Eight Men Out (1988) Poster

(1988)

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One of the better sports-related movies
mlevans5 January 2002
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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9/10
Great Eight
active18yos19 January 2005
Although I generally agree with Roger Ebert's reviews, I just can't understand how he was annoyed enough with this movie to give it a measly two stars. He claims that there wasn't enough exposition. I found everything explained satisfactorily, even for the non-fan or baseball history buff. And it is period-piece film-making at its finest. I cannot imagine a better telling of this story. And the baseball action is excellent. One factual error, though: Bucky Weaver (John Cusack) would never mention Babe Ruth as better (or even comparable) to Cobb, Speaker and Wheat in 1919 or 1920. It shocks me that Sayles kept that line. USA Today heralded "Eight Men Out" as the greatest baseball movie ever, and though there is some fine company, I find it hard to disagree.
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When the world was corrupt.
Robert J. Maxwell6 July 2004
I especially enjoyed Studs Terkel and John Sayles as the two sportswriters, Fullerton and Lardner. They're very droll. They act as a kind of Greek chorus, making cynical wisecracks, keeping the audience clued in on what's supposed to be going on. As the White Sox play out yet another crooked game, Sayles said to Terkel, "Nothing but fast balls." "Nice, sloow ones," adds Terkel. It gets better. Terkel writes a column for the Chicago paper accusing gamblers of corrupting the game of baseball and Sayles is reading it aloud. "Writers are tainting the game," or something, says Sayles. "Keep reading," says Terkel. "The game would be better off without the long-nosed, thick-lipped Eastern element preying on our boys in the field." Terkels smiles around his cigar and says, "Makes you proud to be a sportswriter, doesn't it?"

The rest of the movie is pretty good too, although I sometimes get the characters and their motives a little mixed up. The baseball scenes are very well done. I say this, being no big fan of the sport myself. Charlie Sheen (a true aficionado) looks like he's heaving a heavy bat as he clunks out a hit, not a rubber prop. I admired too the way the series games swung back and forth as the players on the take tried to figure out if they were playing for the money or for themselves. It's tough to throw a game because part of one's self always wants to do what one does best -- in this case, play baseball well. The German ethologists call it "Funktionslust." In the end, despite some indecision, they do however lose.

The movie isn't kind to the gamblers or to the owners. Comisky was incredibly cheap and greedy. The script gives this as one of the reasons why the players agreed to throw the game. As Strathairn says when someone offers him a part payment, "I don't care about the money." He's throwing the games to foul up Comisky who has just denied him a promised bonus because Strathairn, playing the pitcher Cicotte, has only played 29 games instead of the 30 they'd agreed upon. Comisky has made him sit on the bench for the last few games so he wouldn't cross the bonus threshold. (Question: Given that Comisky cheated Cicotte of the contracted bonus, was Cicotte morally justified in throwing the games?)

The movie isn't nice to the gamblers either. Not only don't they pay off but they treat the players with contempt. Arnold Rothstein ("A.R.") treats EVERYBODY rudely. He never says hello when he enters a room, never says good-bye when leaving, and never smiles.

I kind of liked this. Sayles may not be a master but his films are always highly individualized. I cannot visualize him directing "Die Hard With A Sardonic Grin."
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10/10
One of the most under-apreciated films of the last 25 years
Robert Reynolds20 July 2001
This is probably the best film to be completely ignored by every major award in film in the last 25 years. For all that its about baseball players, it is NOT a baseball movie. The Black Sox scandal and its effect on baseball transcended baseball. The ensemble cast does a marvelous job, particularly Straithairn and Sweeney, who plays "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, one of the more tragic figures of the whole mess. In spite of taking money to throw the Series, Jackson went out and batted .375 for the Series. The Chicago payers in on the payoff (and one poor soul who didn't go along, but was approached) were banned from baseball for life. No less an authority than Ted Williams believes Jackson should be in the Hall of Fame. But I digress. The film goes into the motivations of the players, who were playing for a pittance and had no say over where they played. Thus they were perfect targets for the fix in the first place. Excellent and gripping film about human reactions to stress and temptation. Most recommended.
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8/10
Interesting Film for all Baseball Fans
Snazel13 April 2007
Eight Men Out provides a "Reader's Digest" version of the complicated events surrounding the 1919 World Series.

