It Happens Every Spring (1949)

Article #1359 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-3-2005
Posting Date: 5-2-2005
Directed by Lloyd Bacon
Featuring Ray Milland, Jean Peters, Paul Douglas

A chemistry professor develops a liquid that, when rubbed over any object, will cause it to be repelled by wood. In order to make money to marry his sweetheart, he gets a job as a pitcher on a baseball team, and uses the substance on baseballs to help them win the pennant.

So what happens every spring? Don’t let the title, the romantic opening song, nor the pictures of amorous animals frolicking with each other during the opening credits fool you; as far as this movie is concerned, the love bug is not causing the illness of choice at this time of the year, it’s baseball fever. Sure, it has a love story in it, but that’s largely a plot device to get Ray Milland pitching a string of no-hitters. As I’m not a fan of sports, I don’t have a lot of use for sports fantasy films like this (though technically it is science fiction), but this one is well done, has great special effects and a good running gag (everyone thinks the liquid is hair tonic and keeps borrowing it; it works well enough at first, but when they try use a wooden brush on their hair, it makes them look like Moe Howard). Most of all, it’s well acted by all concerned, especially Paul Douglas as the team’s catcher. And I’m especially happy that it doesn’t contain a single kidnapping subplot.

On a side note, I always like talking about coincidental similarities between movies I watch in close succession, and the last six movies I’ve seen have a startling array of plot similarites. Here’s a list.

1) I’ve seen two movies which feature musical numbers interspersed with human sacrifices. (HELP!, HER JUNGLE LOVE)

2) I’ve seen two movies in which a liquid is concocted in the laboratory that is used to help the local sports team. (Baseball in IT HAPPENS EVERY SPRING, Football in HOLD THAT LINE).

3) I’ve seen two ghost stories that open with conductors leading an orchestra (HALFWAY HOUSE, HOUSE OF DARKNESS).

4) I’ve seen two Ray Milland movies. (IT HAPPENS EVERY SPRING, HER JUNGLE LOVE).

5) I’ve seen two movies which feature scenes of a man being shrunk down to less than his usual size. (HOLD THAT LINE, HELP!)

P.S. Keep your eyes peeled for Alan Hale Jr. (Skipper on “Gilligan’s Island”) as a college baseball player.


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