The Pride of the Yankees (1942)
Reviewed on 2008 February 6
I’m not interested in sports, per se, but this is a great movie about a wonderful baseball player and a good man.
After a heartfelt title card from Damon Runyon, the movie starts with a young Lou Gehrig, showing his batting skills early. While playing a game of baseball with some neighborhood kids he hits the ball so hard it breaks a store window, to both the dismay and the amazement of the cop who contacts his parents. We meet his family here, and his mother (Elsa Janssen) may be overbearing, but she wants the best for Lou. She wants him to go to school and put sports behind him.
Lou (Gary Cooper) goes through college, though he realizes his real mission in life is to be a ball player. He makes a name for himself and ultimately brings around his parents, and he does it in his quiet, modest way. We see the way he meets his wife, Eleanor Twitchell (Teresa Wright), and the love they have for each other. And of course, how his life is cut too short.
Good to look at as he may be, Gary Cooper was a little too old to play a college kid, but that’s a minor squabble, and he plays Lou with grace. The chemistry between Cooper and Wright worked. There are points when I felt the movie dragged a bit and I wondered why this was such a long film, especially for the time when it was made. It was because Sam Wood had two hours and eight minutes to get people who didn’t know about Lou Gehrig to love him. He pulls it off. I felt my eyes tear up while Cooper was delivering Gehrig’s famous speech. Eleanor Gehrig must have been a gem too: she let Teresa Wright wear the actual bracelet Lou had made for her, and it’s now in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Honestly, as sentimental as I am, I would have a hard time parting with something Mr. Shukti gave me.
Three chocolate morsels, with some peanuts and Cracker Jack®.