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Gary Cooper as Alvin York: 6 Quotes About Iconic Role

Image: Gary Cooper as Alvin York: 6 Quotes About Iconic Role
(warner bros/sgtyork.org)

By    |   Wednesday, 08 Apr 2015 04:49 PM

Playing the title character in "Sergeant York" won Gary Cooper his first Oscar and critical acclaim. The story of real-life pacifist turned sniper and WWI hero Alvin York sparked a few emotions and many political debates.

Here are six quotes about Gary Cooper and the Alvin York role.

1. "Shucks, I've been in this business sixteen years and sometimes dreamed I might get one of these things. That's all I can say! Funny, when I was dreaming, I always made a good speech."
Gary Cooper, in this Oscar acceptance speech. It was considered plain-spoken and typical of the actor's presentation. He was likely very shocked to have received the honor as he left the statue behind as he and Jimmy Stewart left the stage.

2. "This uniform ain't for sale."
– Alvin York, in response to producer Jesse Lasky's proposal to make "Sergeant York"

According to IMDb, It took several tries for York to agree to the movie and he only did so under three conditions:  His share of the profits was donated to a Bible school; the actress who portrayed his wife was a nonsmoker; and Gary Cooper who play the starring role.

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Cooper initially declined the role for fear of not doing the living legend justice, but accepted after York made a personal appeal to the actor.

3. "Sergeant York won me an Academy Award, but that's not why it's my favorite film. I liked the role because of the background of the picture, and because I was portraying a good, sound American character."
Gary Cooper

In an interview recounted by Gary Cooper biographer Jeffrey Meyers, Cooper first described what he had in common with Alvin York. They both grew up in the mountains (York in Tennessee, Cooper in Montana) and learned to shoot and ride horses. But this quote summarizes his admiration of York very well, which is that Cooper considered him a hero and a strong character. 

4. "In Sergeant York the screen has spoken for national defense. Not in propaganda, but in theater.”
Variety review, according to The Knoxville Focus

Variety described "Sergeant York" as "film biography at its best."
Reflecting on the movie theme, which was often accused of being propaganda, it considered the work a means of communicating the issues of war.

5. "The suggestion of deliberate propaganda is readily detected here; the performance of Gary Cooper in the title role holds the picture together magnificently and even the most unfavorable touches are made palatable because of him."
Bosley Crowther, The New York Times

6. "He's a good shot."
Alvin York, on his impression of Gary Cooper after meeting the actor at his Hollywood home, according to David D. Lee, author of "Sergeant York: An American Hero" 

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Playing the title character in "Sergeant York" won Gary Cooper his first Oscar and critical acclaim. The story of real-life pacifist turned sniper and WWI hero Alvin York sparked a few emotions and many political debates. Here are six quotes about Gary Cooper and the Alvin York role.
gary cooper, role, sergeant, alvin york
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2015-49-08
Wednesday, 08 Apr 2015 04:49 PM
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