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The Pride of the Yankees (1942)

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Cooper batting right-handed

Whereas Lou Gehrig was a famous left-handed batter, Gary Cooper was neither a good batter nor was he left-handed. In order to shoot realistic scenes of Cooper batting, instead of trying to teach him to bat left-handed, the editors simply flipped the film strip (and the scene) over for production (at right) and reversed it back again when the scenes were edited together (below).

Gehrig batting left-handed

This meant that Cooper wore a uniform with the Yankee logo reversed and on the opposite side of his shirt, batted right-handed, and then ran from home plate directly to third base on his way around the bases (above). When the film was flipped over in the final version, the game appeared to go on naturally, with Gehrig batting left-handed and then taking off to first base (at left).

This creative solution is usually credited to William Cameron Menzies, director Sam Wood's production designer and right-hand man, although the editing itself was undertaken by Daniel Mandell who won an Academy Award for his efforts.

More Memorable Quotations:

  • "Let me tell you about heroes, Hank. I've covered a lot of 'em and I'm saying Gehrig is the best of 'em. No front page scandals, no daffy excitements, no horn-piping in the spotlight . . . but a guy who does his job and nothing else. He lives for his job. He gets a lot of fun out of it -- and 50 million other people get a lot of fun out of him; watching him do something better than anyone else ever did it before." --Sam Blake.
  • "There isn't anything you can't do if you try hard enough." --Lou.
  • "Lou Gehrig, I think I could learn to like you!" --Eleanor.
  • "Now don't get hysterical!" --Sam.
    "I'm not hysterical. I'm perfectly controlled." --Eleanor.
  • "If I had my way, Darling, I'd give you the Yankee Stadium." --Eleanor.
  • "I'm a man who likes to know his batting average." --Lou.
  • "Is it three strikes, Doc?" --Lou.
  • "Doc, I've learned one thing. All the arguing in the world can't change the decision of the umpire." --Lou.
Lou and Eleanor wrestle

Lou and Eleanor wrestle playfully after he returns from playing in his 2000th game, having received neither an automobile nor a yacht, but rather a horseshoe of roses from the fans to commemorate the occasion. In this scene, Gehrig first notices the symptoms of his fatal illness (ALS -- which would later come to be known as Lou Gehrig's disease), and the heretofore light romance begins to take a serious turn.

Interestingly, the juxtaposition of light romance and tragedy in THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES proved so successful with critics and audiences that director Sam Wood used a very similar story-telling approach seven years later when he directed yet another film about a famous baseball player struck down in his prime -- THE STRATTON STORY (1949) with Jimmy Stewart and June Allyson.

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Last updated: March 10, 2011.
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