The Pride of the Yankees (1943)

128-129 mins | Biography | 5 March 1943

Full page view
HISTORY

Working titles of the film included The Lou Gehrig Story ; The Great American Hero ; The Life of Lou Gehrig ; and Lou Gehrig, An American Hero . Within the onscreen credits, prior to the names of the producer and director, a title card appears with the following statement: "Appreciation is expressed for the gracious assistance of Mrs. Lou Gehrig and for the cooperation of Mr. Ed Barrow and the New York Yankees, arranged by Christy Walsh." William Cameron Menzies' credit and name appear just below Sam Wood's, and is the last credit before the following written prologue: "This is the story of a hero of the peaceful paths of everyday life. It is the story of a gentle young man who in the full flower of great fame, was a lesson in simplicity and modesty to the youth of America. He faced death with the same valor and fortitude that is now being displayed by thousands of young Americans on far flung fields of battle. He left behind him a memory of courage and devotion that will ever be an inspiration to all men. This is the story of Lou Gehrig.--Damon Runyon."
       As depicted in the film, Lou Gehrig (19 Jun 1903--2 Jun 1941), was born in New York City of German-American parents. After a successful athletic career at Columbia University, Gehrig was hired by the New York Yankees. Gehrig played briefly with a farm club in Hartford, then went to the Yankees and played first base from 1923 to mid-1939. As some reviews of the film noted, Gehrig was left-handed, while Gary Cooper was right-handed. ... More Less

