Stratton Story, The (1949): Sam Wood’s Inspirational Biopic of Chicago White Sox Pitcher, Starring Jimmy Stewart and June Allyson

I this simple, inspirational biopic.Jimmy Stewart is well cast as Monty Stratton, the famous Chicago White Sox pitcher, who loses a leg in an accident just as his career is on the rise, and whose triumph over despair and disability leads him to pitch again.

Our Grade: B (***1/2 out of *****)

The narrative structure very much follows the pattern of the rise and fall and rise again of a famous genius.

Texas farm boy Monty Stratton (Stewart) demonstrates a knack for pitching a baseball. With the help of washed-up, catcher-turned-scout Barney Wile (Morgan), he manages to get a tryout with the Chicago White Sox during in California. Determined, and against doubts from his mother (Moorehead), he declares: I just have to give it a try.” And indeed, he is given a contract.

During training, he meets Ethel (Allyson) and they fall in love. Soon they part, when he has to go to Chicago; later on, he proposes marriage.

Stratton returns to Chicago with his newlywed bride, and by the end of the season, they’re expecting a child.  Notified that he has a son, he throws a wild pitch and is taken out of the game.

His career progresses and he’s voted an all-star in the American League. In the off-season of 1938, Stratton accidentally shoots himself in his leg while hunting  in Texas. the need for amputation throws him into depression, but with the support of his wife and a wooden leg, Stratton learns to walk with his baby boy!

He works hard and starts pitching again, making a successful comeback in 1946.

Other actors, such as Ronald Reagan and Van Johnson, coveted the role, but it’s hard to imagine any other but Stewart playing it. was also announced at one stage to play the lead.

Stewart signed on for the role, when he realized the film would be inspiration to the real-life injured WWII GIs. Six-decades later, the film is still inspirational, and an honorable model for sports biopictures.

Awarded an Oscar for Best Motion Picture story, The Stratton Story is directed in earnest by Sam Wood (who made earlier the popular, Oscar-winning baseball movie “Pride of the Yankees” with Gary Cooper).

The supporting cast includes June Allyson, Agnes Moorehead, Frank Morgan and a bunch of real-life ballplayers.

Screen Team:

The pairing of Stewart and Allyson as husband-and-wife was so compelling and believable that they appeared together again in two more movies, both very popular, “The Glenn Miller Story” (1954) and “Strategic Air Command” (1955).

Reportedly, Stratton himself liked the film, noting “Jimmy Stewart did a great job of playing me, in a picture which I figure was about as true to life as they could make it.”

The Stratton Story was a commercial hit, earning about 4.5 million at the global box-office, against a budget of $1.7 million.

Oscar Context:

The movie won the Best Writing-Motion Picture Osca


James Stewart as Monty Stratton
June Allyson as Ethel
Frank Morgan as Barney Wile
Agnes Moorehead as Ma Stratton
Bill Williams as Eddie Dibson
Bruce Cowling as Ted Lyons
Cliff Clark as Josh Higgins
Mary Lawrence as Dot
Dean White as Luke Appling
Robert Gist as Earnie