If you forgive the fact the film has to simplify certain aspects of the conspiracy in order to make the film easier to digest, then you will find that Eight Men Out is a worthy film and in the category of "baseball movies" it's one of the best.

There are anachronisms in the film here and there, the worst of which is Buck Weaver's question asking which of the lawyers was the "Babe Ruth" of law. Sure Babe Ruth was coming into his own by 1920, but most ballplayers in that era would not have place Ruth in the class of Cobb, Tris Speaker or Walter Johnson. For baseball fans, this line in particular really comes off as shallow, especially since the rest of the film really tries to capture the "dead-ball" era. For the most part though, this film feels and sounds a lot like America right after World War I ends, a fascinating time and place.

Studs Terkel steals the show in my estimation. His character in the film is not far from whom he is in real life and his authenticity is undeniable. John Sayles is a little stiff by comparison and his singing in the railway car (which according to legend did actually happen), is rather difficult to bear. None the less, his direction makes up for his foibles as an actor.

Straitharn is another gem in this movie, and once again this actor seems to get right to the soul of the characters he is given to play. Eddie Cicotte's dilemmas are written all over Straitharn's face in every scene, he's also given some of the best dialog in the film. Cusack plays his part well, despite the fact that many of his scenes are reduced to clichés. Cusack's best moments are when he is frustrated about his inclusion in the conspiracy trial, despite the fact he gave his all to try and win the series. His outbursts in the courtroom seem perfect, as if drawn from the trial transcripts themselves.

Joe Jackson is given unfair treatment. If "Field of Dreams" mythologizes Jackson to point of hyperbole, "Eight Men Out" plays up his illiteracy with too much of a heavy hand. Joe Jackson wasn't stupid, indeed if you read his last major interview before he died, he speaks about the "Black Sox" with great alacrity and clarity. He was not as ignorant as this film would have you believe. One day someone will produce a film about Joe Jackson, that will portray him accurately, but Eight Men Out is not that film.

Although their roles are very minor, Kid Gleason and Ray Schalk are really well played and written. These two went through a very difficult time during the series, and this is well demonstrated. One minor beef is that Nemo Leibold, Shano Collins and other players outside of the conspiracy are never touched upon at all. This is understandable to a degree given the relatively short length of the film, despite the complexity of the subject matter.

The baseball scenes themselves are well done. The bats, balls, gloves and uniforms look like the equipment of that era and the ballparks are successful mock ups for the most part. There are even a couple of nifty athletic displays in the outfield that must have taken several takes to pull off.

Overall, this is my second favorite baseball movie, next to "Bull Durham". Its a little light on some of the details of the conspiracy, but it makes up for it in other areas. It has some great music, some great sets, some solid acting and overall seems genuine and fair to all the major players in the conspiracy.

