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>
The trial actually ends in August of 1921, nearly two years after the fix. The movie makes it seem as if it all took place in the time between the 1919 and 1920 baseball season. See more »
Early in the film, there is a close-up of Eddie Cicotte's right hand (Strathairn) as he is preparing the ball to throw his famous "shine ball". On the ball, the logo " Rawlings", as in the Rawlings Sporting Goods Company, can clearly be seen. But in 1919, Major League Baseball exclusively used baseballs manufactured by Spalding. Major League Baseball would not switch to baseballs made by Rawlings until 1977, 58 years later. See more »
[while scouting potential players for the fix]
Nah. Collins is the only one on the club getting paid what he's worth. Had it in his contract when he got traded.
What about Chick Gandil?
[Gandil fouls a pitch back]
He might do business. Chickie's a sport.
Bucky's one of the boys, but the thing about Bucky is he don't like to lose.
[Weaver grounds out and kicks the ground in disgust]
Can't stand to lose. Put him on the "maybe" list.
What about Ray Schalk?
[...] 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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