Guide to Baseball Films: The 1980s
- Bull Durham. (1988) Dir. Ron Shelton. A pitching prospect is steered through his first professional season by Annie, priestess of the Religion of Baseball, and by a veteran minor-league catcher.
Highly-regarded, unpretentious comedy featuring a key performance by Tim Robbins as the pitching phenom.
- Eight Men Out. (1988) Dir John Sayles. The 1919 White Sox throw the World Series.
Elaborate, skillful rendition of Eliot Asinof's non-fiction book on the subject. The film is notable for John Cusack's performance as Buck Weaver, but it tells the story from multiple perspectives and uses an ensemble cast.
- Field of Dreams. (1989) Dir. Phil Alden Robinson. A 1960s radical, turned 1980s Iowa farmer, builds a baseball diamond in his cornfield in response to unseen voices suggesting various cryptic things.
From W. P. Kinsella's novel Shoeless Joe, this film plays up the more maudlin elements of the story and downplays some of its weirder magic. It is beautifully filmed by John Lindley.
- Long Gone. (1987) Dir. Martin Davidson. Various raunchy hijinks on a Florida minor-league club in the 1950s.
Film (for HBO television) of the novel by Paul Hemphill. Despite an agreeable central performance by William L. Petersen as the player-manager, this one is merely watchable, not very interesting or engaging.
- Major League. (1989) Dir. David S. Ward. The owner of the Indians stocks the club with misfits so that it will fail; the misfits have a different idea.
Quite ordinary comedy with predictable outcome; well-acted by the ensemble cast and notably well-edited. Touched off a series of sequels.
- The Natural. (1984) Dir. Barry Levinson. A great baseball prospect is shot by a mysterious woman; years later, he comes back to lead a hapless ballclub to a pennant, but is shadowed by his own past.
Enjoyable if rather slow-moving adaptation of Bernard Malamud's novel; the ending is changed from sardonic tragedy to upbeat feel-good resolution, in keeping with the film's Reagan-era context. See Ruth Tarson's meditation.
- Stealing Home. (1988) Dir. Steven Kampmann and Will Aldis. An ex-ballplayer returns home when he learns that he has been entrusted with a childhood friend's ashes.
A meandering film that sometimes loses track of its own plot altogether, this picture uses few baseball elements aside from the title metaphor and a few key scenes.