The Stratton Story (1949)

106 mins | Drama | June 1949

Director:

Sam Wood

Producer:

Jack Cummings

Cinematographer:

Harold Rosson

Editor:

Ben Lewis

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, Paul Groesse

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was The Life of Monte Stratton . Stratton, who was born in Celeste, TX, on 21 May 1912 and died in Greenville, TX, on 29 Sep 1982, was a pitcher for the Chicago White Sox baseball team between 1934 and 1938. As depicted in the film, Stratton continued playing baseball after the amputation of his right leg following a hunting accident. He won eighteen games playing on an artificial leg. Stratton served as a technical advisor on the film, and coached James Stewart on big league pitching.
       In Feb 1948, HR announced that Roy Rowland had been assigned to direct the film. According to HR , Rowland shot footage of the White Sox in Chicago in Jun 1948, before principal production on the film began, but the extent of his contribution to the final film has not been determined. A Dec 1947 HR news item noted that Gregory Peck was considered for the title role. Van Johnson was announced for the role in Mar 1948, but Johnson, who had been severly injured in a 1943 automobile crash, withdrew from the cast after being advised by his physician that the role would be too strenuous for him. According to a Sep 1948 DV news item, Donna Reed was considered for the part played by June Allyson.
       While various contemporary news items stated that Ted Lyons, the manager of the White Sox in 1948, was set to play himself in the film, he was portrayed by Bruce Cowling. Several real-life baseball figures did portray themselves in the film, including Jimmy Dykes, a former manager ... More Less

The working title of this film was The Life of Monte Stratton . Stratton, who was born in Celeste, TX, on 21 May 1912 and died in Greenville, TX, on 29 Sep 1982, was a pitcher for the Chicago White Sox baseball team between 1934 and 1938. As depicted in the film, Stratton continued playing baseball after the amputation of his right leg following a hunting accident. He won eighteen games playing on an artificial leg. Stratton served as a technical advisor on the film, and coached James Stewart on big league pitching.
       In Feb 1948, HR announced that Roy Rowland had been assigned to direct the film. According to HR , Rowland shot footage of the White Sox in Chicago in Jun 1948, before principal production on the film began, but the extent of his contribution to the final film has not been determined. A Dec 1947 HR news item noted that Gregory Peck was considered for the title role. Van Johnson was announced for the role in Mar 1948, but Johnson, who had been severly injured in a 1943 automobile crash, withdrew from the cast after being advised by his physician that the role would be too strenuous for him. According to a Sep 1948 DV news item, Donna Reed was considered for the part played by June Allyson.
       While various contemporary news items stated that Ted Lyons, the manager of the White Sox in 1948, was set to play himself in the film, he was portrayed by Bruce Cowling. Several real-life baseball figures did portray themselves in the film, including Jimmy Dykes, a former manager of the White Sox, and Cleveland baseball player Gene Bearden. Studio publicity materials claim that the picture featured seventy-two real-life professional baseball players representing all but two of the major league teams. Agnes Moorehead and Robert Gist, who both appeared in the film, were married from 1953 to 1958.
       The baseball scenes were filmed at Wrigley Field in Chicago and Gilmore Field in Hollywood, and at American League fields in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Washington, D.C. The 21 Apr 1949 world premiere of The Stratton Story in Cleveland, OH, was held in honor of the Cleveland Indians' opening home game of the season. An M-G-M Silver Anniversary gala showing of the film was held in Los Angeles on 1 Jun 1949. During the spring of 1949, the film played in selected cities with American League teams before its general release in Jun 1949. The Stratton Story won an Academy Award for Best Motion Picture Story. In Feb 1950, the film was named the "most enjoyed motion picture of 1949" by Photoplay magazine, and received six of the magazine's Gold Medal Awards. The film was also named Picture of the Year by the Protestant Motion Picture Council and the Christian Herald . Modern sources indicate that the film grossed $3,700,000 in its initial release. Stewart and Allyson recreated their roles for a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story on 13 Feb 1950. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
7 May 1949.
---
Daily Variety
30 Sep 48
p. 3.
Daily Variety
1 Oct 48
p. 14.
Daily Variety
20 Apr 49
p. 3.
Daily Variety
10 Feb 50
p. 3.
Film Daily
20 Apr 49
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Dec 47
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Feb 48
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 48
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jun 48
p. 2
Hollywood Reporter
25 Oct 48
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Oct 48
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Dec 48
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Apr 49
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Apr 49
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
2 May 49
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
10 May 49
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
12 May 49
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Feb 1950.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Feb 1950.
---
Los Angeles Times
23 Dec 1947.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
23 Apr 49
p. 4581.
New York Times
13 May 49
p. 29.
Variety
20 Apr 49
p. 11.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Mary Lawrence
Alphonse Martel
Lee Tung Foo
Charles B. Smith
John "Red" Burger
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Sam Wood Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Contr to scr const
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Women's cost
MUSIC
Mus dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Montage seq
MAKEUP
Hair styles des
Makeup created by
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Prod mgr
Scr supv
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Life of Monte Stratton
Release Date:
June 1949
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Cleveland, OH: 21 April 1949
New York opening: 12 May 1949
Production Date:
late October--28 December 1948
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
15 March 1949
Copyright Number:
LP2196
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
106
Country:
United States
PCA No:
13643
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

