85 of 89 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The tragic story of Buck Weaver and the Black Sox scandal
Every time I watch "Eight Men Out" I am not really sure how I stand on the question of whether or not "Shoeless" Joe Jackson should be in the Hall of Fame, but the film certainly reaffirms my long held belief that justice might best be served if Charlie Comisky was kicked out of the shrine of baseball immortals. It is useful to remember that the team...
Published on March 25, 2001 by Lawrance M. Bernabo
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great cast, but a bit uninvolving
EIGHT MEN OUT chronicles the 1919 scandal involving the World Series being thrown by the Chicago White Sox (the team would subsequently be snidely nicknamed the Black Sox by disgruntled baseball fans). The movie takes its time spinning the story and accords quite a bit of time to making the case for why the White Sox players would engage in this behavior. Making the...
Published on August 25, 2002 by Westley
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85 of 89 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The tragic story of Buck Weaver and the Black Sox scandal,
Every time I watch "Eight Men Out" I am not really sure how I stand on the question of whether or not "Shoeless" Joe Jackson should be in the Hall of Fame, but the film certainly reaffirms my long held belief that justice might best be served if Charlie Comisky was kicked out of the shrine of baseball immortals. It is useful to remember that the team was already known as the Black Sox before the 1919 World Series because they refused to pay for their own laundry when Comisky decided there were additional nickels to be made from cutting that particular corner. What Comisky did to create an environment on his team that gamblers were able to exploit is amply set up. Even before the gamblers double-cross the boys and have to take extra steps to ensure the outcome of the series against the Reds, it is Comisky's arrogant dictatorship that makes us look with some measure of sympathy towards the Black Sox. Director John Sayles, who takes a turn as sportswriter Ring Lardner singing "I'm Forever Throwing Ball Games" on the train carrying the team, this 1988 film certainly gets the most out of its limited budget. Based on Eliot Asniof's book, which is a very detailed account of the entire scandal, the film focuses on the eight men who, for various reasons, ended up throwing away their reputations and their careers. The details on the scandal are in the book; Sayle's film focuses on the basic elements are the moral ambiguities of a complex chain of human actions.
Certainly the tragic figure in "Eight Men Out" is not Jackson (D.B. Sweeney), who certainly receives his biggest cinematic boost from "Field of Dreams," but rather Buck Weaver (John Cusack). Weaver's sin was that he failed to rat out his teammates once he knew there was talk of a fix. Judge Kenisaw Mountain Landis, a necessary evil as the game's first commissioner, needed to scrap out the cancer of this scandal even if it meant cutting to the bone. That meant that Weaver, who was the third baseman on Ty Cobb's all-time team, suffers the same banishment for life from the game he loves as those who took payments to throw the World Series. Weaver's nobility is further enhanced in the film because he is the one who has time for the kids in the sandlot and who believes that the lessons he learned as a boy playing the game still apply not only to baseball but also to life. Jackson is something of a cipher in the film, more legend than flesh and blood human being. Consequently, Weaver's character stands in contrast to Chick Gandil (Michael Rooker), the limited "brains" behind the scandal and Eddie Cicotte (David Strathairn), the star most wronged by Comisky the skinflint. Even at the end of the film, when we see "Shoeless" Joe on a semi-pro field playing under an assumed name, it is Weaver who offers the film's benediction from the stands and Weaver who emerges as the most sympathetic figure. If you get to vote for anyone to be in the Hall of Fame from the Black Sox, Bucky would be your man. But neither Weaver nor Jackson is in Cooperstown and there is a second ballpark on the Southside of Chicago named for the true villain of the story.
45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully flavored baseball movie,
What a fun movie! This film is a depiction of the 1919 Chicago WhiteSox who are alleged to have "fixed" the World Series that year against the Reds.
Here's what I loved about the film. The portrayal of Charlie Comisky, the White Sox owner is outstanding. I found myself quickly siding with the players from the outset and bristling at his obviously unethical and cheap approach. The time period depicted has a great "feel" to it. The baseball scenes are excellent and have a realistic feel as well. John Cusak and DB Sweeney are excellent as Buck Weaver and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson.
The portrayal of the newly appointed commisioner Kennisaw Mountain Landis is also excellent. After watching this film you will better understand the current situation with Pete Rose, and where his expulsion from baseball originates. If you are at all a baseball fan you will enjoy the film.
My only criticism is that too much film time is spent of the gangsters and the announcers. That was a little tedious, and limited the further character development of the players, the depiction of the game, the owners, and the era.
I recommend this film though easily to any baseball fan.
