With baseball season in full swing, now is a great time to check out “The Pride Of The Yankees” (1942, MGM, unrated, $15), one of Hollywood’s best movies about the Great American Pastime.
Former Wilkes-Barre resident Herman Mankiewicz (“Citizen Kane”) shared the scripting duties (with Jo Swerling) on this biopic about Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig (Gary Cooper), a hall-of-famer who played in 2130 consecutive games before contracting the degenerative nerve disease that now bears his name.
The film, which netted nearly a dozen Oscar nominations, traces the Iron Horse from his humble beginnings as the son of German immigrants. It’s only after Gehrig’s beloved mom falls ill that he finally signs with the Yankees to help pay her hospital bills.
Soon, Gehrig’s once-disapproving Mom is his biggest fan, at least until he meets a spectator (Teresa Wright) who calls him Tanglefoot from the stands. Gehrig meets the gal later on at a restaurant, they fall in love and soon marry.
“Pride of the Yankees,” which includes a wonderful supporting turn by Babe Ruth, tugs at the tear ducts after Gehrig begins to falter physically and learns he’s suffering from a fatal illness. There’s a heartbreaking scene in the locker room as Gehrig falls over trying to tie his shoelaces.
During his retirement speech before more than 60,000 fans, Gehrig famously proclaimed, “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” If that scene doesn’t get to you, you must be made of stone.