Back in September 2008, I made a brief mention of the movie The Cowboy Quarterback, writing:
It's one of the few movies of the era to deal with professional football -- but the team in the movie is the Chicago Packers! The movie, however, is a remake of 1933's Elmer the Great. A professional athlete gets brought to the big city, and quickly runs up a big gambling tab, at which point the gamblers try to get him to throw the big game.
Well, Elmer the Great is airing tomorrow morning at 7:30 AM on TCM as part of a day of baseball movies. Personally, I think this is a story that works better in football for one key reason. The gamblers ask him to throw the big game, and when Elmer (Joe E. Brown) starts playing terribly, you'd think the logical response would be to substitute him. Except of course, that if you do that in baseball, you can't put him back in. The plot resolution works better in football, where you can put in your second-string quarterback and then put your first-string quarterback back in the game if you so desire.
One thing that I got wrong in my September 2008 comments is the date of Elmer the Great, which actually dates to 1935. What's a few years among friends? Also, I said that The Cowboy Quarterback is a remake of Elmer the Great. In fact, both movies are a remake of Fast Company, more or less. At least, Fast Company was the first movie version of Ring Lardner's play Elmer the Great.