Working titles of the film included The Lou Gehrig Story ; The Great American Hero ; The Life of Lou Gehrig ; and Lou Gehrig, An American Hero . Within the onscreen credits, prior to the names of the producer and director, a title card appears with the following statement: "Appreciation is expressed for the gracious assistance of Mrs. Lou Gehrig and for the cooperation of Mr. Ed Barrow and the New York Yankees, arranged by Christy Walsh." William Cameron Menzies' credit and name appear just below Sam Wood's, and is the last credit before the following written prologue: "This is the story of a hero of the peaceful paths of everyday life. It is the story of a gentle young man who in the full flower of great fame, was a lesson in simplicity and modesty to the youth of America. He faced death with the same valor and fortitude that is now being displayed by thousands of young Americans on far flung fields of battle. He left behind him a memory of courage and devotion that will ever be an inspiration to all men. This is the story of Lou Gehrig.--Damon Runyon."
       As depicted in the film, Lou Gehrig (19 Jun 1903--2 Jun 1941), was born in New York City of German-American parents. After a successful athletic career at Columbia University, Gehrig was hired by the New York Yankees. Gehrig played briefly with a farm club in Hartford, then went to the Yankees and played first base from 1923 to mid-1939. As some reviews of the film noted, Gehrig was left-handed, while Gary Cooper was right-handed. The character "Sam Blake" is loosely based on Gehrig's longtime business manager and friend, Christy Walsh. Gehrig, who was known as "The Iron Horse," played for the Yankees until the effects of a delibilitating, fatal disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, forced his retirement. His record of 2,310 consecutive games remained unchallenged until 1995 when it was broken by Baltimore Orioles infielder Cal Ripkin, Jr. In addition to holding the record for consecutively played games, Gehrig was voted the most valuable American League player in 1936 and had thirty-three lifetime grand slam home runs, a record that remains intact [as of 1998].
       Gehrig appeared as himself in the 1938 Principal Production Rawhide (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.3638). The Western was Gehrig's only feature film, although he had been considered by producer Sol Lesser to star in Principal's "Tarzan" series. New York Yankees baseball teammates Babe Ruth, Bill Dickey, Bob Meusel and Mark Koenig, who appear as themselves in The Pride of the Yankees , constituted a group of players popularly known as "Murderers' Row." The film's last scene, in which Gehrig recites his famous farewell speech, took place before a game at Yankee Stadium on 4 Jul 1939. Acccording to contemporary sources, over 60,000 fans attended. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis became more commonly known as "Lou Gehrig's disease" following the ball player's death. No cure has yet been discovered for the disease. According to her obituary in LAT on 9 Mar 1984, Eleanor Gehrig spent many years lecturing, fundraising and working for a cure for the disease. The article also notes that, as the film implies, Mrs. Gehrig never told her husband that she knew his disease was fatal. In her autobiographical book, My Luke and I , Mrs. Gehrig, who never remarried, wrote, "I would not have traded two minutes of my life with that man for 40 years with another."
       According to a 30 Jun 1941 HR article, producer David O. Selznick had secured the rights to Lou Gehrig's story from Eleanor Gehrig. The same article noted that the title The Great American Hero had previously been registered by author Richard Vidmer, who was working on a Gehrig biography, and that Paramount Pictures had registered the title The Life of Lou Gehrig "some time ago." A 15 Jul 1941 news item announced that Samuel Goldwyn "won the rights to the Gehrig picture" and that Paul Gallico was to write the screenplay. A few days later, William Wyler was announced as the film's probable director, and Spencer Tracy and Gary Cooper, who were favored by Mrs. Gehrig, were being considered for the lead. A 25 Jul 1941 news item announced that Mrs. Gehrig was collaborating with Gallico on a first draft of the script; however, Mrs. Gehrig is not credited as a writer and her contribution probably was more in an advisory capacity, as acknowledged in the onscreen credits. Lester Cohen was announced as Gallico's collaboraor in late Sep 1941, but the extent of his contribution to the released film has not been determined. Also in Sep 1941, Sam Wood was named the film's director.
       HR news items add the following information about the production: In addition to Tracy and Cooper, other actors tested or considered for the lead were Eddie Albert, Brian Donlevy, Cary Grant, former middle-weight champion boxer Billy Soose and former New York Yankee pitcher Waite Hoyt. A 2 Oct 1941 news item noted that Goldwyn was planning to film the 1941 World Series with six different cameras to incorporate footage for the film. Leo Durocher was considered to play himself in the picture, but was not in the film, as an actor or a character. According to various HR news items, Wrigley Field in Los Angeles, CA was used for many of the baseball park scenes, and Babe Ruth missed several days of shooting at various intervals during the production, due to various illnesses.
       The film received many exceptionally positive reviews and was one of the top ten box-office films of the year. Daniel Mandell won an Academy Award for Best Film Editing for the picture, which was also nominated for awards in the following categories: Best Picture; Gary Cooper for Best Actor; Teresa Wright for Best Actress; Best Cinematography (black and white); Best Original Story; Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Music Score (drama or comedy); Best Art Direction; Best Sound Recording; and Best Special Effects. Cooper recreated his role for a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on 4 Oct 1943, co-starring with Virginia Bruce as Eleanor. A 1978 TV movie about Gehrig's life, entitled A Love Affair: The Eleanor and Lou Gehrig Story , starred Edward Herrmann as Gehrig, Blythe Danner as Eleanor and Patricia Neal as Gehrig's mother. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Aug 41
p. 340.
Box Office
18 Jul 1942.
---
Daily Variety
16 Jul 42
p. 3.
Film Daily
16 Jul 42
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jun 41
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jul 41
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jul 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jul 41
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Aug 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Sep 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Sep 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Sep 41
p. 1, 3.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Oct 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Oct 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Oct 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Feb 42
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Mar 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Apr 42
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Apr 41
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Apr 42
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jul 42
p. 3.
Look
28 Jul 1942.
---
Los Angeles Times
19 Aug 1942.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
18 Jul 42
p. 781.
New York Times
16 Jul 42
p. 23.
Variety
15 Jul 42
p. 9.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Elsa Janssen
and
and His Orchestra
Rebecca Bohanon
J. Pat Moriarty
Bernard Zanville
Dorothy Vaughn
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
WRITERS
Orig story [and contr to trmt]
Contr to dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
Spec photog eff
STAND INS
Long-shot baseball double for Gary Cooper
SOURCES
SONGS
"Always," music and lyrics by Irving Berlin.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Lou Gehrig Story
The Great American Hero
The Life of Lou Gehrig
Release Date:
5 March 1943
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 14 July 1942
Los Angeles opening: 18 August 1942
Production Date:
11 February--late April 1942
Copyright Claimant:
Samuel Goldwyn
Copyright Date:
15 July 1942
Copyright Number:
LP11486
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
128-129
Length(in feet):
11,529
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
8295
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In the 1910s, young Henry Lou Gehrig, the son of German immigrants, yearns to play baseball, but his mother, who is a cook at Columbia University, wants him to become an engineer. Years later, when Lou is enrolled at Columbia, he is popular with other students and excels in all sports, even though he must work as a waiter in his fraternity house. When sports writer Sam Blake observes Lou's excellence at baseball, he begins to write about him. One day, Sam goes to the fraternity to see if Lou is interested in playing ball for the New York Yankees. Because some of the other boys had just played a trick on him, Lou thinks that Sam is part of the ruse and throws him out. Later, when he learns that Sam is genuine, Lou is pleased by the offer, but sheepishly declines, saying that he is going to be an engineer. One night, Lou's mother becomes gravely ill and must go to the hospital. Worried that his mother will not get the care she needs in a charity ward, Lou secretly signs with the Yankees to earn enough money to keep her in a private hospital. While she recovers, Lou and his father let her believe that he has enrolled at Harvard, when he actually is playing for the Yankees' farm team in Hartford. Lou soon becomes known for his hard work and consistent performance on the diamond, and within a short time is recalled by the Yankees. Mrs. Gehrig is at first angry and disappointed when she learns the truth, because she wants Lou to take advantage of other opportunities that America offers, ... +


