Field of Dreams (1989) Poster


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After the movie was completed, test audiences didn't like the name "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, because they said it sounded like a movie about a bum or hobo. Universal called Director and Screenwriter Phil Alden Robinson to tell him that "Shoeless Joe" didn't work, and the studio changed the title of the film to "Field of Dreams". When Robinson heard the news of the change, he called W.P. Kinsella, the author of the book, and told him the "bad" news, but apparently he didn't care, saying that "Shoeless Joe" was the title the publishing company gave the book. Kinsella's original title was "Dream Field".
The studio built the baseball diamond on an actual farm in Dyersville, Iowa. After the filming was completed, the family owning the farm kept the field, and added a small hut where you could buy inexpensive souvenirs. As of 2012, visitors were free to come to the field and play baseball as they please.
The last cinema film of Burt Lancaster. He was seventy-four at the time of filming.
The shot of the line-drive knocking over the bag of baseballs next to Kevin Costner was sheer luck off the bat of Ray Liotta.
"Shoeless" Joe Jackson remarks about Ty Cobb's desire to play at the Field of Dreams (1989), "None of could stand the son-of-a-bitch when he was alive, so we told him to stick it." In real-life, both players were very close friends. In Jackson's later life, when he ran a liquor store in South Carolina, Cobb stopped there to buy bourbon. During the sale, Jackson made no sign of recognition to Cobb, until Cobb finally said, "For God's sakes, Joe, don't you remember me?" Jackson somberly replied, "Well, sure, I remember you, Ty. I just didn't think anyone wanted to remember me anymore."
Burt Lancaster was unaware that Timothy Busfield was part of the cast, and had him fetching water and chairs, before realizing Busfield was going to be in the scene with him.
You can enter the following in Google Maps - 42°29'51.8"N 91°03'18.4"W - for the location of the field built for the film.
The movie's line "If you build it, he will come." was voted as the #39 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).
According to supplementary material on the DVD, shortly before shooting began, Dwier Brown (John Kinsella) was notified that his father unfortunately passed away. Immediately after the funeral, he traveled directly from the funeral to filming in Iowa for the scene. He stated that although the emotion was too fresh and painful, it had an effect on how he eventually played his scene with Kevin Costner.
Then unknown, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are among the thousands of extras in the Fenway Park scene, and are uncredited. Over a decade later, when Phil Alden Robinson welcomed Affleck to the set of The Sum of All Fears (2002), Affleck said, "Nice working with you again." Robinson asked, "What do you mean 'again'?" and Affleck explained the connection.
Amy Madigan was offered a job as a bartender at a local bar during filming. The owner did not know Madigan was an actress.
Thousands of pallets of green grass were brought in to make the baseball field, but due to the haste in planting because of the shooting schedule, the grass was not able to grow appropriately and died. In order to keep the grass green, the production crew painted the grass.
Ray Liotta had no baseball experience, and batted right-handed, although "Shoeless" Joe Jackson was a leftie. Phil Alden Robinson allowed Liotta to bat with his right, but still put him through several weeks of extensive training with University of Southern California baseball coach, and former Brooklyn Dodger, Rod Dedeaux, in order to be convincing as one of the sport's greatest hitters. Liotta eventually developed a good swing. The scene where he hits a line-drive straight back at Kevin Costner actually happened. Costner's fall on the mound was real, and although it was a surprise, he stayed in character.
There was an actual Archibald "Moonlight" Graham. The scene where Terrence Mann is interviewing the men in the bar, were people who knew the real "Doc" Graham. They found out about the movie and the inclusion of "Doc" Graham's character. They drove from Chisholm, Minnesota to Iowa. The stories the men shared, were actual stories about "Doc" Graham.
In the novel, instead of seeking fictional author Terrance Mann, Ray Kinsella seeks real-life 60s author J.D. Salinger. In 1947, Salinger wrote a story called "A Young Girl In 1941 With No Waist At All" featuring a character named Ray Kinsella, and in his most famous work, the novel "The Catcher in the Rye", one of Holden Caulfield's classmates is Richard Kinsella. (In the original novel, Ray has a twin brother named Richard.)
At first, James Horner was unsure if he could work on the film due to scheduling restrictions. Then he watched a rough cut, and was so moved that he accepted the job of scoring the film.
Archibald "Moonlight" Wright Graham was a real baseball player. On June 29, 1905, with the New York Giants, he played one Major League Baseball game. Following that one game, he continued playing professionally through the 1908 season, mostly in the New York State League, until retiring at the age of thirty.
