixed with the World Series, a very arrogant baseball player, and gamblers.  And it’s a very enjoyable, fun movie as a result.

As in Alibi Ike, Joe E Brown plays a young man who’s arrogant, but still likable.  The likability stems in part from the negative things that happen to him.  In addition to the audience’s empathy, Elmer’s bragging is … correct.  Despite being a country bumpkin, he really is a great baseball player, especially at bat.  Neither his attitude nor his showing them up endear him to his teammates.  At least, at first.

Elmer’s growth, loss, regaining the woman he loves, and the finale more than compensate for a slow opening.  Elmer the Great is a very good comedy, and strongly recommended.

Cast of characters in Elmer the Great

  • Elmer Kane (Joe E. BrownShowboat).  The country bumpkin title character, who doesn’t want to play for the Chicago Cubs.  Because that would mean leaving his “boss” — the woman he loves:
  • Nellie (Patricia EllisBlock-Heads).  Elmer’s love interest – who pretends that she doesn’t love him, so that he’ll go be a success.  But she does love him, and writes to him … although he doesn’t receive the letters.  She goes to visit him, only to see him being kissed by a pretty girl.  Hence, boy loses girl.
  • Nick Kane (Sterling HollowayThe Jungle Book).  A very young Sterling Holloway has a minor role as Elmer’s brother at the beginning of the film.  He “helps” convince Elmer to join the Cubs.
  • Healy High-Hips (Frank McHughI Love You Again).  One of Elmer’s teammates, who at first joins the others in pranking him.  Eventually, he becomes a true friend – despite taking Elmer to a gambling den, where Elmer gets in debt.
  • Evelyn (Claire DoddIn the Navy).  The attractive young lady, who is seen kissing Elmer by Nellie.  Despite joining in one of the pranks, she’s not a bad person.
  • Walker (Preston FosterKansas City Confidential).  The professional gambler who thinks that he can have Elmer throw the World Series.

Editorial review of Elmer the Great courtesy of

Joe E. Brown scores laughter and hits a grand slam in the baseball comedy Elmer, the Great, based on play by Ring Lardner and George M. Cohan. The pride of Gentryville, Indiana, small town slugger Elmer Kane (Brown) is the king of batters, celebrated for his ego, appetite and game-winning home runs. So when the Chicago Cubs attempt to sign him to a contract, Elmer refuses if it means leaving Nellie (Patricia Ellis), the woman he loves. So when she pretends to spurn him, a forlorn Elmer packs his bat and heads to the Windy City. Taking the city by storm, Elmer leads the Cubs to the pennant. But when gamblers try to get him to throw the Series. Elmer must find a way to outsmart the crooks if he’s to win both his girl and the games.

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