Jerome Storm | The Busher
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Jerome Storm was a Hollywood film director, mainly of silent films.
He is also known as Jerome Stern.
The Busher (1919) is a comedy-drama about a small town baseball player.
The Busher derives its title from "the bush leagues": American slang for minor league baseball teams
in remote areas. The phrase "bush leagues" is still in common use today.
But the related term "busher" for a player in those leagues, has vanished from
The hero in The Busher plays on a small town baseball team.
But it is not made clear, strictly speaking, that his team is an actual Minor League team
in the technical sense the word is used today. His small town team looks completely
amateur and non-commercial, and not even advanced enough to be part of a real Minor League.
A surprising amount of The Busher is taken up by looks at the media:
An interest in films-within-films and telegraphs can be found in the early 1910's work
of such Gaumont directors as Louis Feuillade
and Léonce Perret.
- The box social is auctioned with the women standing in silhouette behind a screen,
like a screen in a movie theater.
- The film's best scene involves a telegram.
- The heroine reads newspaper accounts of the hero, and saves a clipping of his picture in the paper.
Transforming the Hero
Perret's L'Enfant de Paris (The Child of Paris) (1913)
shows its poverty stricken hero undergoing a transformation into a more prosperous character.
He gets to dress up in a decent suit, and experience all sorts of
middle class activities that were previously denied him.
The hero of The Busher undergoes a somewhat similar transformation.
Like Perret's hero, he begins the film as a man pathetically cut off from modern life.
Eventually, he gets good clothes and a new life in the city.
There are scenes of him startled by elements of city life, from telegrams to
hotel portals with fancy doormen.
However, unlike Perret's film, The Busher shows a dark side to all this.
Perret's hero simply goes from poverty to a fuller life. The Busher
instead moves from an honest-but-limited country life, to a corrupt city one.
He also neglects and rejects his friends.
The Busher shows gambling as a vice accompanying baseball.
Like most Americans before roughly 1975, The Busher views gambling as a social evil.
The Busher was released in May 1919, just four months before the infamous Black Sox
scandal began in early October. Clearly, gambling was a major problem in baseball of the era.
The problems in The Busher are minor compared to this real-life scandal, but the film's
idea of a link between baseball and gambling is accurate.
The hero and his rival show up at the start, each brandishing their own phallic symbol.
The hero carries his baseball bat, the rich banker's son drives his fancy automobile.
The hero's emblem exemplifies his skill, and is a symbol open to all classes.
The banker's son's symbol is something he has purchased, and is only open to the wealthy.
It does not represent his own skill.
Most of the professional ball players the hero later meets seem much older then him.
They also have bigger bodies.
They seem to represent a "world of men", one that is older and more established than the young hero.
However, they tend not to be as tall as the hero.
The pyramidal structure on the farm at the start is striking. Its tilted walls are used
to make the compositions more interesting.
Uniforms play a key role in the film's visual storytelling. The characters wear many types
of baseball uniforms, depending on the kind of team for which they are playing.
The hotel doorman is also in a fancy uniform.