This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.


When Major Leaguers Play Themselves: “Rawhide”

Posted by on

By Matt Singer

In honor of the start of the 2008 baseball season, will be paying tribute to the national pastime’s long relationship with the movies every day this week by giving you everything you’d ever want to know about the odd little quasi-autobiographical ditties in which baseball players have played themselves. Peanuts and crackerjacks not included.

04022008_rawhide.jpgRawhide (1938)
Directed by Ray Taylor
As Himself: Lou Gehrig

Game Story: Celebrated ballplayer Lou Gehrig announces he’s through with the game and is moving out west to live on his sister’s farm and become a cowboy. “I’m gonna wallow in peace and quiet for the rest of my life!” Gehrig vows to the incredulous reporters who come to Grand Central Station to see him off. But when he arrives at the family homestead, he discovers some hoodlums have turned the local ranchers’ association into a protection racket. Gehrig teams with a local singing lawyer/cowboy/pugilist (Smith Ballew) to clean up the town. Yes, that’s right — the Lou Gehrig Western is a musical, too.

On-Field Achievements: Until he was diagnosed with the crippling disease that now bears his name, Gehrig played in 2,130 consecutive games, a record that stood for more than half a century until Cal Ripken Jr. broke it in 1995. But the Iron Horse was more than some guy who just played every day — he still holds the records for the most runs scored and driven in by a first baseman, as well as the record for the most career grand slams by any position player — 23.

On-Screen Achievements: As you’d expect, Gehrig smashes the evil syndicate and does it in style. In one major fight scene set in a saloon, Gehrig, who performs a healthy portion of his own stunts, takes out the bad guys by hurling pool balls at their heads. Later, when a bunch of goons keep him from seeing his sister, who’s about to be coerced into signing a contract to join the syndicate, he gets her attention by finding a bunch of local kids, commandeering their bat and ball and busting the villain’s window with a well-placed liner.

Errors Committed: If only this movie were true, and if Gehrig, who passed away in 1941 at the age of 37, had been able to live out his retirement sitting on his sister’s porch in a rocking chair. In reality, his decline was brutally swift; When “Rawhide” was filmed in the winter before the 1938 season, he had no physical symptoms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Within months of opening day, Gehrig’s illness had already begun to significantly affect his performance. For a player who prided himself on consistency, it was a devastating blow. Gehrig retired a little over a year later.

Discoveries: The final title card reads “The characters and events depicted in this photoplay are purely fictional. Any similarity to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.” So, apparently, Lou Gehrig was an invention of screenwriters Daniel Jarrett and Jack Natteford working in concert with a cabal of journalists and members of the New York Yankees organization.

Substitutions: Gehrig spent most of his career in the shadow of Babe Ruth, but in the cinematic arena, he’s got the Babe beat. Ruth has had more features devoted to retelling his life story, but the one about Gehrig, 1942’s “The Pride of the Yankees” with Gary Cooper in the lead, remains more popular than all of them put together and routinely appears on lists of the greatest sports movies of all time. ( recently ranked it #13 in just such an article.)

Final Score: Gehrig may well be the greatest acting baseball player to play himself in history. The film takes him well out of his element — allegedly, Gehrig never rode a horse before commencing filming on “Rawhide,” yet onscreen, old Biscuit Pants is a charismatic and charming presence and even a gifted physical comedian. In one scene, he draws laughs with the exaggeratedly confused way he rides his horse (“Awfully… rough… road!” he groans to his traveling partner). Throughout history, baseball players have routinely been treated like movie stars and they’ve often looked like movie stars. But when actually got in front of the camera, they rarely acted like movie stars. Gehrig comes the closest.

[Photo: “Rawhide” poster, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, 1938]

Part 1: Babe Ruth in “Headin’ Home”
Part 2: Joe DiMaggio in “Manhattan Merry-Go-Round”
Part 4: Jackie Robinson in “The Jackie Robinson Story”
Part 5: Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle in “Safe at Home!”; Keith Hernandez on “Seinfeld”



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

Posted by on
GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

Posted by on

Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

Posted by on
Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.