Eight Men Out isn't perfect, but it isn't as flawed as Roger Ebert would have you believe. If you a fan of baseball in fact, I'd say its mandatory viewing.
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10/10
Dear God, I love this movie!
marcslope16 October 2000
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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10/10
Beautiful, Devastating. The Finest Baseball Film Ever Made.
darko252524 July 2002
When people talk about their favorite baseball movies, you always hear the same titles being tossed around. Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, and of course, these are terrific movies. But I don't think any one movie has so perfectly caputured the game, the public's love and obsession with it, and how fragile and vulnerable the men whos play it can be. John Sayles movie, from Eliot Asinof's impeccably researched book, so perfectly caputres America in 1919, and paints the Black Sox scandal as a tragedy, whereby men capable of great things are brought down to the level of theives and gangsters by something as simple as greed, and as awful as revenge. What sets this movie apart, to me, is the cast. There is an athleticism about this cast. Charlie Sheen had a scholarship to play ball at Kansas State, and is well known for his passion for baseball. D.B. Sweeney, who is simply remarkable as Shoeless Joe Jackson, the illiterate hitting machine, whose tragedy also spawned the novel Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella, which served as the source for Field of Dreams, played minor league ball before a motorcycle accident ended his career. They look and play like ballplayers. In far too many films there is something horribly fake about the baseball aspect. Some capture baseball scenes perfectly, and simply haven't the emotional, real life depth that a movie needs, while others capture plenty on the emotional side but fall short in terms of the realism on the field. This movie is a rare GEM that captures both so well. The acting is terrific. Sweeny, as said, does a fantastic job, as do John Mahoney as the team's manager, and the terrific character player Michael Rooker (who oddly is only good in movies where he isn't highly billed...for example, don't see Jean Claude Van Damme and Michael Rooker in Replicant...) as Chick Gandil, the first baseman whose shady connections initiate the whole gambling scenario. But the standout performance has to be John Cusack as third-baseman Buck Weaver. His being drawn into the scandal's backlash is by far the most devastating part of this film, as he is the moral center of the film, torn between his love of his teammates, and his loyalty to the integrity of a game he loves, and never got over the loss of. Simply Remarkable.
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10/10
Commy's Chicago Chiselers
bkoganbing24 October 2008
One of the best baseball films ever made was about the sport's darkest hour, the fixing of the 1919 World Series. Eight of the heavily favored members of the Chicago White Sox threw the World Series as a result of payoffs and bigger promises of payoffs to gambling interests. In the background of those interests was the notorious Arnold Rothstein who was never brought to trial. The eight players were the Eight Men Out, banned for life by the newly appointed Commissioner of Baseball, Kenesaw Mountain Landis played here most impressively by John Anderson. Anderson even looks like Landis.

The whole unvarnished truth is laid out there, owner Charles Comiskey a pioneer owner in the American League who treated his players like field hands as he assiduously courted the press and through them the fans. A little more generous with the profits this story might never have occurred. Clifton James plays the greedy and rapacious Comiskey. The incident where Eddie Cicotte is not started so that Comiskey can save on a promised bonus if he pitched and won 30 games has come down in legend. Cicotte and Lefty Williams played by David Strathairn and James Read were the key to the conspiracy. They lost the five games in that best five out of nine series to the Reds to throw the series. The bad play in the field by the others insured the result.

Two things that are not mentioned in the film, but are very important; viewers ought to know. The best pitcher the White Sox had was Hall of Famer Urban 'Red' Faber who had led the team to a World Series win in 1917, the last one they would have until 2005. Faber came up injured and was disabled and was not available to pitch in the 1919 series. Had he stayed honest and not been injured, the result might have been different.

Eddie Collins the second baseman was played here by Bill Irwin and what's not mentioned here is that Collins started out with Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics, part of his fabled $100,000.00 infield. When Mack broke up his team and sold off the players in 1941-1915, Collins got a guaranteed salary of $15,000.00, way above what his teammates were getting. Collins was one of Mack's favorites and he got that salary guaranteed for him by Comiskey before parting with him. That caused a lot of the jealousy you see portrayed in Eight Men Out.

The real ringleaders were shortstop Swede Risberg and first baseman Chick Gandil as is shown here. They roped the others in. They're played by Don Harvey and Michael Rooker.

The two that come down to us as the biggest tragedies are John Cusack as Buck Weaver and D.B. Sweeney as Shoeless Joe Jackson. Weaver knew about the fix, but would not rat out his teammates, hoping they'd come around and play on the square. He was treated as if he were a conspirator himself and suffered the same banishment.

As for Shoeless Joe Jackson, his lifetime average of .356 and the fact that he is one of the select group of .400 hitters would put him in the Hall of Fame. During the teen years he was overshadowed by Ty Cobb in the American League, but in the Twenties might have come into his own. He showed signs of adapting to the lively ball era that Babe Ruth was just inaugurating.

He was also illiterate and was easily manipulated into the fix. Despite that his play like Weaver's was outstanding in that series, he hit the only home run recorded by either side in that next to last series of the dead ball era. What you see with D.B. Sweeney is exactly how poor Jackson was.