During the early 1900s, young Texan Monty Stratton walks ten miles to pitch for the Wagner Wild Cats baseball team, then walks home and works on his farm for the rest of the day. Hobo ex-catcher Barney Wile spots Monty playing his usual flawless game, and convinces him that, with the correct training, he could be major league material. Barney moves in with Monty and trains him throughout the winter, after which he finagles a tryout with Chicago White Sox manager Jimmy Dykes. Although Jimmy is initially reluctant, Monty's amazing speed and accuracy impress him, and he lets the boy stay with the Sox. As Monty tries to learn his way around the big city, he is overjoyed when fellow teammate Eddie Dibson invites him on a double date. Monty realizes Eddie is a cad, however, when he tries to steal Monty's date, the lovely and sophisticated Ethel, and leaves Monty with the whole tab. Monty grabs Ethel and leaves, quickly winning her over with his sincerity and sweetness. The White Sox soon hire Monty, and after sitting on the bench for most of the first season, he is finally allowed to pitch, but only against the powerhouse Yankees. The rookie gets beaten so badly that he is sent back to the White Sox training ground in Omaha. There, he calls Ethel to tells her that he loves her, but wants a chance to prove himself professionally before marrying. After great success in Omaha, Monty is asked to join the majors again, at which point he and Ethel marry. Forhis first outing, he is asked to pitch against the Yankees again, but this time he masters his fear and ... +


During the early 1900s, young Texan Monty Stratton walks ten miles to pitch for the Wagner Wild Cats baseball team, then walks home and works on his farm for the rest of the day. Hobo ex-catcher Barney Wile spots Monty playing his usual flawless game, and convinces him that, with the correct training, he could be major league material. Barney moves in with Monty and trains him throughout the winter, after which he finagles a tryout with Chicago White Sox manager Jimmy Dykes. Although Jimmy is initially reluctant, Monty's amazing speed and accuracy impress him, and he lets the boy stay with the Sox. As Monty tries to learn his way around the big city, he is overjoyed when fellow teammate Eddie Dibson invites him on a double date. Monty realizes Eddie is a cad, however, when he tries to steal Monty's date, the lovely and sophisticated Ethel, and leaves Monty with the whole tab. Monty grabs Ethel and leaves, quickly winning her over with his sincerity and sweetness. The White Sox soon hire Monty, and after sitting on the bench for most of the first season, he is finally allowed to pitch, but only against the powerhouse Yankees. The rookie gets beaten so badly that he is sent back to the White Sox training ground in Omaha. There, he calls Ethel to tells her that he loves her, but wants a chance to prove himself professionally before marrying. After great success in Omaha, Monty is asked to join the majors again, at which point he and Ethel marry. Forhis first outing, he is asked to pitch against the Yankees again, but this time he masters his fear and wins the game. When the season ends, he brings Ethel to his family farm to meet his mother and stay for the winter. The next spring, he wins every game he plays, and, during one game, learns while on the mound that Ethel has given birth to a boy, Monty, Jr. Within months, he is part of the All-Stars team and breaking league records, but Ethel worries that he is spending too much time out of the house. Soon, however, he takes her to a nightclub and reveals that he has spent his extra time learning how to dance in order to please her, and they dance all night. Months later, Monty is hunting rabbits when he stumbles and his gun discharges into his leg. Ethel finds him, but not soon enough to rescue his infected leg, which has to be amputated. After the operation, Monty feels useless and despondent and refuses to try to recover. For months he sits, motionless and bitter, as Ethel waits patiently for him to re-gather his resolve. Finally, however, Monty witnesses Junior taking his first steps, and realizes that he has been indulging in self-pity. As he apologizes for his frustration, Ethel assures him that he is the same person inside. Soon, Monty decides to learn to walk on his false leg, and within months he is tossing a baseball with Ethel, who reveals that she is expecting another baby. When Barney visits that spring, they all attend the All-Stars game, and are shocked to discover that Monty has convinced the coach to let him pitch. Although he is frightened and has trouble running and catching bunts, he overcomes all obstacles and wins the game for the Southern League. Money then goes on to play, and win, many games during the rest of his career. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.