Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Best Actor 1942: Gary Cooper in The Pride of the Yankees

Gary Cooper received his third Oscar nomination for portraying Lou Gehrig in The Pride of the Yankees.

The Pride of the Yankees tells the tragic story of baseball legend Lou Gehrig.

Gary Cooper is not one of the classic actors, that I feel particularly strong about. I unfortuantely find that he can be quite dull in roles, showing very little investment into his characters. This is not always true of his performances, I liked him in both High Noon, and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, but it is unfortunately true for many of his performances, including his performance here. Gary Cooper's performance consists mostly of very underacted emotions, and a small total range of emotions. Cooper usually has a rather standard smile through most of the film, but at times he is required to have a bit of a grimace, or a frown. There is not really all that much in between these three faces for Cooper.

Cooper has a similar body type to Gehrig but otherwise than that they have few similarities in appearance, and due to that as well Cooper's total lack of investment in the character, I really did not see him as Lou Gehrig in the film at any point, I did not even see him as a fictionalized Lou Gehrig. Now this also comes from the fact that Cooper seems to say nothing about who Lou Gehrig was. He was a nice guy, who was good at baseball, and than died from a disease. That is all that I got out of Cooper's portrayal, I just never saw for a moment, that he was trying anything more with Lou Gehrig than just to go through the motions of the plot.

His romantic scenes with Teresa Wright as Gehrig's wife are not particularly special. They both portray sweet people, as sweet people, but it still does not make for much of a romance. Any heavier emotions involved at all with the relationship are always given to Wright's character, giving Cooper even less to do. I do not hate this performance, I just cannot find very much to praise in it. The only thing I suppose I could praise, is his final speech which is well enough handled to be properly heartbreaking, but I think that comes more from the speech itself, and the situation than it really does from Cooper. I do not find this performance incredibly terrible, it certainly is harmless, but there just is not anything special in it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

1. Cagney.
2. Colman.
3. Woolley.
4. Pidgeon.
5. Cooper (You really hate him!).