Elmer, the Great

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Movie Info

Joe E. Brown plays Elmer Kane, 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. 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 Broadway play by Ring Lardner and George M. Cohan, Elmer the Great betrays its stage origins in its static early scenes, but builds confidently to a terrific climax during a rain-soaked ball game. This enjoyable film was the second in Joe E. Brown's "baseball trilogy" (see also Fireman Save My Child and Alibi Ike). Elmer the Great was remade in 1939 as Cowboy Quarterback, with Bert Wheeler in Joe E. Brown's part and with football substituting for baseball.


Joe E. Brown
as Elmer Kane
Patricia Ellis
as Nellie Poole
Frank McHugh
as Healy High-Hips
Claire Dodd
as Evelyn Corey
Emma Dunn
as Mrs. Kane
Charles C. Wilson
as Bull McWade
Jessie Ralph
as Sarah Crosby
Charles Delaney
as Johnny Abbott
Berton Churchill
as Col. Moffitt
Jane Wyman
as Bit Part
Gale Gordon
as Radio Announcer at End
Robert E. Homans
as Police Captain
Bernice Hansen
as Telephone Operator
Roy Gordon
as Dice-Table Operator
Gus Leonard
as Old Man in Barber Shop
Charles Root
as Ballplayer
Larry French
as Ballplayer
Bill Brubaker
as Ballplayer
Charlie Moncrief
as Ballplayer
Tut Steinback
as Ballplayer
Wally Hood
as Ballplayer
George Burns
as Ballplayer
Truck Hannah
as Ballplayer
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Critic Reviews for Elmer, the Great

All Critics (1)

  • If anyone missed the other performances of Elmer they may be surprised to find Joe E. Brown actually playing straight in this one; a task seemingly impossible for Hollywood comedians, but one which adds a great deal to the pleasure of the audience.

    Jun 14, 2019 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Elmer, the Great

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