Ray Liotta bats right-handed and throws left-handed. The real "Shoeless" Joe Jackson batted left-handed and threw right-handed, exactly the opposite of the way he was portrayed. In Eight Men Out (1988), Jackson was portrayed correctly.
The field was constructed over the July 4 weekend, under the direction of the Los Angeles Dodgers' groundskeeper.
In 1991, Hawaii's House of Representatives filed House Resolution 95 to plead the case for "Shoeless" Joe Jackson's reinstatement. Among the reasons given, was a quote given by James Earl Jones's character in the movie that "grasps the essence of an American tradition, baseball." Among those receiving a copy of the House Resolution were Phil Alden Robinson, Charles Gordon and Lawrence Gordon (Field of Dreams producers), and cast members Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, and James Earl Jones.
James Earl Jones said that he had J.D. Salinger in mind, and worked hard to translate him into the black journalist character.
When Ray asks "Shoeless" Joe Jackson what he likes about about playing baseball, Joe responds "the thrill of the grass", the title of W.P. Kinsella's 1985 book of short stories about baseball.
Although his character delivers the movie's signature speech praising baseball, in real-life, James Earl Jones hates baseball. Despite this, he would play another baseball enthusiast, four years later in The Sandlot (1993).
Tom Hanks was originally offered the role of Ray Kinsella, but turned it down.
During filming, Iowa was in the middle of a drought, and the cornfields surrounding the diamond had to be given lots of extra water in order to grow tall enough for the actors to disappear into the stalks. As a result, the corn grew too fast for the Costner shots. In the one scene where corn is above his shoulders, he is walking on an elevated plank.
Burt Lancaster originally turned down the part of "Doc" Graham, but changed his mind after a friend, who was also a baseball fan, told Lancaster that he had to work on the movie.
Phil Alden Robinson had created a temp track which was disliked by Universal executives. When the announcement of James Horner as composer was made, they felt more positive because they expected a big orchestral score, similar to Horner's work for An American Tail (1986). Horner, in contrast, liked the temporary score, finding it "quiet, and kind of ghostly". He decided to follow the idea of the temp track, creating an atmospheric soundtrack which would "focus on the emotions".
J.D. Salinger, on whom the character Terence Mann is based, was very offended by the fictional portrayal of himself in W.P. Kinsella's novel "Shoeless Joe", upon which the film is based. His lawyers said that they would be "unhappy if it (the story) were transferred to other media", so the studio created the character of Terence Mann.
The story depended on the farm having row after row of high corn, but when shooting was set to begin, the crop was stunted, due to the worst drought in Iowa since the Dustbowl. Three weeks before shooting was scheduled for the fields, the company spent twenty-five thousand dollars to truck in water from the Mississippi River, to help the corn grow. As a hedge against that possibly failing, Production Designer Dennis Gassner ordered fifty thousand silk corn stalks from South Korea, but it turned out not to be necessary, as the crop began to grow in time. Charles Gordon later related how the production, and farm owner Lansing, became unpopular among the locals, whose own crops were suffering in the drought.
At some point during principal photography, Phil Alden Robinson began to lose confidence in his ability to tell the story effectively. He dreamed angry fans of the book were coming at him with knives. Larry Gordon had to call him with a pep talk, telling him his script was great, and that he just needed to trust it, and shoot what he had written.
The owners of the site of the baseball field in Iowa, cancelled their 20th Anniversary event, due to the economic downturn, and donated the money raised for it to a local food bank.
W.P. Kinsella, author of the original novel, was asked to write a review of the movie for a Canadian periodical. He gave it four stars out of five for two reasons: he didn't think the character of Mark was villainous enough, and he didn't think that Gaby Hoffmann (Karin) looked like she could be Kevin Costner and Amy Madigan's child.
The Cracker Jack baseball cards shown in the beginning of the film, are based on real baseball cards produced in 1914 and 1915. However, the actual set does not include cards of Babe Ruth, or Lou Gehrig. There is, however, a "Shoeless" Joe Jackson card very similar to the Jackson card shown in the film, which has become very popular with collectors, since the film's release.
The famous line "If you build it, he will come" was featured in a Daily Telegraph (UK) article on the ten most misquoted film phrases. It's often misquoted as "If you build it, they will come".
Several deleted scenes, include Ray getting his hearing checked, Ray buying baseball equipment, Ray getting lost on the way to Fenway with Terrence, and Ray and Terrence watching batting practice.
The first day of shooting was the town hall scene. Amy Madigan was nervous about screaming in front of such a large group of people the first day.
