Eight Men Out (1988)

PG   |    |  Drama, History, Sport


Eight Men Out (1988) Poster

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

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7.3/10
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  • John Cusack and Barbara Garrick in Eight Men Out (1988)
  • Charlie Sheen in Eight Men Out (1988)
  • David Strathairn in Eight Men Out (1988)
  • Christopher Lloyd and Richard Edson in Eight Men Out (1988)
  • John Cusack and D.B. Sweeney in Eight Men Out (1988)
  • John Cusack and Michael Rooker in Eight Men Out (1988)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


5 January 2002 | mlevans
One of the better sports-related movies
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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Did You Know?

Trivia

Arnold "Chick" Gandil met Joseph "Sport" Sullivan while Gandil was a member of the Washington Senators. Sullivan was one of the key members of the scheme to throw the 1919 World Series.


Quotes

Lefty Williams: I thought you were supposed to be in charge of this thing! What happened to Sullivan?
Chick Gandil: He switched hotels, we can't track him down.
Lefty Williams: And what happened to Attell?
Chick Gandil: Shot his wad in the third game when Kerr won. Said he's busted.
Hap Felsch: Hell with them then.
Chick Gandil: Hey,...


Goofs

Cincinnati is the first team shown batting in Game 1, even though they are the home team. In the previous scene, when Rothstein first arrives to listen to the play-by-play, the announcer reads off the results of Chicago's turn at bat in the top of the first inning.


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.


Alternate Versions

Five seconds were cut from the British theatrical release in order to obtain a "PG" rating. The film was later released uncut on video and the rating was upgraded ("15" for the earlier release and "12" for the DVD).


Soundtracks

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

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Drama | History | Sport

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