Biopic traces the life of Lou Gehrig, famous baseball player who played in 2130 consecutive games before falling at age 37 to ALS, a deadly nerve disease which now bears his name. Gehrig is followed from his childhood in New York until his famous 'Luckiest Man' speech at his farewell day in 1939. Written by
Jerry Milani <email@example.com>
Sportswriter, Sam Blake (played by Walter Brennan) was loosely based on writer Fred Lieb, who was one of Gehrig's closest friends. See more »
As Gehrig (Cooper) is doing his homework at Columbia, he writes with his right hand. While Gehrig batted and threw left-handed, like many lefties of the era (perhaps because of "correction" in school), he wrote with his right hand. See more »
People have to live their own lives. Nobody can live it for you. Nobody could have made a baseball player out of Uncle Otto, and nobody can make anything but a baseball player out of me.
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In today's era of greedy athletes and their employers, the story of Lou Gehrig seems almost quaint. Here's a young man who by all accounts was selfless, kind-hearted, and rather introverted. And, of course, it didn't hurt that he was also a very good baseball player too. Put him on a lineup card today and he might not be the same player. Up until a few years ago, Gehrig's record of 2,130 consecutive games played was a record, a record that many thought would stand forever. For 16 years he was in the lineup as the Yankees' first baseman, never asking out for any reason. That alone should show you how special a person Gehrig was.
This biography is pretty straightforward. Unlike many of its kind, it doesn't show its protagonist somehow succeeding against all odds. Gehrig didn't have an abusive mother, he wasn't beaten up by kids at school, he wasn't learning-disabled, he didn't have attention-deficit disorder, he didn't come from abject poverty. He was simply a son in a working-class, immigrant family, as many were during the early decades of this century. And that's why Gehrig is so special to so many people - he symbolises their own hopes.
Gary Cooper is aces as Gehrig, and Teresa Wright is wonderful as his wife, Eleanor. If there's anything imperfect about the movie, it's that it is...well, a little predictable. That's something biopics can't avoid, of course, so it's no big problem. But even if most of the film doesn't impress you, the final speech at Yankee Stadium - when Gehrig was suffering visibly from the disease that would eventually be named after him - will move you past tears. And even better, when Gehrig's done his brief speech, he walks offscreen. If that movie were written today, he'd play another game and hit a game-winning home run. It's this film's honesty and sincerity that win you over.
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