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Gary Cooper: American Life, American Legend (1989)

A retrospective on the life and career of actor Gary Cooper, includes memorial scenes from his best films. Narrated by Clint Eastwood.


1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview:
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Sandra Shaw ...
Herself (archive footage) (as Rocky Cooper)
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)


A retrospective on the life and career of actor Gary Cooper, includes memorial scenes from his best films. Narrated by Clint Eastwood.

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5 November 1989 (USA)  »

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Included in Warner Home Video's 2006 2-disc special edition DVD of Sergeant York (1941). See more »

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A look at the career of the Cooper/Capra everyman...
7 May 2009 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

GARY COOPER found his niche in westerns, never requiring a lot of talk but a lot of fast action and quick on the trigger in cowboy roles.

His likable and unpretentious manner of acting, combined with his natural good looks made him a natural for films, after attending college and thinking of a career as an artist. Once the public got a brief glimpse of him in WINGS, his career path was determined. He'd become an actor.

Described by the narrator as "one of the most romantic figures of the screen," we see a series of clips from his famous films, where he gradually attained stardom as the "everyman" in films like MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN and MEET JOHN DOE.

Off screen, he was hardly everyman. He and his wife and children lived in luxury, with a huge swimming pool as a playground and lots of skiing and target practice on shooting expeditions.

On the eve of WWII, Warner Bros. released SERGEANT YORK and Cooper's fine performance, playing his first real-life hero, won the Academy Award. While at Warners, his three-year romance with Patricia Neal is touched upon only briefly before we get to HIGH NOON and another award for Cooper's work.

The commentary by Clint Eastwood is not particularly illuminating and is delivered in the dry Eastwood manner and in a monotone. The story of Cooper's career concludes with an emotional James Stewart at the 1961 Oscars presenting Cooper with a special Oscar honoring his career while the actor was home terminally ill with cancer.

Summing up: Not really the most illuminating biography of the great star, nor does it overcome the notion that many have that Cooper was a star personality with a limited range of emotion. There's an almost wooden look to much of Cooper's underacting, in my opinion.

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