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 <email@example.com>
On the stand, White Sox manager Kid Gleason tells the lawyer that he was a pitcher during his playing days. He pitched about 400 games, and played second base in almost 1600 games. See more »
Comiskey gives his players flat champagne as a reward for winning the pennant. That actually happened after the 1917 season, when the White Sox beat the New York Giants and won The World Series. See more »
[When the players meet with him to accept the money before the first game]
It's all out on bets.
That's not good enough!
Hey! Don't worry, you'll get the money soon enough.
And how much?
100 grand, like I said. 20 after each game.
Wait a minute, that's 5 games. I thought we were just dumping a few.
No, you lose the first 3.
Kerr's pitching the third, he's not with us.
So what? We don't hit for him, he'll fold. He's a busher!
[...] See more »
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 »
John Sayles is always, always honest with his audiences, never resorting to cheap tricks or unwarranted sentiment; and this period drama about the "Black Sox" scandal of 1919 may be his finest hour. Incredibly handsome and lavish-looking for a low-budget indie, it's a meticulous re-creation of the first huge scandal in American professional sports, and the beginning of the loss of innocence in pro baseball (and American popular culture by extension). If that makes it sound a bit dry, let it be said that the characterizations are vivid, the characters multilayered, the costumes gorgeous, and the staging of the baseball games unusually convincing. (Ever notice how movie stars can't really fake pro-athlete moves? Watch John Cusack charge an outfield fly, or Charlie Sheen slide into third--they had me convinced.) In a uniformly excellent cast, David Strathairn's morally tortured star pitcher is especially impressive, as is John Mahoney's manager, alternately loving and despising his players, his eroding trust etched on his expressive face. And what a wonderful touch having Studs Terkel play a cynical sportswriter: He's the essence of Chicago style.
Some of the facts of the story are necessarily simplified or omitted to keep the movie under two hours, but there's not a moment of dishonesty or "Field of Dreams"-type goo. By the time the kid is looking Joe Jackson in the eye and pleading, "Say it ain't so," you'll probably be sniffling.
A high-water mark in the career of a great, versatile, underappreciated moviemaker.
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