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THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES ($15) is very much the old style Hollywood biography- upbeat, uplifting and very much a finessed piece of entertainment. Those of you have become used to the cynical, sleazy tabloid like biographies of today might look upon THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES as Hollywood whitewash, but actually the movie is a whole lot more. This film was intended as an inspirational tale about a real American hero- something that the country needed in the WWII era. And what could be more inspirational than the story of a man who became the idol of millions, then faced the greatest of all adversaries with both bravery and dignity.

THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES recounts the life and career of Lou Gehrig (Gary Cooper) one of the greatest baseball players of all time. Gehrig was a recoded setting ballplayer for the New York Yankees whose lengthy career was actually cut tragically short, when sports hero developed Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (which became known as Lou Gehrig's disease). Although the film is now sixty years old, THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES remains a terrific piece of entertainment thanks to the wonderfully understated performance of Gary Cooper. Cooper's persona is a perfect match to the role- he brings a quiet humility and charm to the man who was quite arguably the greatest baseball player of his or any generation. Cooper has marvelous chemistry with his costar Teresa Wright, who absolutely sparkles with her performance as Gehrig's wife Eleanor. The cast of THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES also features legendary ballplayer Babe Ruth as himself, as well as, Walter Brennan, Dan Duryea, Elsa Janssen and Ludwig Stössel.

MGM Home Entertainment has made THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES available on DVD in a terrific looking full screen transfer that frames the movie in its proper 1.37:1 aspect ratio. The black and white film element used for the transfer does display some age related blemishes, but none of which are too bothersome. Image quality remains rather high for a movie that hasn't been painstakingly restored in the digital realm. Everything appears crisp and very nicely detailed. Rudolph Maté's black and white cinematography has that nice glossy appearance of a Hollywood "A" production of that period and is well served by the transfer. Blacks appear deep and velvety, while the whites are clean and crisp. Contrast is generally excellent and the picture produces a rich and varied grayscale. The grain structure is noticeable in a few places, but is never excessive. Clean dual layer authoring keep digital compression artifacts well concealed.

THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES comes with a rather average sounding Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack. There are decided limitations in the fidelity of the soundtrack, which clearly demonstrate that this movie is the product of the early 1940s. On occasion, the track can sound somewhat harsh and many sound effects come across as lightweight because there isn't any bass at all to give them required substance. Additionally, the music comes across as a bit thin and reedy. Background hiss is generally very mild, but can become occasionally noticeable. There is also a bit of surface noise here and there, but nothing too distracting. Dialogue is always completely understandable, which is definitely the most important thing for one's appreciation of this movie. A Spanish language track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles. The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features- there are absolutely no supplements provided on the DVD.

THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES is a thoroughly entertaining film from Hollywood's golden age. Gary Cooper and Teresa Wright's terrific performances really make this film biography shine. MGM Home Entertainment's DVD looks very good and is priced inexpensively, making the purchase of this classic film relatively painless.



The Pride of the Yankees (1943)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2002 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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