Elmer, the Great

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Elmer, the Great
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mervyn LeRoy
Written by Ring Lardner (play)
George M. Cohan (play)
Produced by Raymond Griffith
Starring Joe E. Brown
Patricia Ellis
Cinematography Arthur L. Todd
Edited by Thomas Pratt
Music by Leo F. Forbstein
Distributed by First National Pictures
Release date
April 29, 1933
Running time
72 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$200,000 [1]

Elmer, the Great is a 1933 American pre-Code comedy film directed by Mervyn LeRoy, starring Joe E. Brown and Patricia Ellis. [2]



Elmer Kane (Joe E. Brown) is a rookie ballplayer with the Chicago Cubs whose ego is matched only by his appetite. Because he is not only vain but naive, Elmer's teammates take great delight in pulling practical jokes on him. Still, he is so valuable a player that the Cubs management hides the letters from his hometown sweetheart Nellie (Patricia Ellis), so that Elmer won't bolt the team and head for home. When Nellie comes to visit Elmer, she finds him in an innocent but compromising situation with a glamorous actress (Claire Dodd). She turns her back on him, and disconsolate Elmer tries to forget his troubles at a crooked gambling house. Elmer incurs an enormous gambling debt, which the casino's owner is willing to forget if Elmer will only throw the deciding World Series game (which he refers to as the World Serious).

Elmer brawls with the gambler and lands in jail, where he learns of a particularly cruel practical joke that had previously been played on him. Out of spite, he refuses to play in the Big Game, and thanks to a jailhouse visit by the gamblers, it looks as though Elmer has taken a bribe, but when he shows up to play (after patching things up with Nellie), Elmer proves that he's been true-blue all along. Based on the 1928 Broadway play by Ring Lardner and George M. Cohan, Elmer, the Great betrays its stage origins in its static early scenes, before building to a climax during a rain-soaked ball game.


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