Ugh…the Yankees. I think I speak for most of America when I say I’m so tired of that team. I know Sileo grew up in the East so it’s understandable why he loves the Bronx Bombers but everyone else loves seeing them lose. I have to be fair though; they have had plenty of great players. One that is sometimes overlooked is the legendary Lou Gehrig.
I went into “The Pride of the Yankees” expecting a sappy, uplifting film about a Yankee hero…and I was right. Made in the 1940s, this movie follows the classic black and white formula. Everything is a little cheesy with a hero that’s a bit awkward but somehow that cheery music and overacting keeps you entertained long enough. Now unlike more recent biographies such as “42” and “Race,” this one I assume is mostly incorrect as it tries to pull at your heartstrings.
In the film we see Lou Gehrig grow from a young boy into the Yankee legend he is known for. He fits the perfect archetype of an American role model as Gehrig never illustrates much of an ego and, for the most part, tries to stay out of the limelight. In fact sportswriter Sam Blake consistently drives this point home. While clearly trying too hard at points, I have heard that the Iron Horse was more of a private player.
The other characters, on the other hand, are a bit much starting with his mother. This woman is the most stereotypical, overbearing mother you could think of. She has all these plans for Lou and can’t understand why he chose baseball even though he is spectacular at it. His mom even has some problems with Gehrig’s wife. She always seems to have an issue with something but her “love” for her son is always the driving force. Man this movie is sappy…
Outside of Lou’s mother, his bride Eleanor creates a sweet love story that becomes old after a while. It seems like they never have problems and I think every married person can tell you that never happens. Plus her laugh is super annoying. However I did like some of Gehrig’s Yankee teammates including, in the flesh, Babe Ruth. While not having to flex his acting muscles too much, it was pretty surreal seeing The Bambino on the silver screen. And I didn’t even realize that the guy playing Bill Dickey was…Bill Dickey.
Yet for all of its issues, “The Pride of the Yankees” keeps you watching. I mean it’s very predictable as well as cheesy but Lou is easy to root for. And even though I’ve heard his last speech before, the final minutes of the film are a bit emotional. Although the pace dragged at plenty of points, the ending is pretty fitting.
When it’s all said and done, this movie is exactly what you expect. It’s a typical mid-twentieth century film that loosely follows the life of a legendary ballplayer. Yankee hating aside, I believe everyone has a soft spot for Lou Gehrig and it was nice to get somewhat of a glimpse of how he lived. While as sappy as I expected, “The Pride of the Yankees” is amusing enough even for all of us.