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Looking back at “Eight Men Out”

Sep 9, 2013, 9:16 AM EDT

Eight Men Out

Christian Red of the New York Daily News has a fantastic in-depth remembrance of John Sayles’ “Eight Men Out,” which came out 25 years ago last week.

He talks to some of the stars, primarily about the making of the movie, and we learn a lot of neat nuggets about the oh-so-wonderful film. Stuff like D.B. Sweeney having to learn to hit left-handed. Charlie Sheen realizing one day that, oh, he wasn’t the star. But how, despite that, he worked hard and helped draw extras to the set when the lowish-budget movie needed to fill a ballpark. There’s also a good second-hand story from Gordon Clapp about how the guy he played — White Sox catcher Ray Schalk — wasn’t exactly happy when Eliot Asinof, the author of the book “Eight Men Out,” tried to interview him back in the 60s. It’s loaded with great stuff.

There is some effort taken to compare the Black Sox Scandal with the Biogenesis scandal, but neither Red nor his subjects are terribly taken with the idea that PEDs are anywhere near as bad as throwing the World Series for money, even if the PED stuff is regrettable. That talk is both measured and, more importantly, doesn’t take away from a great story about a cool movie.

Now: do one about “Matewan,” which is Sayles’ best movie in my view and a personal top-5.

  1. yahmule - Sep 9, 2013 at 9:51 AM

    Probably my favorite baseball movie.

    • djpostl - Sep 9, 2013 at 3:38 PM

      Long Gone. Best baseball flick that most people never saw.

      • forsch31 - Sep 11, 2013 at 12:54 AM

        Love Long Gone. My dad and I used to watch that movie every year. The KKK scene is the best part. “Batting practice!”

  2. icanspeel - Sep 9, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    Love the movie. Was interesting to read how it all came about. Especially Charlie Sheen’s role considering it seemed more important behind the scenes than in the actual movie.

  3. Old Gator - Sep 9, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    Meh. If you think Matewan was the best film made by the same guy who made Alligator, you need to go take a film appreciation course at the local community college before presuming to comment on cinema again. Some fat guy with glasses swimming across a polluted river stacks up against having Dean Jagger and his limousine pounded to a pulp….how?

    • voteforno6 - Sep 9, 2013 at 12:03 PM

      I don’t know…Lone Star is a fantastic film, and Sunshine State is really good as well.

      • Old Gator - Sep 9, 2013 at 12:22 PM

        Reload your page and see if you can detect the sarcasm font. I love Lone Star but really, if I had to pick a favorite Sayles film (aside from the Springsteen videos, I mean) – it would still have to be Brother from Another Planet. It was great to see Joe Morton show up again as the army commander in Lone Star.

      • forsch31 - Sep 11, 2013 at 12:57 AM

        Secret of Roan Inish is one of my favorite films. Seriously, in the 1980s and 1990s, Sayles could do no wrong. Passion Fish, City of Hope, Limbo, Men with Guns, Lone Star….

  4. danaking - Sep 9, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    One of my two favorite baseball movies. The other? Bull Durham, of course. (Major League runs a strong third.)

    • Old Gator - Sep 9, 2013 at 12:25 PM

      No Pride of the Yankees? No It Happens Every Spring? No Sandlot? And worst of all, no…”Baseball Bugs”?

      (MLA Style Sheet, I sacrifice my newborns to you [children being horrible anyway]; I protect and defend you to the death!)

      • stex52 - Sep 9, 2013 at 3:04 PM

        Pride of the Yankees and It Happens Every Spring. Right there with you. Seems a lot of times like no one thinks any movies were made before 1985.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Sep 9, 2013 at 3:19 PM

        I loved Pride of the Yankees. Still do. Even with the miscast Gary Cooper. Especially with the totally GND hot Teresa Wright. BUT I would not call it a great film or great baseball movie. It is so sappy and syrupy that diabetics are not allowed to get near it. It does occasionally inject an actual fact about Gehrig. But I would not put it in the same league as 8MO.

      • spudchukar - Sep 9, 2013 at 7:13 PM

        Why is it Happens Every Spring never get the credit it deserves. But Gator, gotta see Flashing Spikes, it wasn’t a movie, it was one of the old hour long productions back when TV thought it was an art form. Jimmy Stewart and yes even The Duke. Still this “film” rocks.

    • cohnjusack - Sep 9, 2013 at 1:42 PM

      What about the one where a chimp plays third base alongside Joey from Friends? That works on so many levels. A monkey playing baseball!?! Genius!

    • djpostl - Sep 9, 2013 at 3:51 PM

      Two words. Long Gone.

  5. umrguy42 - Sep 9, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    You can’t compare (maybe) the damage of PEDs versus fixing games, but the comparisons on how baseball ownership tried to cover up both ARE pretty similar. I’ve been re-reading Burying the Black Sox, and noting quite a few sentiments that seem to perfectly match what was going on with MLB in the ’90s – a few examples:

    - “Maybe it’s all so much hot air, but you can be sure of one thing – it will take a thousand gumshoes to prove anything.” Of course, first it would take the will to hire a thousand gumshoes. Baseball had shown in the past that its will to investigate was wanting.

    - The one big thing to do is to make the sport the thing. So long as the gate receipts are more important than winning games there can be no real reform. [off-topic: Also holds for Jeff Loria...]

  6. dexterismyhero - Sep 9, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    It was pretty cool making the movie in here Indianapolis at the old stadium of the Indianapolis Indians. Several great players came through there.

  7. APBA Guy - Sep 9, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    I always thought “Brother..” and “Lone Star” were of a piece, best viewed together.

    When I was a kid, adjacent to the GW campus in DC was the old Circle Theatre. They ran related movies as a double feature, and there was a two-sided synopsis/critique of the day’s films printed and stacked in the lobby. If you bought a 10-pack each double feature was $1.00. Learned more about movies as an art form this way than I did in any university course I took on the subject.

    • Old Gator - Sep 9, 2013 at 12:58 PM

      In the spring of 1969 a friend of mine who went to Georgetown and I were kicked out of that small artsy movie theater right down the street from the main campus off the corner of Wisconsin. I don’t remember the name of the place – we were passing a joint around, you get the picture? – but we got even by copying the theater’s ad header and taking an eighth of a page ad in the Georgetown “alternative” paper claiming that they would be running an Amos n’ Andy festival as a midnight show all next week. Again, this was 1969. Did they get picketed? Is Godzilla radioactive?

  8. moogro - Sep 9, 2013 at 1:01 PM

    mmmm…The Cutting Edge. Best chikflik sports movie ever.

    • historiophiliac - Sep 9, 2013 at 1:22 PM

      Never seen it. Is it baseball?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 9, 2013 at 2:51 PM

        Almost positive it’s the one about figure skating.

      • historiophiliac - Sep 9, 2013 at 2:55 PM

        Oh, that must be why I haven’t seen it.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Sep 9, 2013 at 3:21 PM

      Cutting Edge: perhaps the very best 2-syllable line ever. Toe-pick.

      • djpostl - Sep 9, 2013 at 3:52 PM

        “You want me to put my hands where?”

    • djpostl - Sep 9, 2013 at 3:53 PM

      Dooooogliss Dorseeeeee

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