In W.P. Kinsella's novel, protagonist Ray Kinsella is reunited with his identical twin brother, Richard Kinsella (a subplot that was discarded for the movie).
In real-life, Joe Jackson was a soft spoken, humble Southerner. A far cry from the brash New York accented Ray Liotta. Also, in the film, Jackson claims he couldn't stand Ty Cobb. In real-life, Cobb and Jackson were close friends.
Incorrectly cited as a goof, is when one player turns around and jokingly mimics the witch from The Wizard of Oz (1939) by saying, "I'm melting, I'm melting". The Chicago White Sox players of Black Sox Scandal repute were from 1919, while the movie didn't premiere till 1939. However, the players remember their lives after baseball, since one remarks he hadn't had a cigarette for eighteen years, so they all would have known about the film, unless they died before 1939.
The production scouted more than five hundred farms in Iowa, before finding one near Dyersville that had all the physical qualities they wanted, plus enough isolation to make filming easier.
Except for some weather delays, and other time constraints, production rolled six days a week.
Phil Alden Robinson has said that his greatest regret about this film, is that he never used any African-American baseball players. The use of African-American players might have compromised the historical accuracy of the film, since no African-American players were known to have played Major League baseball between 1884 (Fleet and Welday Walker for the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association, considered a Major League from 1882-1891) and 1947, the year Jackie Robinson broke in with the Brooklyn Dodgers. However, the point was to focus on the plight of African-American ballplayers in that similar era. As much as "Shoeless" Joe was banned from baseball, many African-American players never got a chance, simply because of their race.
Because of the drought, the sod for the field began dying quickly. The Dodgers groundskeeper suggested they do what he did at his stadium, paint the dead grass green.
Kinsella's book was suffused with references to the 1960s, so the Art Director and Set Decorator put 60s relics and images in the house, even though they seemed incongruous with an Iowa farm.
The shooting schedule was very tight, so as soon as the full cornfield scenes were completed, the crop had to be cut down, to begin construction of the baseball field.
James Earl Jones decided to do the film, after his wife read the script, and became mesmerized by Mann's "People will come" speech. Both joked they had concerns that the scene would be cut from the film.
Ranked #6 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Fantasy" in June 2008.
Karin's (Gaby Hoffmann's) line "They'll come to Iowa City. They'll think it's really boring." is a reference to the original "Shoeless Joe" novel. In the book, the Kinsella farm was located near Iowa City, Iowa, and J.D. Salinger's monologue (similar to Terence Mann's) included ideas about people touring Iowa City before coming to the farm. In the film, the closest major city to the farm is Dubuque, Iowa.
Phil Alden Robinson and the producers did not originally consider Kevin Costner for the part of Ray, because they did not think that he would want to follow Bull Durham (1988) with another baseball movie. Costner, however, did end up reading the script, and became interested in the project, stating that he felt the movie would be "this generation's It's a Wonderful Life (1946)". Since Robinson's directorial debut In the Mood (1987) had been a commercial failure, Costner also said that he would help Robinson with the production.
During a lunch with the Iowa Chamber of Commerce, Phil Alden Robinson broached his idea of a final scene in which headlights could be seen for miles along the horizon. The Chamber folks replied that it could be done, and the shooting of the final scene became a community event. The film crew was hidden on the farm, to make sure the aerial shots did not reveal them. Dyersville was then blackened out, and local extras drove their vehicles to the field. In order to give the illusion of movement, the drivers were instructed to continuously switch between their low and high beams.
During the "search for Terry" scene, Ray can be seen driving up Huntington Avenue in Boston, and in fact at one point, he's just a matter of a few blocks from the very site where the very first World Series was played between the Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates in 1903, which were played on what they at that time referred to as the "Huntington Avenue Grounds".
To get the most evocative visuals, Director of Photography John Lindley shot during the "magic hour" as the sun was setting. The term is a misnomer, as the right lighting lasts only about ten to fifteen minutes. Single scenes had to be shot over a period of several days each.
The movie was released a little over six months following Eight Men Out (1988), which portrayed a historical depiction of the 1919 White Sox and World Series scandal. The proximity of the releases generated public awareness and sympathies towards the team's plight. As a result, public sentiment began to grow in favor of seeing Joe Jackson's lifetime ban from Major League Baseball being overturned. At the end of August, 2015, commissioner Rob Manfred stated that he had reviewed the actions of commissioners Commissioner Giamatti and Vincent, judged them to be correct, and had determined that it was not appropriate to re-open the matter.
Shots of the auditorium meeting at Western Dubuque were filmed during school hours. Within that time, students were getting noisy, causing multiple re-shoots. Finally, after numerous takes, executives came in the classrooms and yelled to keep it down.
