I currently live in a city that has no Major League Baseball, which (next to grand opera) is my favorite spectator event.
So while the World Series has been underway, I’ve sublimated my baseball hunger by purchasing a DVD of PRIDE OF THE YANKEES for three dollars at BigLots! and giving it a look.
Despite the fact that I admire the director (Sam Wood), the production designer (William Cameron Menzies) and the boy-girl star team (Gary Cooper & Teresa Wright), I had never seen the movie. Yet, I always heard it referred to as a classic. But frankly, three-quarters of it was just plain hokum to me. I wanted baseball, not cornball. Visually it had great texture from those characteristic diagonals of Menzies’ production design. Sam Wood (although mainly known as the director of Marx Brothers movies) did some very stylish films in his career, especially a 1947 Victorian thriller called IVY (criminally unavailable on DVD). And he creates authentic moments between the two stars. But, lordy, those Central Casting::Ellis Island accents of the Gehrig family…and the r-e-p-e-a-t-e-d interpolation of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” in the score tempted me more than once to hit the Eject button.
Everything pulled together when Lou Gehrig (Cooper) starts getting sick. At last, the candy-assed script took a turn into drama, delivering up through the astonishingly poetic final shot.
But despite the high production values and earnest, intelligent contributions to this work, I’d prefer to relive viewing the seventh inning of the last game of the 1991 World Series: a sacred dance to the Zen of Testosterone.
Ain’t nothin’ like the real thing, baby.
Doug of PostModern Joan
P.S. — Speaking of things manly, PRIDE OF THE YANKEES director Sam Wood was very proud (and very verbal…) of the fact he had THREE testicles.