The Pride of the Yankees (1942) Who knows — if Lou Gehrig played baseball today, especially for the Yankees, we might know all sorts of unsavory things about Iron Man Lou. Then again, nah. By all accounts — and certainly by the account of this stirring biography starring Gary Cooper — Lou was a gentleman, a trusted teammate and a loyal husband. It’s hard to believe that in a single year after Gehrig’s death from ALS the Hollywood Dream Factory could fashion such a well-crafted tribute to the fallen star. But Paul Gallico’s story is heroic without being cloying, and Damon Runyan’s written prologue thoughtfully links Gehrig’s bravery in the face of death to the heroism of U.S. soldiers just beginning the long slog of World War II. Rooting for the Yankees in the days of Gehrig and Babe Ruth may have been like rooting for General Motors (these days you’d replace GM with Microsoft), but the Big Pinstriped Machine played with uncommon heart and sheer love of a game that, at the time, seemed to transcend the foregone conclusion that the American League Pennant had a permanent home above the House that Ruth Built. The Pride of the Yankees, with Ruth playing himself in honor of his teammate and sometime rival, captures that moment with unflinching sentiment, without cynicism, without apology.
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