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Eight Men Out (1988)

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2:18 | Trailer
A dramatization of the Black Sox scandal when the underpaid Chicago White Sox accepted bribes to deliberately lose the 1919 World Series.

Director:

John Sayles

Writers:

Eliot Asinof (book), John Sayles (screenplay)
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Popularity
2,950 ( 959)
2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jace Alexander ... Dickie Kerr
John Cusack ... Buck Weaver
Gordon Clapp ... Ray Schalk
Don Harvey ... Swede Risberg
Bill Irwin ... Eddie Collins
Perry Lang ... Fred McMullin
John Mahoney ... Kid Gleason
James Read ... Lefty Williams
Michael Rooker ... Chick Gandil
Charlie Sheen ... Hap Felsch
David Strathairn ... Eddie Cicotte
D.B. Sweeney ... 'Shoeless' Joe Jackson
James Desmond James Desmond ... Smitty (as Jim Desmond)
John Sayles ... Ring Lardner
Studs Terkel ... Hugh Fullerton
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Storyline

The great Chicago White Sox team of 1919 is the saddest team to ever win a pennant. The team is bitter at their penny pincher owner, Charles Comiskey, and at their own teammates. Gamblers take advantage of this opportunity to offer some players money to throw the series. (Most of the players didn't get as much as promised.) But Buck Weaver and the great Shoeless Joe Jackson turn back at the last minute and try to play their best. The Sox actually almost come back from a 3-1 deficit. Two years later, the truth breaks out and the Sox are sued on multiple counts. They are found innocent by the jury but baseball commissioner Landis has other plans. The eight players are suspended for life, and Buck Weaver, for the rest of his life, tries to clear his name. Written by Patrick Lynn <pjustinl@worldnet.att.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The inside story of how the national pastime became a national scandal. See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | Sport

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 June 1989 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Eight Men Out See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,129,491, 5 September 1988

Gross USA:

$5,680,515

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$5,680,515
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Orion Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

While much is made about "Shoeless" Joe Jackson's lack of education, Swede Risberg dropped out of school after the third grade. See more »

Goofs

When the confessions disappeared, the next newspaper headline is dated Feb 2, 1920. The trial for the White Sox scandal opened on June 27, 1921. See more »

Quotes

Hired Killer: You're gonna lose tomorrow.
Lefty Williams: Oh, is that so?
Hired Killer: I know it for a fact. That your wife?
Lefty Williams: Yeah, what's it to you?
Hired Killer: You don't lose tomorrow, she dies.
Lefty Williams: Who sent you?
Hired Killer: You made a promise to certain people.
Lefty Williams: You son of a bitch!
Hired Killer: You can't protect her. If I don't do it, somebody else will. First inning, Mister Williams.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the opening credits of the movie, they are done against a blue cloudy sky up, then to the right and down to the bottom. Despite the ensemble cast, the most well-known leading and character actors at the time were credited first in alphabetical order, then lesser known actors that had roles that were just as large or larger were credited in pairs of two. Example: John Cusack, Christopher Lloyd, and Charlie Sheen were credited first, due to their successes with The Sure Thing, Back to the Future, and Platoon, respectively, but in pairs, Michael Rooker, Kevin Tighe, and Richard Edson also had pivotal roles, but were lesser known. Charlie Sheen was already well-established, but had no more than a few minutes of screen time the entire movie, Christopher Lloyd and Richard Edson were always together playing gamblers, but Lloyd was a much more well-known actor and credited first. See more »

Alternate Versions

Five seconds were cut from the British theatrical release in order to obtain a "PG" rating by removing a use of strong language. The film was later released uncut on video and the rating was upgraded to "15", which was subsequently downgraded to "12" for the DVD. See more »

Connections

Referenced in At the Movies: The Worst Films of 1988 (1989) See more »

Soundtracks

It could happen to you
(uncredited)
Music by Jimmy Van Heusen
Words by Johnny Burke
See more »

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User Reviews

One of the better sports-related movies
5 January 2002 | by mlevansSee all my reviews

This was a much more difficult Joe Jackson story to tell than `Field of Dreams.'

Sports movies are never easy to do and making one that reaches beyond the bounds of sports fans is especially challenging. While `Eight Men Out' may not quite grab the non-sports enthusiast as well as `Field of Dreams,' `Hoosiers' or `A League of Their Own,' (my own nominations for the three best sports-related movies of all-time), it DOES more than hold its own among the top third of the ever-growing list of baseball movies.

This is largely because it is not really a BASEBALL movie. Like the aforementioned films, it is a movie about people who happen to PLAY baseball. Based on the Eliot Asinof novel, the movie is, by and large, historically accurate. It also seems to be fairly even-handed in dishing out guilt. Yes, the players played for skinflint Charles `Old Roman' Comiskey, yes they were easy prey for the gambling element, yes they were lacking in education and common sense … yet they are not portrayed as innocent victims, either.

I have been a huge David Strathairn fan ever since `Eight Men Out.' His sensitive portrayal of star pitcher Eddie Cicotte was pivotal to the movie's success. Asinof correctly focused on Cicotte as the pivotal figure in the World Series fix. `Eddie's the key!' more than one character exclaimed. Other players, approached with the idea of throwing the series, reacted with shock when finding out the highly-respected Cicotte was involved. This was certainly no easy choice for Cicotte, a man of some integrity and conscience, but a pitcher nearing the end of his salad days and a man bitter at his mistreatment by Comiskey. Strathairn plays the intelligent, stressed character under the gun as well as any actor of his generation.

The rest of the cast is fine, too, with despicable Chick Gandil (Michael Rooker) and Swede Risberg (Don Harvey) playing the odds and pressuring teammates to go along. James Read is excellent as henpecked southern pitcher Claude `Lefty' Williams, probably the second most respected player on the team. Of course Buck Weaver (John Cusack) is a huge figure, considering the gamblers' pitch, then opting to pass when the money isn't immediately forthcoming.

The movie isn't shy about its version of good guys & bad guys. Gandil, Risberg & Swede's buddy Fred McMullin (Perry Lang) are the villains, while Williams, Weaver, Joe Jackson (D.B. Sweeney) and Manager Kid Gleason (John Mahoney) are victims. Hall of Famer Eddie Collins (Bill Irwin) and no-nonsense catcher (and controversial Hall of Famer) Ray Schalk (Gordon Clapp) are frustrated on-lookers, while Dickie Kerr (Jace Alexander) is the wide-eyed & naïve rookie. All turn in fine work and I find myself loving the taciturn Schalk, the kind of catcher every manager wants. Most interesting is the movie's portrayal of Shoeless Joe, who is interpreted as being mildly retarded, rather than just illiterate.

The baseball scenes are quite realistic, as are the ballpark backdrops. I first saw it the year after visiting Old Comiskey Park (the year before it was torn down) and felt right at home on the movie set – even the turnstiles looked authentic.

In closing, I can't honestly say that someone with NO knowledge or interest in baseball would flip over this film. Yet, one doesn't have to be a bleacher bum to enjoy it – and not knowing the outcome may actually make it MORE fun for the neophyte! Overall, a fine movie.


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