In the 1910s, young Henry Lou Gehrig, the son of German immigrants, yearns to play baseball, but his mother, who is a cook at Columbia University, wants him to become an engineer. Years later, when Lou is enrolled at Columbia, he is popular with other students and excels in all sports, even though he must work as a waiter in his fraternity house. When sports writer Sam Blake observes Lou's excellence at baseball, he begins to write about him. One day, Sam goes to the fraternity to see if Lou is interested in playing ball for the New York Yankees. Because some of the other boys had just played a trick on him, Lou thinks that Sam is part of the ruse and throws him out. Later, when he learns that Sam is genuine, Lou is pleased by the offer, but sheepishly declines, saying that he is going to be an engineer. One night, Lou's mother becomes gravely ill and must go to the hospital. Worried that his mother will not get the care she needs in a charity ward, Lou secretly signs with the Yankees to earn enough money to keep her in a private hospital. While she recovers, Lou and his father let her believe that he has enrolled at Harvard, when he actually is playing for the Yankees' farm team in Hartford. Lou soon becomes known for his hard work and consistent performance on the diamond, and within a short time is recalled by the Yankees. Mrs. Gehrig is at first angry and disappointed when she learns the truth, because she wants Lou to take advantage of other opportunities that America offers, but soon accepts her son's decision. The shy, but affable Lou eventually becomes the team's first baseman, and Sam, who is his strongest supporter, becomes his roommate on the road and tells rival sportswriter Hank Hannemann that Lou epitomizes what is best about baseball and America. In Chicago, Lou meets Eleanor Twitchell, the daughter of a wealthy hot dog manufacturer, and is smitten when she playfully dubs him "Tanglefoot" after he trips on some bats. When the team next travels to Chicago, Lou asks Eleanor out and soon the two fall in love. Despite Mrs. Gehrig's jealousy over not remaining Lou's "best girl," he proposes to Eleanor. Although at first Lou's mother tries to usurp Eleanor's position, Lou smooths things over and assures Eleanor that she is the manager of their team. As the years pass, the "Iron Horse," as the sports writers call Lou, remains happy in his career and marriage. In 1938, shortly after Lou is honored for playing in his 2,000th consecutive game, he begins to notice a strange weakness in his arms. His playing and coordination worsen, and by the 1939 season, his performance has become so poor that he is benched for the first time in his career. Lou goes for medical tests and learns that he must give up baseball, and when he asks "is it three strikes?" the doctor confirms Lou's fears. Lou does not want Eleanor to know that his illness is fatal, and although she guesses the truth, she maintains the pretense that he will recover. With his career over, Lou is honored at a special ceremony held at Yankee Stadium. In front of thousands of fans, and standing beside former teammates, Lou delivers a humble speech praising his family and colleagues. He ends by saying, "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." +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

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.