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EIGHT MEN OUT Let's the film goer Inside...,
By A Customer
John Sayles' labor of love about Baseball's original sin is a great piece of filmmaking. Using an ensemble cast (with John Cusack, Charlie Sheen, D.B. Sweeny, and Richard Strathairn), a host of veteran character actors ( including Kevin Tighe, Christopher Lloyed, Clifton James, John Mahoney, Michael Lerner and John Anderson), and a few surprises (John Sayles himself and writer Studs Terkel as sports reporters) Sayles has recreated and retold with great detail the "Black Sox" Baseball World Series scandal of 1919 in which players were payed by gamblers and con men to throw the series. Not only is the film a great baseball movie, it is a great period piece capturing the gambling lifestyle of the era. Also it gives filmgoers a view of the business of baseball long before the advent of free agency when the owners (and even gamblers) ruled the game and the players were pieces of property making a common man's wage struggling to make that extra dollar. This is probably one of the best Baseball films ever made and any baseball purist should have seen this movie. Standout performances by John Cusack as Buck Weaver and D.B. Sweeny as Shoeless Joe Jackson. The ensemble cast making up the White Sox team is authenticated by having the actors actually play baseball. Overall,historical,informative and entertaining.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Baseball in 1919 and the tainted World Series of that year,
This 1988 film, directed by John Sayles, has a lot going for it. It's a dramatization of the underpaid Chicago White Sox who took bribes to throw the 1919 World Series. It's historically significant as a real event that happened and it's also the story of baseball and what it was like in that era. John Cusak is cast in the role of Buck Weaver, a ballplayer who doesn't want to participate but keeps quiet nevertheless. The other actors are less familiar to me.
The owner of the team, Charlie Cominsky, was a difficult man to work for. When his team won the pennant he gave them flat champagne instead of the $10,000 bonuses he promised them. And because he had promised a pitcher a bonus for winning 30 games, he purposely benched him so that the pitcher could win no more than 29. Salary was $6,000 per year and they had to do their own laundry. This was a team that was ripe for exploitation by the gambling interests at the time. Arnold Rothstein, the famous gambling tsar, manipulates everybody, but his role gives some insight into his character. And Ring Lardner and John Sayles himself play sportswriters. I was confused by the ballplayers though. Perhaps if I was familiar with this particular 1919 team I would have been able to recognize them, but they looked alike and all blended together in my mind.
The best part of the film was the historical detail. There was no radio or television then. So if you weren't in the ballpark, you had to go to a gambling parlor where a gentleman with a stuffy accent read the play-by-play from tickertape. There was a large baseball diamond on the wall and another man would chart out the game as it was read from the tickertape. The acting was good, the moral dilemmas clear. The players wound up double-crossed by the gamblers and then put on trial. All this was fascinating. Especially since it was true. However, the film just misses getting a high recommendation from me because of my confusion about the ballplayers. But if you don't particularly care who was who and want to relive a small piece of American history, you'll like this video, especially if you're a baseball fan.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Field of stolen dreams,
This saga, based on the Eliot Asinof book about the scandal involving eight Chicago White Sox players who sold the 1919 World Series is quite simply the best baseball movie ever made.
Everything clicks, starting with a blue-sky-and-white-clouds ragtime score that accompanies the opening credits, speeding up to follow the two Chicago urchins who run through the South Side to see the pennant-clinching ballgame at Comiskey Park. The older one, Pee Wee, is a newsboy who earned the money for the tickets by hawking newspapers; the younger one, Bucky, wins the audience's heart by the plaintive way in which he announces, "We're going to see the Sox!"
What they witness sets the tone for the rest of the movie. As they make their way to their bleacher seats, two guys sitting in front of them are making book on the outcome. Something causes them and the rest of the crowd to leap to their feet and cheer - the taller adults blocking the view of the smaller boys. And the tone has been set: the adult world, particularly the shadier side of it, will intrude upon their boyish faith in the Sox.
Pee Wee will ultimately approach Shoeless Joe Jackson and plead "Say it ain't so, Joe", though he's too tough and worldly to say it with tears in his eyes, as legend would have it.
The score takes on a more sinister tone when the camera shows two men in dark suits discussing cryptically the approachability of various players. When they focus on ... first baseman Chick Gandil (Michael Rooker), Gandil swings and ticks a ball into the stands, causing the crowd to appropriately yell "Foul!" in an engaging bit of symbolism.
