Plot: What’s it about?
Even since he was young child, Lou Gehrig knew he wanted to be a baseball player, just like the ones he watched on the field. In his youth, he lived in New York and while his neighborhood had some baseball games, he had trouble getting on the teams. But he broke down and gave the others his baseball card collection, which ensured his presence in the games. He was hesitant to give up his cards, especially his Babe Ruth rookie card, but he wanted to play so bad, he ended up handing them all over. He shows instant potential as a player, with a dynamic swing that packs some real power, but as his mother wants him to be an engineer, he focuses his attentions more on that, though his love for baseball remains. While attending Columbia University, Gehrig’s mother falls ill and when he is urged to sign with the Yankees, he decides the time has come to live his dream and as such, he agrees to sign up. His intentions are good however, as he needs the money to help his mother’s health issues. He soon becomes a smash success in the major leagues, but tragic events lie ahead of Gehrig, ones that will test him to no end…
In this era of strikes, inflated payrolls, and lackluster performances, its hard to imagine a baseball player as an American legend, but it didn’t always work that way, as men like Lou Gehrig were more than athletes, they were icons. The Pride of the Yankees tells the story of Gehrig’s rise to fame as a member of the Yankees, his career’s highlights, and of course, his tragic health problems and how he dealt with them. Yes, this film is one of those tearjerkers that pulls on the heartstrings, but as it is a true story after all, you can’t help but be moved by the events, especially as Gehrig starts to handle his illness. If it wasn’t based on a true story, it would be hard to believe some of the situations, but since it is historical fact, it remains effective. I also love the performances here, which are consistently excellent, with Gary Cooper, Teresa Wright, and Walter Brennan all in fine form, as well as some others. This movie is an easy recommendation to not just baseball fans, but anyone interested in a moving, powerful story about the human condition. I wish MGM had included some kind of supplements, but even in a bare bones release, the movie itself is too good to pass up, especially in its original black & white version.
As this movie centers on one character, it needed a dynamic lead and thankfully, Gary Cooper is able to deliver a superb performance. This role is not a simple one and has a wide range as the story unfolds, but Cooper never stumbles and handles things to near perfection. The emotion is played to effective ends, but remains realistic in texture, as Cooper never steps over the line, even for a second. This ensures the intended emotion comes through, but it seems believable, never played up more than the real life events. Cooper was known for his great efforts however, so it should have come as no surprise he was impressive here. Other films with Cooper include High Noon, Meet John Doe, Sergeant York, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Friendly Persuasion, and The General Died at Dawn. The cast also includes Teresa Wright (Shadow of a Doubt, Mrs. Miniver), Walter Brennan (Bad Day at Black Rock, My Darling Clementine), and one of baseball’s all time greats, Babe Ruth himself.
Video: How does it look?
The Pride of the Yankees is presented in a full frame transfer, as intended. Although most of the home video editions have been plagued by a colorized edition, this DVD sports the original black & white visuals, so fans should be quite pleased. In addition, they can be pleased by the effort MGM had put into this visual treatment, as this movie looks terrific and while it is over sixty years old, it doesn’t show here. The print does have some small nicks and such, but nothing even close to serious, which is simply excellent news. The contrast is smooth and well balanced also, so the black & white visuals shine in this presentation. I commend MGM for this effort in all respects, especially the decision to issue the original black & white version.
Audio: How does it sound?
The soundtrack here has some age related problems, but then again, it sounds solid enough for a movie that’s over six decades old. I heard some minor hiss, as well as some harshness, but nothing too serious, or any flaws that prove to be a distraction. As expected, the track is thin most of the time, but as I mentioned, this movie was made in 1942 and as such, we should cut it some slack in this department. The dialogue sounds good throughout, with no real errors to report, as vocals were clear at all times. This disc also includes a Spanish language option, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc contains no bonus materials.