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Biopic traces the life of Lou Gehrig, famous baseball player who played in 2130 consecutive games before falling at age 37 to ALS, a deadly nerve disease which now bears his name. Gehrig is followed from his childhood in New York until his famous 'Luckiest Man' speech at his farewell day in 1939.Written by
Jerry Milani <email@example.com>
Yankees catcher Bill Dickey initially turned down Samuel Goldwyn's offer to play himself in the film, saying "It would be awful hard for me to call Gary Cooper 'Lou,'" whereupon Goldwyn announced that Dickey would be played by Dana Andrews. Dickey later changed his mind. See more »
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Right off, let me say that I agree that this is a great baseball movie - perhaps the greatest. The on-field action is beautifully portrayed and realistic, and the authenticity is heightened, of course, by having Babe Ruth playing himself. The inspiring and ultimately tragic story of the great Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig has a deeper purpose though; deeper, but not hidden. We see it right in the scroll that runs before the movie even begins. This movie was made in 1942 at the height of World War II. Gehrig is going to be portrayed as the great American hero, who faced life and death with valor and courage. This is a message to the American kids on the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific who grew up watching their hero Gehrig play baseball: "do your duty! It's what Gehrig would have done!" So let's acknowledge that while "Pride Of The Yankees" is undoubtedly a great baseball movie, it's also a piece of wartime propaganda. Nothing wrong with that, by the way. I just think it should be acknowledged. And while Gehrig is being held up as the great American hero, it's also worth noting that he's portrayed very humanly, too. Stumbling over the bats as he goes to the plate for the first time in place of poor old Wally Pipp, who doesn't know that he's just lost his job forever; totally oblivious to a ground ball that goes right past him because he's mesmerized by Eleanor in the stands; the butt of rookie gags by his teammates (the eating of Babe Ruth's hat comes to mind here). Gehrig is approachable and likeable in this movie, not some godlike being who's so far beyond us as to be meaningless.
The performances are great. Gary Cooper pulled off the role of Gehrig perfectly. Having said that I have to say that I thought Cooper looked a bit too old to be a college kid as he portrayed Gehrig's college days. Teresa Wright was equally good as Lou's beloved Eleanor. The movie really revolved around these two. Others are largely window-dressing. Worth noting, though, are Elsa Janssen and Ludwig Stossel as Gehrig's parents. They added a wonderful touch of humour to the movie, even if they did come across as a bit unrealistic. But, then again, who knows? I didn't know Gehrig's parents! Maybe this was them!
Anyway, this is very enjoyable all around, with a fittingly touching conclusion, as Gehrig says good-bye to the fans at Yankee Stadium.
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