Baseball like other sports is a business and some of those businessmen are greedy indeed. Sad that it was the players who paid the ultimate price to clean up the sport in the mind of the public. Eight Men Out captures the era and mood of the times and even non-sports fans will enjoy this film immensely.
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10/10
My favorite baseball movie
RNMorton12 January 2001
Everything's right in this period piece on baseball's darkest moment. Film eschews standard Hollywood overkill and presents things as they actually happened [you won't see Shoeless Joe talking like a Harvard grad in this one]; also avoids taking sides between greedy players and greedy owner, and lets you decide who screwed who. Fantastic atmosphere. Cusack as Buck Weaver, on the fringes of the scandal, and David Strathairn, as ace pitcher Eddie Cicotte, lead a cast which is solid through the whole lineup.
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9/10
Great account of baseball's troubled past.
SmileysWorld26 April 2002
We were a young,innocent nation in 1919,though we did have our troubles. Luckily,we had a relatively new game of baseball to take us away from those troubles.Surely,nothing bad could happen to such a great game,or so we thought.It seems that eight players took bribes to deliberately lose the 1919 World Series,and we did not take it very well.How could they?How could they betray our trust and our fanship this way? This film,which incidentally never has gotten the full credit it has deserved over the years,brilliantly brings to life this scandal which gave our nation one big black eye.It is a must see for any true fan of baseball. Baseball indeed has a mostly colorful history,but there was a time when that color was black.Over the years,the wounds have healed,but the scars remain.A truly brilliant and underrated film.
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8/10
Despite Sayles' Slants, It's A Good Baseball Story
ccthemovieman-11 June 2006
This was a well-done account of the famous 1919 Black Sox scandal in Major League baseball many years ago. The movie features an excellent cast and does a nice job of re-creating the era. The music of period is effectively used here, too, as are the interior and exterior of the ballpark.

The most memorable players seemed to be pitcher Eddie Cicotte (David Strathairn) and infielder Buck Weaver (John Cusack). Cicotte, being the ace pitcher on the staff, was the key player involved in fixing the 1919 World Series and Weaver stood out because he was made to look as a totally-innocent player who got unfairly blackballed from pro baseball. At least this is according to John Sayles, who directed the film. Sayles also shows "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, the most famous player of that scandal, to be just a naive, kind of dumb guy who didn't know what was going on. (However, history records Jackson making an unusual number of throwing errors in the field, which makes him suspect.)

Sayles also goes out of his way to make Chicago White Sox owner Charles Comiskey as a notorious tightwad who invited this sort of thing (players taking bribes) by grossly underpaying his players. They also make a point of showing him screwing Cicotte out of a big bonus. The filmmakers almost make the crooks into the good guys! Gosh, Hollywood would never do that! So, as you can see, so don't take this story as "gospel." I'm sure some of it is very true, but how much?

The baseball scenes are realistic in the field but aren't all that credible pitching and hitting. Note: Sayles has an acting role in here as does real-life sportswriter Studs Terkel, who isn't a bad actor! Michael Lerner, Charlie Sheen, Christopher Lloyd, Michael Rooker, Clifton James all add to this deep cast.
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7/10
the antidote to Field of Dreams
Michael Neumann15 November 2010
When the team that couldn't be beat threw the World Series in 1919 they did more than deliberately lose a few baseball games; they corrupted the National Pastime and ushered the sport out of its age of innocence. Writer director John Sayles succeeds in showing exactly how and why eight players on the best team in baseball set in motion what had to be one of the most poorly conceived, organized and executed conspiracies in the whole history of graft, and in his usual role as a champion of the working class portrays the guilty players as victims of money-grubbing corporate exploitation (represented both by team management and organized crime).

But it's all the cynical wheeling and dealing behind the Black Sox scandal which make the film so fascinating. The story might have been unbelievable if it wasn't entirely true, but like any aspect of real life the details are messy and inconclusive. Most of the film recounts the mechanics of the fix; events during the subsequent exposure and trial are telescoped too quickly into the final forty minutes or so, which makes sense: in any conspiracy the crime is always more interesting than the punishment.

