PRIDE OF THE YANKEES is the grand-daddy of all baseball movies. Cooper's performance, as I can't help but keep mentioning, is stellar. Teresa Wright as his wife helps keep the hankies moist but she is also very spunky and strong. Walter Brennan (who also played opposite Cooper in MEET JOHN DOE where John Doe is a semi-pro pitcher) is in a supporting role here but provides desperately needed comic relief.
And perhaps I'm wrong to categorize PRIDE OF THE YANKESS as merely a baseball film. It is about human potential, human frailty, and above all human strength during times of crisis. Lou Gehrig's tragedy occurred during a time of extreme crisis in America, and, I believe, his strong steady public appearances helped the nation through it. PRIDE OF THE YANKEES could easily have been named "Strength of America" in my mind. It's that important a film.
Gary Cooper plays Lou Gehrig with a childlike naivete which I know was charming in its day but today it feels like you would have to lock someone up who was his age and still that childlike. And I really did want to play along with the most classic scene in the film but found it funnier than any campy parody I have seen over the years. The little boy in the hospital who is sitting by the radio because the Babe and Lou promised him they would each hit home runs form him. "Little Billy" sits in pajamas in the hospital by the radio. He listens earnestly with a expectant vapid open mouth expression waiting. Its as if his ability to ever walk again hung on the success of that hit. Bottom of the sixth Gehrig disappoints by striking out for his second time in a row still one short of the two promised home runs, you can tell the kid is thinking "Damn" but instead says "Golly"! I am glad I wasn't drinking anything at the time because it would shot through my nose trying to hold back the laugh. Pride of the Yankess does hearken back to simpler times but is perhaps so gentle and guileless it crosses the line into accidental comedy.
However I did very much enjoy the relationship between the two competing sportswriters who mock each others favorite players much like Statler and Waldorf the two old geezers in The Muppet Show. Walter Brennan plays writer Sam Blake who roots for Lou and does a wonderful job. He is so slender of build here he is almost unrecognizable in this role.
I am sure most people will have a fine time enjoying this film and Lou Gehrigs touching farewell speech.
There are few professional athletes in the world who show so much character and so much love to others as Gehrig did. He faced death with honor and courage. He was and is a true hero. If you're looking for an athlete for your children to look up to, pick the "Iron Man of Baseball."
This film does exceptionally well in capturing the heart and soul of Gehrig. It is a great family film and I highly recommend it. Gehrig might have been in Ruth's(and later, DiMaggio's)shadow, but he was so much bigger than these guys. He was honest, hard-working, and approached people long after the cameras were gone.
Add this one to your collection. It's a keeper, even if you don't know the difference between a baseball and a ball of yarn.
Here is the full text of Gehrig's speech:
'Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break. Read more