Classic Movie Reviews

The Pride of the Yankees

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 ( May 1901 -- May 1963 )  
Frank James Cooper (his pre-Hollywood name) was born in Helena, Montana, to an English immigrant couple. His father became a lawyer in the U. S. and then a judge. Thinking Cooper and his brother could not get a proper education in Montana, his mother sent the boys to attend school in England from 1910 to 1913. When World War I began she brought them back to the U. S. and they attended Bozeman High School. Cooper later attended Grinnell College in Iowa but didn't stay to graduate. When he tried out for the college drama club, he was turned down. In 1924 the family moved to Los Angeles and Cooper failed as an electric sign salesman before finding work as a movie extra in 1925. In 1926 he got a role that put him into the film credits and then a contract with Paramount Pictures. A casting director advised him to change his name. (Gary, Indiana, was the casting director's hometown.) Throughout his career he was known to friends and Hollywood associates as "Coop." He reached star status in his first talkie, The Virginian in 1929. In 1930 he played a French Foreign Legionnaire in Morocco. He created the lead role in A Farewell to Arms (1932), adapted from a popular novel by his good friend Ernest Hemmingway. That film has been remade more than once since then. In 1936 it was Mr. Deeds Goes to Town and he was David O. Selznick's first choice to play Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind. He rejected the offer, predicting the film would be the biggest flop in Hollywood history. In 1942 he earned his first Best Actor Oscar as WWI hero Alvin York in Sergeant York and that year made Meet John Doe. The touching story of baseball great Lou Gehrig, who gave his name to ALS, the disease that killed him, was presented in The Pride of the Yankees (1942). Appearing in over 100 films, Cooper was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar five times and won it twice, for Sergeant York and for High Noon (1952). In 1966 he was posthumously inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was named to the American Film Institute's 100 Years - 100 Stars list. He died of cancer in Los Angeles at age 62.


          "Today, I consider myself the luckiest man
                         on the face of the Earth."

    Gary Cooper is completely credible as Lou Gehrig, the Yankee's Hall of Famer, whose tragic death from ALS gave his name to "Lou Gehrig's Disease." This unusually honest film biography features strong performances in support by Teresa Wright, Walter Brennan, Dan Duryea and others, with a cameo by Babe Ruth. The movie is worthy of the man it portrays. Received an Oscar for Film Editing.


1942, Directed by Sam Wood

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