It helps to be at least slightly familiar with the huge cast of characters involved: players, gamblers, reporters and so forth. A few scenes have been added for dramatic unity, and others were abbreviated to maintain a consistent pace, but all the facts are there, and Sayles manages to pull them all together in an entertaining history lesson from our collective adolescence, re-creating that fateful moment when the boys of summer grew up for good.
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9/10
Solid film dramatization of the Black Sox scandal, from a labor point of view
Red-12523 September 2015
Eight Men Out (1988) was written and directed by John Sayles. The movie is a dramatization of the events before, during, and after the 1919 World Series. I found this movie both fascinating and moving.

Director Sayles--who also plays journalist Ring Lardner--has formulated the film as a labor vs. management struggle. Sayles portrays club owner Charles Comiskey as a miserly, selfish, dictatorial boss. His team was the finest in baseball, yet he underpaid them, broke promises to them, and got rich while they remained poor. From this perspective, most of the players were easy targets for gamblers, who arranged for them throw the series and collect the cash offered to them.

The acting was excellent, especially by John Cusack, who played George 'Buck' Weaver. Weaver maintained that he was innocent until the day he died, and Cusack made that position believable. Also excellent was Hugh Fullerton who played journalist Studs Terkel.

If you love baseball, this is a can't-miss movie. If you don't love baseball, I still recommend it. That's because it's very dramatic, and it really is a labor film as much as it's a baseball film. We saw the movie in the wonderful Dryden Theatre in George Eastman House, in Rochester, NY. It was part of the excellent Rochester Labor Film Series.

It was a treat to see an original print of the film projected on the large screen at the Dryden. I think some of the drama of the baseball games will be lost on the small screen, but the film will work well anyway. Find it and see it!
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8/10
I love baseball; and really like this movie.
Michael O'Keefe28 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Baseball fan or not, EIGHT MEN OUT is worth watching. Directed by John Sayles, this film is based on the book by Eliot Asinol, depicting the 1919 Chicago White Sox tainted by scandal. The team's owner, Charles Comiskey(Clifton James), was a well know skin flint and not ashamed of being a penny pincher. The Sox were a pennant worthy team and seemed an easy target for a group of organized gamblers. Several of the under paid ballplayers were offered $80,000 to throw the World Series. Stumbling and slacking off by certain players became very obvious. The players started feeling antsy when they realized that the promised money was not being paid equally...if at all. Two players, Buck Weaver(John Cusack) and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson gathered their wits and refused to even take part. Two years after losing the series, the team was sued on various counts. A Grand Jury found eight players named in the "fix" innocent of all charges; but baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis(John Anderson)suspended the eight players for the rest of their life. The team would become known as the Chicago Black Sox and the scandal would prove to be one of the saddest and darkest events in the history of the sport. Weaver professed his innocence for the rest of his life. Outstanding performances from Cusack and Sweeney. The baseball scenes were top notch and mostly filmed at St. Louis Busch Stadium. Rounding out the cast:John Mahoney, Christopher Lloyd, David Strathairn, Gordon Clapp, Bill Irwin, Michael Rooker, James Read and Charlie Sheen.
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7/10
Solid sports drama
Maziun16 November 2013
I've never been a fan of baseball. The only movies about baseball that could interest me were comedies ("Major league" , "Dullham bulls") . Until I've seen "Field of dreams" and this one. Then I realized that you could make a serious movie with baseball in it.

"Eight men out" is a story about corruption. The movie never takes any side , it allows us to choose our own interpretation of whole story. It seems that everyone here has some sins – the players , the club owners, the journalists and frauds.

The movie has cast full of stars – John Cusack ("Say anything"), Christopher Lloyd ("Back to the future") , Charlie Sheen (TV series "Two and half men") , Michael Rooker ("Cliffhanger") . It's entertaining even for someone who doesn't know a thing about baseball (like me). It's quite long movie (almost 2 hours) , yet never a moment is wasted . The atmosphere of the post - I world war America is top notch , especially the music .

