Mr. Deeds Goes to Yankee Stadium

Baseball Films in the Capra Tradition


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SKU: 9780786417735 Categories: , , ,

About the Book

Celebrated film director Frank Capra was a central architect of the “feel good” movie genre now known as populism, which celebrates people, families, second chances, and other traditional American icons such as small town or pastoral life and baseball. Capra developed his own brand of populism by interweaving traditional values of the genre with a younger, more vulnerable hero starting with Mr. Deeds Goes to Town in 1936. The result, Capraesque populism, has had a significant influence on American pop culture in general and forms a small but important subgenre of baseball movie.
This book examines eight of these Capraesque baseball films, starting with the all-important Pride of the Yankees (1942), which one admiring critic has called “Mr. Deeds Goes to Yankee Stadium.” An introduction provides an overview of baseball and populism. Individual chapters are devoted to the populist legacy from Will Rogers (Capra’s mentor) to Capra, The Pride of the Yankees, The Stratton Story, Angels in the Outfield, The Natural, Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, Frequency and The Rookie.

About the Author(s)

Wes D. Gehring is a distinguished professor of film at Ball State University and associate media editor for USA Today magazine, for which he also writes the column “Reel World.” He is the author of 40 film books, including biographies of James Dean, Carole Lombard, Steve McQueen, Robert Wise, Red Skelton and Charlie Chaplin.

Bibliographic Details

Wes D. Gehring
Forewords by Carl Erskine ; and Steve Bell
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 175
Bibliographic Info: photos, notes, filmography, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2004
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1773-5
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8350-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Forewords      9

Author’s Notes and Acknowledgments       13

Preface: Populism as a Mirror of Our Best Self      15

Introduction: A Baseball and Populism Primer      21

1 Passing the Populist Legacy from Will Rogers to Frank Capra      35

2 The Pride of the Yankees: Lou Gehrig      49

3 The Stratton Story: Close Parallels to Gehrig’s Pride      66

4 Angels in the Outfield: A Populist Fantasy      78

5 The Natural: A Populist Adaptation of a Literary Classic      90

6 Bull Durham: A Sexy Packaging of Populism      104

7 Field of Dreams:America’s Favorite Baseball Film      115

8 Frequency: An Unconventional Showcasing of Populist Baseball      126

9 The Rookie: Back to Populist Biography with a Cinderella Story      135

Epilogue      146

Notes      153

Selected Filmography      163

Bibliography      165

Index      173

Book Reviews & Awards

“Gehring remains supreme in film comedy scholarship”—Choice.