FILMS THAT ARE WORTH LOOKING
FILMS THAT BABE RUTH APPEARED IN
BASEBALL FILMS A VERY MIXED BAG
FEB2014: THE 130th ARTICLE FOR BASEBALL GURU
AT LAST, A PERSONAL LIST OF THE BEST OF THE FILMS ON BASEBALL
1994: Director: Ron Shelton: Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Wuhl, Lolita Davidovich:
You'd be hard pressed to see a better depiction of a baseball great than this one. The film was adapted from baseball writer Al Stumps biography that Cobb invited him to do on his life story. Stump spent months in Cobbs house and ended up with a whitewashed, dubious bio that was dictated to him.
The film was taken from Stumps book that he wrote afterwards that details the period he spent as a guest of Cobb. And what a period it was. What we have here is a drunken Cobb lashing out and firing his help left and right and at Wuhl as well. He also managed to rip apart blacks, Jews, women, liberal politicians, and in some cases fellow ballplayers. Wuhl Gives us a vivid account of a horrifying, death defying car ride that Cobb took him on. At films end we have a picture of a lonely, forgotten man with no friends and nobody attending his funeral.
It's a harrowing look at a baseball legend. Nothing is spared.
The baseball scenes showing Cobbs period as a player are the best I've seen on the screen.
BEAT THE DRUMS SOFTLY:
1973: Director: John A. Hancock: Cast: Michael Moriarty, Robert De Niro, Vincent Gardenia, Phil Foster, Heather McRae, Danny Aiello: Book: Mark Harris:
Star pitcher befriends a not very talented and slow witted catcher. Early on the catcher is diagnosed with a quick acting cancer and the pitcher does everything he can to keep it from the team and the manager.
When they do find out, the team comes together and starts to win. The film highlights not only the game of baseball but also the human element and how it reacts to a situation that can't be remedied.
Deniro, in one of his early roles is terrific as the dying catcher and Moriarity is wonderful as a Tom Seaver like pitcher. The actors for the most part can play baseball and their scenes on the field are not embarrassing!
BINGO LONG AND THE TRAVELING ALL STARS AND MOTOR KINGS:
1976: Director: John Bodham: Cast: Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones, Roger Pryor:
Probably holds the record for the longest title for any baseball film. Besides that it's one of the best as well.
A look at baseball during it's segregated days and it doesn't pull any punches. Baseball is shown here as promulgating the racist sensibility that was around during those days .nobody is spared!
Having no chance to get into the Major Leagues during that period, a group of black ball players form a team of their own and over time challenge the best Negro teams around. In a winner take all game Bingo Long win's. The film ends with the realization that the Negro Leagues are about to end because segregation is over in the Majors and blacks are being recruited into white baseball. The depiction of that baseball period seems authentic.
1988: Director: Ron Shelton: Cast: Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Robert Wuhl, Max Pantinkin:
Ron Skelton and Robert Wuhl worked together in another fine Baseball film (Cobb) that we reviewed up above.
Durham is one of the best films around that deals with life in the Minor Leagues.
A former so so Major League catcher is brought to the Minor League Durham club to prepare the players for Major League play. While there he meets a young woman (Susan Sarandon) who feels it's her duty to initiate the rookies sexually when they arrive. Her latest project is an enormously talented Pitcher (Tim Robbins) who hasn't been able to harness those talents. The catcher (Kevin Costner) takes on Robbins as well and get's him into the Major's. Along the way Sarandan and Costner fall in love. In real life that happened as well to Sarandon and Robbins.
As was the case in Beat the Drums the major roles starred players who knew how to play the game.
FIELD OF DREAMS:
1989: Director: Phil Alden Robinson: Cast: Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, Amy Madigan, Ray Liotta, Burt Lancaster:
A perfect blend of fantasy and drama works very well in this adaptation of William Kinsella's best selling novel.
A farmer hears a voice telling him, "If you build it he will come." He goes ahead and builds a baseball field on his property and is ridiculed by everyone. Eventually Shoeless Joe Jackson comes to play on the field and he brings others with him. At films end a long procession of cars are seen heading to the "Field of Dreams" to watch early baseball greats play in a game. Would it were so in real life.
EIGHT MEN OUT:
1988: Director: John Sayles: Cast: John Sayles, John Cusack, Charlie Sheen, Bill Irwin, Christopher Lloyd:
The fix is on and it was awful for baseball but it made for a terrific film. John Sayles not only directed but starred in it as well.
We're all familiar with the Black Sox scandal of 1919 but prior to that there were several fixes in the game. This one gets most of the attention because of several reasons. Some of the biggest stars in the game were involved, Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver, Ed Cicotte. MLB decided to hire Kennesaw Mountain Landis as Commissioner to clean up the mess. However Landis was no fountain of justice. He looked away at other fixes that came along and was responsible for keeping blacks out of the game until he died in 1947. On another note he refused to let women enter the game as well.
Eight Men Out pretty much keeps true to what happened and does it with a minimum of sensationalism and an intelligent script.
It does include though the, "TELL ME IT AINT SO, JOE" scene which never happened.
LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN:
1982: Director: Penny Marshall (yes that Penny Marshall): Cast: Tom Hanks, Gena Davis, Rosie O'Donnell, Madonna, Lori Petty, Jon Lovitz, David Straithorn, Bill Pullman, Gary Marshall (Yes Penny Marshall's brother).
During World War Two Major League baseball was depleted, The majority of players were in the services and all the teams fielded inferior players game after game.
Cubs owner Phil Wrigley came up with a plan to try to make up for that. He created a league that featured women players. It was moderately successful.
League of Their Own takes a look at that period and comes up with a gem of a film. Witty, informative and highlighted by some wonderful performances, it was a big hit in the box office. Like most of the films featured here the stars didn't make shabby players and performed well in the field. There are several different stories that weave in and out of the plot. All of them are interesting but the highlight is the films look at that whole period which hopefully will not come around again.
Geena Davis seemed highlighted for a gigantic career after this but it never happened She became interested in other areas and she will do an occasional play, her film career is now on hold.
2010: Director: Gregory O.Lanesbury: Cast: Ray Liotta, Rory Culkin, Trevor Morgan:
Chasing 3,OOO came out as an independent film in 2010 without any hoopla, practically no promotion effort, and without any major stars. It had no budget to speak of and as of now has made a modest profit. The film has however attained a "SLEEPER" status. It is a staple on the late night 12 o'clock movie circuit. It really is a wonderful little classic dealing with dedication to the game, the love between brothers, and a tribute to Roberto Clemente.
The storyline is a simple one. Two brothers who are Roberto Clemente fans are determined to see him get his 3,000th hit. One of the brothers has muscular Duystrophy which makes the trip a difficult one. Along the way they encounter several people and have some diverse adventures.
Wont give away the ending so you'll just have to see it for yourself. That wont be easy but it's worth a look.
"Put me in Coach, I'm ready to play today"
COBB BULL DURHAM FIELD OF 8 MEN OUT LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN CHASING 3,OOO