Mr. Deeds Goes to Yankee Stadium: Baseball Films in the Capra Tradition

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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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786417735
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/5/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 175
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Wes D. Gehring is a 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 32 film-related books, including award-winning biographies of James Dean, Carole Lombard, Steve McQueen, Robert Wise and Red Skelton.

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Table of Contents

Foreword 9
Foreword 11
Author's Notes and Acknowledgments 13
Preface: Populism as a Mirror of Our Best Self 15
Introduction: A Baseball and Populism Primer 21
First Inning Passing the Populist Legacy from Wil Rogers to Frank Capra 35
Second Inning The Pridee of the Yankees: Lou Gehrig 49
Third Inning The Stratton Story: Close Parallels to Gehrig's Pride 66
Fourth Inning Angels in the Outfield: A Populist Fantasy 78
Fifth Inning The Natural: A Populist Adaptation of a Literary Classic 90
Sixth Inning Bull Durham: A Sexy Packaging of Populism 104
Seventh Inning Field of Dreams: America's Favorite Baseball Film 115
Eighth Inning Frequency: An Unconventional Showcasing of Populist Baseball 126
Ninth Inning The Rookie: Back to Populist Biography with a Cinderella Story 135
Epilogue 146
Notes 153
Selected Filmography 163
Bibliography 165
Index 173
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2014

    ¿Who¿s who in America¿ (2012, 2013, 2014) author Wes Gehring¿s

    “Who’s who in America” (2012, 2013, 2014) author Wes Gehring’s “Mr. Deeds Goes to America: Baseball Films in the Capra Tradition” is included in baseball expert Ron Kaplan’s “501 Baseball Books Fans Must READ Before They Die.” Gehring’s book also boasts “Forwards” by “Boys of Summer” legend Carl Erskine, and former “Good Morning America” anchor Steve Bell. Erskine says, in part, “Wes Gehring’s book catches this (historical baseball) linkage in a fascinating way and lets younger generations live a little of the past while allowing my generation to live it again---read on.” Bell adds, in part, “What Wes Gehring puts in perspective for us in this delightful and insightful book is the essence of the (Capra feel good) Populist era and the mindset that helped mold our national character.” Thus, the book comes highly recommended.

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