The Pride of the Yankees: Wikis

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The Yankees- Filled with Pride

1942 film poster
Directed by Sam Wood
Produced by Samuel Goldwyn
Written by Paul Gallico
(original story)
Jo Swerling &
Herman J. Mankiewicz
(screenplay)
Starring Gary Cooper
Teresa Wright
Walter Brennan
Babe Ruth
Dan Duryea
Music by Leigh Harline
Cinematography Rudolph Maté
Editing by Dan Mandell
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date(s) July 14, 1942
Running time 128 min.
Country USA
Language English

The Pride of the Yankees is a 1942 biographical film directed by Sam Wood about the New York Yankees baseball player, first baseman Lou Gehrig, who had his career cut short at 37 years of age when he was stricken with the fatal disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (later to become known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease"). The movie was released the year after Gehrig's death.

It stars Gary Cooper as Gehrig and co-stars Teresa Wright as his wife Eleanor and Walter Brennan as a sportswriter friend. Yankee teammates Babe Ruth, Bob Meusel, Mark Koenig and Bill Dickey play themselves, as does sportscaster Bill Stern.

The movie was adapted by Herman J. Mankiewicz, Jo Swerling, and an uncredited Casey Robinson from a story by Paul Gallico.

The film includes a re-enactment of Gehrig's farewell speech in Yankee Stadium. The famous line "Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth" was voted #38 in the American Film Institute (AFI) list of the 100 greatest movie quotes of all time.

Contents

Plot summary

Lou Gehrig (played by Cooper) is a young Columbia University student whose old-fashioned mother wants him to study hard and become an engineer. But the boy has a gift for playing baseball.

A sportswriter named Sam Blake (Walter Brennan) befriends the young player and persuades a scout to come see him play. Before long, Gehrig has a contract offer from the best team in all of baseball, the New York Yankees. With his father's help, he conspires to keep this a secret from his mother.

Gehrig eventually becomes a Yankee and joins the likes of Babe Ruth, who at first is cool to the rookie. Gehrig's strong hitting and play at first base, though, wins over his teammates, and before long he is joining them in playing pranks on Ruth on the team train.

After a game in which he trips and falls, meanwhile, Gehrig falls for a spectator, Eleanor Twitchell (Teresa Wright), who heckled him from the grandstand, dubbing him "Tanglefoot." Their relationship grows and soon Lou and Ellie plan to marry. This news, on top of learning that her son won't become an engineer, does not sit well with Lou's meddling mother.

The Yankees win championships galore and all is going well for Gehrig. Even his mother now comes to a game and cheers for her Lou. He hits two home runs in a single game as a promise to a sick boy in a hospital. He and Ellie couldn't be happier. But without warning, Gehrig, baseball's "Iron Horse" who never misses a game because of illness or injury, begins to feel something's wrong.

A doctor gives it to him straight: Gehrig is gravely ill, with only a short time to live.

Gehrig keeps on playing, keeping his illness a secret and extending his consecutive-game streak to an all-time high. But he is clearly not the player he once was, and finally one day voluntarily removes himself from a game.

At a day at Yankee Stadium in his honor, Gehrig addresses the fans, memorably telling them that while some say he got "a bad break," he considers himself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.

Miscellany

The film emphasizes the personal relationships of Gehrig's tragically short life, first, with his parents, especially his domineering mother, then his friendship with the sportswriter, Sam, and, finally, the "storybook romance" and marriage to Eleanor. The details of Gehrig's baseball career are represented by montages of ballparks, pennants and Cooper swinging bats and running bases. His record of 2,130 consecutive games is prominently mentioned.

In addition to a depiction of his farewell speech, the film includes a scene of Gehrig visiting a boy named Billy (Gene Collins) in a hospital and promising him he would hit two home runs in a single World Series game; Gehrig fulfills his promise, and an older Billy (played by David Holt) attends Lou Gehrig Day and shows Gehrig that he can walk, having made a full recovery inspired by his hero's determination.

Gehrig died on June 2, 1941.

Release

In New York City, the film premiered at the Astor Theatre and was shown for one night only at "forty neighborhood theatres"; preceding the film was the premiere of a Disney animated short called "How to Play Baseball" (produced by Disney at Samuel Goldwyn's request).[1]

Reception

The 1942 review of the film in Variety magazine called it a "stirring epitaph" and a "sentimental, romantic saga ... well worth seeing."[2] Time magazine's August 1942 review said the film was a "grade-A love story" done with "taste and distinction" though it was "somewhat overlong, repetitive, undramatic"; Time noted:[3]

Baseball fans who hope to see much baseball played in Pride of the Yankees will be disappointed. Babe Ruth is there, playing himself with fidelity and considerable humor; so are Yankees Bill Dickey, Bob Meusel, Mark Koenig. But baseball is only incidental. The hero does not hit a home run and win the girl. He is just a hardworking, unassuming, highly talented professional. The picture tells the model story of his model life in the special world of professional ballplayers.

Bosley Crowther of The New York Times called it a "tender, meticulous and explicitly narrative film" that "inclines to monotony" because of its length and devotion to "genial details."[1]

Awards and other recognition

The Pride of the Yankees won an Oscar for Film Editing. In addition, it had ten more nominations for:[4]

The American Film Institute ranked The Pride of the Yankees #22 in their list of the top 100 most inspiring movies in American cinema.

In June 2008, AFI revealed its "Ten top Ten"—the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. The Pride of the Yankees was acknowledged as the third best film in the sports genre.[5][6]

Gehrig's farewell speech

In Gehrig's actual speech on July 4, 1939, the line "Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth" was actually at the beginning of the speech but was moved to the end of the speech in the movie.

Here is the text of the actual speech given that day by Gehrig:

Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.
Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn't consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I'm lucky. Who wouldn't consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball's greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I'm lucky.
When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift - that's something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies — that's something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter — that's something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body — it's a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed - that's the finest I know.
So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for.

Here is the speech from the film:

I have been walking onto ball fields for sixteen years, and I've never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. I have had the great honor to have played with these great veteran ballplayers on my left - Murderers' Row, our championship team of 1927. I have had the further honor of living with and playing with these men on my right - the Bronx Bombers, the Yankees of today.
I have been given fame and undeserved praise by the boys up there behind the wire in the press box, my friends, the sportswriters. I have worked under the two greatest managers of all time, Miller Huggins and Joe McCarthy.
I have a mother and father who fought to give me health and a solid background in my youth. I have a wife, a companion for life, who has shown me more courage than I ever knew.
People all say that I've had a bad break. But today...today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

Adaptations to Other Media

The Pride of the Yankees was adapted as an hour-long radio play on the October 4, 1943 broadcast of Lux Radio Theater with Gary Cooper and Virginia Bruce and the September 30, 1949 broadcast of Screen Director's Playhouse starring Gary Cooper and Lurene Tuttle.

References

External links

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