Pride of the Yankees
When people say, "They don't make them like they used to," Pride of the Yankees is just the kind of film they're wistfully remembering. Nominated for 11 Academy awards (winning one for film editing), this handsome biographical drama of baseball legend Lou Gehrig is one of the most finely crafted films ever to emerge from Hollywood. Gary Cooper, that great oak of an American actor, progresses from the awkward and naively shy rookie to the seasoned "Iron Horse" first baseman of the New York Yankees without losing his idealism or modesty. Teresa Wright captures the same slice of Americana with her mixture of girl-next-door sweetness and urban sophistication as his supportive wife, Eleanor. After he's diagnosed with a degenerative neurological disease (known today simply as Lou Gehrig's disease), Cooper delivers Gehrig's famous retirement speech from the mound of Yankee Stadium with the courage and spirit of a winner: "I consider myself to be the luckiest man on the face of the earth." One of the finest sports films ever made, Pride is about more than simply baseball: Gehrig, the hard-working, uncommonly talented son of immigrant parents, is the living embodiment of the American Dream. Walter Brennan and Dan Duryea costar as a Greek chorus of sportswriters, and real-life Yankees Bill Dickey, Mark Koenig, Bob Meusel, and Babe Ruth appear as themselves.
When egghead Scotty Smalls moves to town just before the summer vacation of 1962, his first priority is to make friends. He heads to the nearby sandlot only to humiliate himself before the local kids, but star player Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez befriends the awkward boy, teaches him the basics of baseball, and welcomes him to the team. It's a summer filled with camaraderie and fun until Smalls hits his first home run. Problem is, Smalls's home run sends his stepfather's "Babe Ruth" autographed baseball into a neighboring yard that's patrolled by a snarling, slobbering monster called "The Beast." Creativity reigns and hilarity ensues when the boys risk everything to retrieve the ball. A final heroic encounter with "The Beast" and his owner yields some very surprising results.