Although Terence Mann ends up admitting that he heard and saw the images at Fenway Park, there is a subtle hint that he was aware of what was going on during the game. If you pay close attention to Mann, he suddenly stiffens up when Ray hears the voice say "Go the distance". He then leans forward in his seat, when the scoreboard lights up with "Moonlight" Graham's stats.
When they hold up the Terence Mann book, that is going to be banned in the school auditorium, it has the same cover design as the first edition of Jack Kerouac's 1957 novel "On the Road".
Phil Alden Robinson had originally envisioned "Shoeless" Joe Jackson as being played by an actor in his 40s, someone who would be older than Kevin Costner, and who could thereby act as a father surrogate. Ray Liotta did not fit that criteria, but Robinson thought he would be a better fit for the part, because Liotta had the "sense of danger" and ambiguity, which Robinson wanted in the character.
James Earl Jones, Timothy Busfield, and Lee Garlington would all reunite for Phil Alden Robinson's next movie, Sneakers (1992).
When "Shoeless" Joe Jackson asks about the lights at the ball field, Ray comments that every ballpark had them, adding "Even Wrigley". Wrigley Field had famously been the only Major League stadium without lights, not adding them until August 1988, a few months prior to the films release. In the original novel, Ray told Jackson that every ballpark except for Wrigley had lights.
Gaby Hoffmann's first feature film performance.
Anne Seymour's last film.
Don Lansing, the owner of the property chosen, agreed to let the production reconfigure his house and open it up inside to accommodate cameras and equipment. He was paid twelve thousand for his consent. An air conditioning system was installed, a porch built, and the floors levelled.
For the final shot of the film, the local Dyersville Police Department was required to direct traffic for four hours from a wide spread of six miles after the aerial shots were complete.
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The aerial shot near the end showing cars lined up coming to the field required a complete blackout of the town. About fifteen hundred locals were enlisted. The number of cars, however, brought the traffic almost to a standstill. Drivers were instructed to flash their brights on and off to create the illusion of movement.
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The shooting schedule was built around Kevin Costner's availability, because he would be leaving in August 1988 to film Revenge (1990).
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Sheila McCarthy and Reba McEntire auditioned for the part of Annie.
Phil Alden Robinson wanted to cast James Stewart as "Moonlight" Graham, but Stewart had not acted on-screen for almost a decade at that point. One scene shows Karin watching the James Stewart movie Harvey (1950) on television.
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The corn grew so fast, that it became taller than Kevin Costner. Boxes had to be laid out in the field, so he could walk between the rows of corn, and still be seen by the camera.
The Voice is credited simply as "Himself", and the identity of the actor who provided it remains unknown. W.P. Kinsella said he believes the voice was Ed Harris, the real-life husband of Amy Madigan. Others have speculated the voice was performed by Ray Liotta, Timothy Busfield, or Kevin Costner.
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Shoeless Joe says it's hard to see the ball because of the lights when he first meets Ray. Ray explains that owners put lights in so that night games could be played and the teams could make more money. Shoeless Joe replies, "owners" with a disgusted dismissive tone. The background story of the 1919 White Sox scandal is that the owner was cheap and didn't pay the players what he'd promised them. As a result they accepted bribes from prominent gamblers to throw the series. In any reality, it is well documented that the 1919 White Sox players despised the owner, making Shoeless Joe's scoff at owners putting lights on the field meaningful.
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The article, the Chisholm newspaper publisher shows to Ray and Terence, was written by Veda Ponikvar. Ms. Ponikvar was a long-time writer (and eventually Editor-in-Chief) for the Chisholm Free Press.
When Ray is in the feed store, and is being teased by the other farmers, and they're asking him about hearing voices, the song "Crazy" can be heard playing on the radio.
Although "Shoeless" Joe Jackson was a left-handed hitter, producers decided to let Ray Liotta bat from his natural right-handed side. Liotta often had people point out the inaccuracy to him, to which he would respond "None of the players ever came back to life either."
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Preview test audiences did not take well to the original title (taken directly from the book), "Shoeless Joe", saying it sounded like a film about a homeless person. The studio decided to change it to Field of Dreams, which Phil Alden Robinson opposed, until he called W.P. Kinsella with the news. Kinsella said the change was fine with him, because he originally wanted to call his book "Dream Field", but was overruled by his publisher.
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Kevin Costner and Burt Lancaster have played Wyatt Earp. Costner in Wyatt Earp (1994), and Lancaster in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957).