A good movie worth a chance . Recommended for sports fans. I give it 7/10.
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Eight Men Out---My "Extra" Innings
alaspiaggia3 August 2011
My perspective on Eight Men Out is different than most...I was an extra, recognizably (if you knew me) visible in at least two scenes. In fact, so close in focus was I that the assistant director eventually told me that they couldn't use me any more, because I had been "seen", meaning, I guess, that people would notice me in several different scenes. Not only did I learn about the baseball history depicted, but I learned about movie making, too. I worked at several of the Indianapolis shooting locations, including the Scottish Rite Cathedral, and what was then "Victory Field", the home of the Triple A Indianapolis Indianapolis Indians. It was trippy filming there, as I had been there for many games over the years as an Indians fan. For some of the shots, they couldn't get enough extras to show up to make the crowd, so they had to put cardboard cut-outs (called "standees" now?) in the stadium seats. The first day I showed up, I met the extras casting director, Avy Kaufman...she said, "I like your face", and sent me to wardrobe to get my period suit, shoes and hat---I was in! Thus began what would be a string of very long---but rewarding---days, for the grand sum of $20 per day, cash, paid out of a box in the semi-darkened parking lot. One day we did a double shift---16 hours---and got paid $40. We were fed in the same room, but not at the same table, as the actors. It was really neat being just a few feet away from these actors, some of whom I had seen in sitcoms and movies...Mahoney from Cheers, Lloyd from Back to the Future, Anderson from, among others, a Twilight Zone episode, and, of course, Studa Turkel and John Sayles. And note one other young actor in the cast: Charlie Sheen---should have gotten his autograph while I had the chance! The man who played the jury foreman, Rich Komenich had, years before, dressed up in a costume for a popular areas pizza franchise, and I had partied with him thanks to a woman I date. I remember the frequent chemical odor from the "smoke" or "fog" machine,since they fogged most of the indoor shots, apparently to cover up certain set details. Then there were the crude antique flash units we "reporters" had to hold up when when they shot the press conference held by Clifton James' character, Commiskey, the laborious to lace up period shoes that were closer to boots,the molded plastic ice cubes in the cocktail glasses we used in Michael Lerner's Rothstein scene, and the infrequent mouthing of nonsense lines to fake conversation of the background extras. If I had been a smoker, I would have been standing right next to Lerner in that scene, but I couldn't fake proficiency at a habit I didn't have. Perhaps what was more surrealistic than anything else was the contrast between how some of the extras looked in their period costumes, and how they looked in their street clothes before or after we changed...everything from gym shorts and t-shirts to overalls. I got such a big kick out of watching myself when this movie premiered the next year...realizing my screen "performance" will outlive me. A great movie and a great experience....
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7/10
A good movie
gazzo-29 June 2009
Quite good, authentic, gets a little too complex later on..., 25 August 2002 (This comment was deleted by IMDb based on an abuse report filed by another user) I always have liked this one. Sayles takes a complex and important part of our country's sporting past and tries to make sense of it. I admire the casting, the baseball parts are authentic looking, and you gotta enjoy seeing old John Anderson as Kenesaw Mtn Landis. Dead on.

In reality, Charlie Sheen looks a lot more like Chick Gandil than Rooker does, but that is okay. Both guys were fine in their roles. Sweeney takes some of the 'Field of Dreams' mystique outta the Joe Jax role, simply plays him as a gifted hitter who was a dumb hick outside the field. Buck Weaver-as played by Cusack-sympathetic as well, nicely done.

All of them in fact-familiar faces, be it Harvey or Straitharn(kinda Bill Bixby looking isn't he?) or 'Ray Schalk', 'Lefty Williams', etc. The usual great Sayles ensemble. I also like seeing Clifton James in here too as 'the Old Roman'. 'Live and Let Die', anyone? What doesn't work? Some of the guys look too much alike, and if yer not a baseball fan you won't know Risberg from Mullen. And the whole business between Christopher Lloyd, the varied gamblers and the law, well-it was difficult to follow that too.

It looks like: Comiskey paid off the Gamblers to keep their association outta the public eye. At least that is shown. And to target the players only.

Comiskey paid for the lawyers repping the players, 'secretly'.

