Thursday, February 18, 2016

Oscar Movie Review: "The Pride of the Yankees" (1942)

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Movie"The Pride of the Yankees"
Year Nominated: 1943
Director: Sam Wood
Rating: PG
Running Time: 2 hours, 8 minutes
Did It Win?: No.

The life story of major league baseball legend Lou Gehrig (Gary Cooper).

"The Pride of the Yankees" tells the  rags-to-riches life story of naturally talented, hard working baseball legend Lou Gehrig. Gehrig, played by Gary Cooper, came from humble beginnings and rose to greatness, only to have it all cut tragically short when illness befell the baseball great, causing him to retire. This film came out in 1942, the year after Lou Gehrig passed away from ALS, which is also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Though this is a biography, it breezes over much of his early years, only showing him once as a young child displaying his talent as a baseball player. It also sets the stage for what was to come about his mother's desire for him to have an education and be an engineer over everything and anything else. We then jump to his time at Columbia University, and again, the movie only spends a brief time on this part of his life. Here, we explore Gehrig's desire to please his mom and become an engineer to fulfill her dream for him. It isn't until his mother falls ill that he takes a contract with the Yankees to pay for her medical bills. The rest of the film focuses on Gehrig's professional baseball career, but not with an emphasis on his in-game accomplishments. Rather, the film shows his on going romantic relationship with his eventual wife Eleanor Twitchell, played by Teresa Wright, who was a sports writer that started out on rocky terms with her soon-to-be husband. Wright and Cooper have great chemistry on screen together and we completely believe their relationship 100%. They laugh together, they cry together, and most importantly, they look like they are having fun together as Eleanor and Lou, and we want them to fall in love every step of the way.

If you are looking for a biography that highlights a person's shortcomings, this simply isn't it. The portrayal "The Pride of the Yankees" gives to Lou Gehrig puts him on borderline sainthood. Maybe he really was that much of a good person, but we don't know enough about him to tell the difference. Showing this snow white portrayal doesn't exactly make for the most compelling cinematic moments, and we hate to say it, but we wish he punched someone in his youth or something, you know, just to sully his reputation a bit and make his story a little more interesting. We're really just kidding because it seems like Gehrig was a stand up guy who did right by those he loved. Though Gehrig started his life out very poor, the film doesn't convey or develop this struggle enough. However, building him up as such a genuinely good person means the eventual tragedy we know is coming is all the more impactful and emotionally moving. Man, sometimes life truly sucks. Despite a few slower moments early on, we still enjoyed the overall experience of "The Pride of the Yankees"  and were touched by this fitting tribute to an American sports legend.

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 92%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!
One year ago, we were watching: "Jaws"

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