The real-life Archie Graham was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, the second of ten children. He played baseball at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was also a member of the Dialectic Society, a debating organization. His brother, Frank Porter Graham, was President of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and was later a U.S. Senator.
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Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
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The only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year not to be nominated for Best Actor, or in either of the lead acting categories, or in any acting category.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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After the PTA meeting, when Ray and Annie crash into the lockers, they are not exiting from the gym, in which they were originally. They exit from the women's restroom at the school. There is not an exit from the gym that you could possibly crash into lockers. But, this point is moot, because the school in the story is fictional.
According to Phil Alden Robinson, Kevin Costner was the studio's first choice for the part of Ray, but having just starred in Bull Durham (1988), they didn't think he'd want to be in a second straight baseball movie. Ultimately, one studio executive slipped a script to Costner, who immediately expressed interest in the film.
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In September 1997, this film was shown on television, instead of Lethal Weapon 3 (1992), following the passing of Princess Diana.
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The movie was named as one of "The 20 Most Overrated Movies of All Time" by Premiere.
It is the only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year not to win any Academy Awards.
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Ray Liotta has never actually seen the completed movie. At the time of filming, his mother was in ailing health, which negatively effected his experience in making the film.
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Gaby Hoffmann appeared in two films with James Horner music. The second being The Man Without a Face (1993).
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Dwier Brown plays Ray Kinsella's father John. Brown is four years younger than Kevin Costner, which doesn't matter, since John is appearing as his younger self.
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One of two films released in 1989, that star Gaby Hoffman and she has a co-star with the surname Brown. In this film it's Dwier Brown. The other film is Uncle Buck, in which Hoffmann co-stars with Garrett M. Brown.
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Bull Durham (1988), also about baseball, co-stars Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon, who have both co-starred with Burt Lancaster. Costner in this film, and Sarandon in Atlantic City (1980).
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The scenes that took place in Chisholm, MN, were actually filmed in Galena, IL which is about a 30 minute drive from the farm where the baseball field was constructed.
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The actual loaction is 28995 Lansing Rd. Dyersville, IA and they are open from 9am to 6pm daily.
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As Ray is taking Terence back to his apartment, in the reflection of the van's windshield, the word "Books" passes by. This is fitting, considering that Terence Mann is a writer.
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W.P. Kinsella and his wife are part of the audience at the PTA meeting scene, though they can't be seen.
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When, at the dinner table, Ray first mentions the baseball field and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, the music in the background is "Daydream" by The Lovin' Spoonful. The singer is John Sebastian, who is best known for his performance at Woodstock, and in the film Woodstock (1970), and later, the theme to Welcome Back, Kotter (1975). He would have been a big part of Ray and Annie's sixties experience.
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The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The final shot of the film was a big community event, enlisting fifteen hundred volunteers to drive for the last shot. For only a brief time, could the headlights, and also the blue of the sky be shown in one shot. The first take was too bright. On the second shot the lighting was perfect, but the camera f-stop was messed up. Just before the final shot, Phil Alden Robinson realized that as with any heavy traffic, most of the cars weren't moving. They would just look like lights on posts. He relayed a quick instruction through the local radio station: flash your high beams on and off. Though the cars are not moving, this simulated the appearance of lights passing behind obstructions to perfect effect.
The line, "Hey, Dad, you wanna have a catch?" originally didn't include "Dad". Audiences were disappointed in the lack of acknowledgment of father and son, and the word "Dad" was looped in during post-production.
When Ray's brother-in-law yells at him, "Ray, do you know how much this land is worth?" and he responds, "Yeah, twenty-two hundred bucks an acre," the exchange is supposed to connote that the baseball field represents a large, intolerable financial loss. Actually, a baseball field is about two acres in size, which, even if it had generous proportions, meaning that Ray was losing no more than five thousand dollars from maintaining his "Field of Dreams".
Phil Alden Robinson wanted very little said between Ray Kinsella's character and his father's ghost in the last scene. He originally wrote and shot it to have Ray catch himself as he was about to introduce the ghost of his father to his wife. Preview audiences were either confused about who the character was, or thought Ray was cruel for not acknowledging their relationship. Robinson added the line, "Hey Dad, you wanna have a catch?" It tested very well.
According to Kevin Costner, due to it needing to be filmed at twilight, there was a limited window of time to film the closing scenes. The scene of Ray playing catch with his father had to be done in one take, and Costner said he felt under pressure not to drop or muff any catches, which would delay or ruin the scene. Costner added that while making the scene he faced directly against the helicopter used to film the ascending and overhead views of the field and surrounding roads to close the movie, creating a further challenge and distraction for him.
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