Video Picks Archive
Reviews by Matt Heffernan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This week my picks are The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (1998 - ) and The Pride of the Yankees (1942 - ).
Just in case you find yourself bored between (or during)
the games of the League Championship Series, I have two
exceptional baseball-themed films for you to pass the time.
First is a documentary that traveled around the country
in small theatres and is finally coming to home video.
Aviva Kempner's The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg
chronicles the career of the legendary Detroit Tiger who
was the first Jewish sports celebrity in America. Much of the
film concerns how Greenberg served as a role model for
Jewish boys and helped to drastically reduce anti-Semitism in
professional sports and the country at large. Along with rare film clips, it features
interviews with Michael Moriarty, Congressmen Carl and Sander Levin,
and the late Walter Matthau in one of his last appearances
But if you want to see one of the greatest baseball films of all time, look no further than the second pick. Gary Cooper has the role of a lifetime (quite literally) playing Lou Gehrig from his college days through his brilliant career with the New York Yankees, which was tragically cut short when he fell ill with ALS (now known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease" in America). Also in the film are Teresa Wright as Gehrig's wife, Eleanor, and Babe Ruth as himself. While most baseball films depend on the game for dramatic tension, The Pride of the Yankees finds plenty of drama in the human story, but the most famous scene in the film takes place in Yankee Stadium. It is, of course, the final scene which re-creates Gehrig's legendary retirement speech, in which Gehrig calls himself "the luckiest man on the face of the earth." If that doesn't move you, you are clearly inhuman.
Caveat emptor: The last edition of The Pride of the Yankees on both VHS and DVD was colorized for some reason that I can only imagine was evil. Thankfully, it is no longer being manufactured (hopefully to be replaced by a restored black&white version), but most of what's available for purchase or rental is colorized. Your best bet right now is to find either a much older video version or a black&white broadcast on TV. Or, just turn off the color on your set, because not only is the colorization offensive to the memory of the cinematographer (Rudolph Maté, who was nominated for an Oscar in the black&white category!) and the director (Sam Wood), but it is done so poorly that it gives the viewer a headache.
For more information, visit the Internet Movie Database:
The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (1998)
The Pride of the Yankees (1942)
Guide to Star Ratings
Capsule Reviews © 2001 Matt Heffernan