The Gamblers bought off the jury to keep the players from being convicted and gamblers possibly being drug into trial further.

The players didn't have reps when signing the confessions and were tricked, esp. Joe Jax.

The Commissioner was gonna tar and feather the 8 no matter how the jury went to make an example for everyone to see.

Kenesaw Landis was a corrupt racist who helped make sure the black players were kept outta the game during his lifetime(thru '44)...

The Gamblers/mob guys got away with it, even though they were the ones who set it up, profited from it, paid for it, etc. Comiskey was a cheap SOB who deserved what he got too. Disgraceful.

It all looks like a set up, doesn't it? No matter what happened, the players were not going to get out unscathed.

Very good flick. ***1/2 outta ****
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8/10
Enjoyed being in this movie
cometheedge9 July 2008
I had the privilege of being an 'extra'in this wonderful film. You can see the back and side of my head in the 'bar' after the Sox won the pennant. I was also John Cusack's stand-in for one scene. Cusack was very personable and cracked jokes during breaks. Charlie Sheen was aloof and didn't talk to anyone but seemed very professional. Bill Irwin (Eddie Collins) was extremely friendly and shook hands with all the extras at the end of the day's filming, saying "We couldn't have done this without you, thank you so much." Studs Terkel stood next to me during a break in one scene. The cast was ordered to be quiet, but Studs had to tell a story. Since I was standing closest to him, he shared a few anecdotes about people he knew who were involved in the events of the 1919 Series. Great experience on the set and I LOVED this movie!!!!
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8/10
Good Movie, GREAT BOOK
tobybarlowny21 April 2006
This is one of the greatest sports stories ever told, the real story about how and WHY they fixed the World Series. Eliot Asinof's book should be read by anyone interested in history, and Sayles does an admirable job of tying it all together into a script (Sayles even cast Asinof in the movie, and then cast him again in Sunshine State.) It's a story that anyone interested in a history of America, a history of labor and management, a history of the greatest game will definitely enjoy. After reading it, the Shoeless Joe character from "Field of Dreams" suddenly has a resonance which that particular film could never explain (though it is nicely explained in the source for that film "Shoeless Joe") Also worth reading is "The Glory of Their Times" an oral history of early baseball.
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8/10
The greatest baseball movie ever made.
mckinnonp15 September 2000
Whether or not you are familiar with the "Black Sox" scandal of 1919, or even with baseball, you should enjoy this film. The producers took great care to present a historically accurate story, taking dramatic liberties at just the right times ("Say it ain't so Joe"). It is up to you where to place the blame for the scandal, as all sides are presented well. Nevertheless, it's hard not to get emotional when "Shoeless" Joe Jackson tips his cap to a minor league crowd.
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8/10
Not primarily a sports film, but a labor, class, and economics film instead.
nichols30 November 1999
Sayles is my favorite director -- not because he is the best (he is very good, but not the best) -- because of where his heart always is. No matter what the context, Sayles always comes through for labor, for the little person, for the exploited. And what he does is always credible. This was a hard film to watch. One simply felt bad for characters and for the historical individuals they represented. Films that make people feel bad don't usually do much at the box office. Hope this one did well anyway.
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Looks Good, Feels Classy -- But Falls Short In the End
Dan1863Sickles10 April 2004
It almost feels like cheating to complain about this movie. John Sayles took an incredibly complex story with at least eight memorable characters, and made a coherent and entertaining period drama. That should be enough, and yet -- somehow it's not.

EIGHT MEN OUT fails for a number of reasons. First of all, the left-leaning Sayles is trying to be an advocate for the despised working class. This would be fine, but somehow he transforms eight tough, hardened men into limp, passive, oddly childlike characters. An earlier poster got it right when he mentioned that Buck Weaver was "not nearly this nice in real life." Not that these men were MEAN, but they were hard men in a hard time. In this movie, Swede Risberg coaxes and flatters Joe Jackson into joining the conspiracy. In real life he threatened to break his face. John Cusack plays Buck Weaver as Bambi, all helpless and innocent when the bad men take his bat and ball away.

By the same token, Joe Jackson (who had been in the Big Leagues since 1911) was certainly old enough and tough enough to know what he was getting into. The film portrays him as borderline retarded, with the face of a twelve year old. Is this the best Sayles can do when coming to terms with an American tragedy?

And what's with the cute little kids, anyway? Readers of James T. Farrel's STUDS LONIGAN trilogy will know that the boys of Chicago's South Side in 1919 were more like the savage club and razor-wielding droogs of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE than these McCauley Culkin wanna-be's. Maybe Sayles was getting his casting tips from Michael Jackson!

I humbly suggest that the real Buck Weaver was probably much harder, more cynical, and more used to being brutalized -- less Bambi, more Brando in ON THE WATERFRONT. Instead of coming across as complex and honorable, the movie portrays Weaver as a weak-willed sap. I don't suppose we could have expected HAMLET, but maybe something along the lines of THE WILD BUNCH would have worked. Buck Weaver is clearly Deke Thornton, while Chick Gandil is Pike Bishop. Regrettably, however, Sayles is paralyzed by his socialist school of naturalism, and is unable to imagine working men as anything other than passive victims.

Another reason the film fails is that Sayles takes an entirely false and self-congratulatory tone when depicting the two sports writers, Ring Lardner and Hughie Fullerton. These men are depicted as being above suspicion simply because they are sportswriters. In other words, white collar workers are men of integrity by definition, while blue collar workers are easily led astray. This is the leftist genius? But watch the film and you will see that Sayles never asks the most obvious questions about Ring Lardner. Didn't he know the Sox were underpaid? Didn't he take management's side against the players for years? Wasn't he just as exploitative as Comiskey himself? The movie presents Lardner as a crusading truth teller, when in reality he was a moral coward who always backed the status quo.

To sum up, then. By refusing to treat the White Sox as men, by refusing to make hard choices and state uncompromising truths, Sayles has opted out of tragedy, and settled for pathos.
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8/10
The scandal of 1919 White Sox
esteban174713 May 2003
Money is sometimes a poison to any sport, the problem becomes bigger when the sport men are badly paid and the owner is gaining a fortune. This is what happened in 1919, baseball players of the quality of Ed Cicotte, Lefty Williams and Joe "shoeless" Jackson were not paid adequately while Mr. Comiskey was earning a lot with the impressive performance of his team. So the solution was not far and the players accepted to sell the games for money that never came to them. Most of these players are dead at present, but it would still a justice to really know whether Joe Jackson and Buck Weaver played for money. It is true that they knew of the deal, but one thing is to know and another is to play wrongly. Looking at this film you finished with these doubts and nobody may yet clarify them. In any case, the film was done very well giving the correct environment of that period in Major Leagues, the gloves used by players, clothes, etc. Among the actors, I like the acting of David Strathairn as Cicotte, D.B. Sweeney as Joe Jackson and John Cusack as Buck Weaver, but the most outstanding for me was Sweeney.
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10/10
The Real Truth
disbroweted6 February 2006
I have seen many sports movies, but in my opinion, this show is #1. I believe that is probably very close to how the scandal actually happened. There were no scenes added to make a fairy tale of this movie. It is about the sorrow that will always be associated with the 1919 Chicago White Sox. The scene at the end, that shows Joe Jackson playing for the love of the game and tipping his cap for the fans, will send chills down your back and put a lump in your throat. The song "After You've Gone" (and being sung by whoever) while the credits are being shown, sums it all up. A truly fantastic movie, especially for anyone who has been involved in sports.
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7/10
Remembering the Black Sox
EmperorNortonII13 August 2002
To this day, baseball has been a huge part of Americana. And nothing has given the sport a black eye like the World Series scandal of 1919. John Sayles presents the historic swindle in "Eight Men Out." A lot of emotions are on display, as the Chicago White Sox players struggle with the moral dilemmas of the love of the game and being role models to the youth of Chicago, or their desperation caused by tight-fisted White Sox owner Charles Comiskey. Back then, many people of Chicago were ready to forgive their hometown heroes. And even now, you can't help but feel sympathy for the wronged players.
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