Gandil was indeed one of the ringleaders behind the plot to fix the Series. As the Asinof books points out, it was actually the players who approached the gamblers, but Hollywood can be forgiven for this lapse. As Sleepy Bill Burns (Christopher Lloyd) and Billy Maharg (Richard Edson) scrutinize the players, we are also introduced to Shoeless Joe Jackson (D.B. Sweeney) answering taunts from teammates and fans about his illiteracy the only way he knows how - by whacking a triple. Yes, from the left-hand side of home plate, unlike in "Field of Dreams" which mistakenly portrays him as RIGHT-handed.
There's a wonderful scene in which Shoeless Joe is exercising his batting eye by staring at a candle - one eye at a time - until he temporarily loses his sight. Some mothers might blanch, but his shadier teammates interrupt when they enter and cause him to reluctantly agree to participate in the "fix". Yet remarkably, he then goes back to exercising his batting eye, though this would now appear to be a barren exercise. In fact, though [a lot of money] is delivered to him, the movie doesn't make clear that Jackson might not have lived up to his end of the bargain. He was the leading hitter of the World Series, with a .375 average.
Charlie Sheen's Hap Felsch is surprisingly understated, but John Cusack steals much of the show as third baseman Buck Weaver, who goes along with the fix but finds that his competitive spirit won't allow him to participate in it. The scene in Weaver makes a sensational stop of a ground ball headed for extra bases (which could not have been accomplished with less than his best effort) and pegs a perfect throw to an amazed Gandil (who has no choice but to catch it) is priceless.
And the stark contrast between the Sox's smooth execution of championship baseball on the field, despite sharp divisions in the dugout, is symbolized by the picture-perfect double-play completed by second baseman Eddie Collins (Bill Irwin), shortstop Swede Risberg (Don Harvey) and Gandil. Party animals Gandil and Risberg then jog off the field, verbally scrapping with the straight-living "college boy" Collins about his lack of nightlife.
The only major historical flaw occurs when honest rookie pitcher Dickie Kerr (Jace Alexander) reassures aging manager "Kid" Gleason (John Mahoney) of his integrity by remarking that as a youngster, he saw Gleason throw a no-hitter. As Kerr was born in 1893 and Gleason pitched his last game in 1895, Kerr surely could not retain such a memory.
The villainous gamblers also include Michael Lerner's portrayal of mobster Arnold Rothstein, Michael Mantell's rendition of Rothstein's right-hand man, Abe Attell, and Kevin Tighe's thick Irish-accented Sport Sullivan. But the true villain of the piece is skinflint Sox owner, Charles Comiskey (Clifton James), whose royal treatment of an adoring press contrasts sharply with his stingy treatment of the ballplayers bringing him glory, particularly pitching ace Eddie Cicotte (David Strathairn). The "fix" would not have taken place if it were not for Comiskey's miserliness.
But flawed character is not a bar to Hall of Fame membership, and Comiskey is a member because of his record as a manager and executive. This movie was made in 1988 but is of particular relevance now that Pete Rose seems ready to confess his own association with professional gamblers, in exchange for forgiveness and Hall of Fame membership.
Might it not be time to revisit the issue of Shoeless Joe, who had the third highest lifetime batting average in the history of the game when expelled for his role in the fix at the age of 31? He was STILL getting better, but has also been shut out of the Hall of Fame. Unlike Jackson, Rose is not believed to have staked his fortune AGAINST his team, but Rose is a shrewd man deserving of far less sympathy.
If Comiskey can't be kept OUT of the Hall of Fame, it's still disconcerting that he's a member and Shoeless Joe isn't. The movie's wistful close should make its viewers wonder whether it would be fitting to replace Comiskey's plaque with one made for Shoeless Joe and place Comiskey's plaque in an isolated corner where it is likely to gather dust.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sayles' masterpiece,
It's difficult not to get your personal feelings called into play when watching an obviously slanted film like EIGHT MEN OUT. John Sayles, like Oliver Stone, is an obvious agit-prop master for the left or at least for labor in its battle against owners. But so are several others movie-makers. However, those others do not get the responses that Sayles has evoked because they don't have half the talent that Sayles possesses. There is no fence-sitting when watching his films, and that's because his visions and messages are clear, uncompromising and passionate. EIGHT MEN OUT is one of his highest achievements in those regards.
In his analysis of the rigging of the World Series of 1919, Sayles targets White Sox owner Comiskey as the true villain. And I believe this is accurate, if not justifiable, at the very least. The Black Sox scandal, as it came to be known, was undoubtedly the lowest point in baseball history, but it could have been avoided. Had Comiskey treated his players as they merited, it is doubtful any of it would have come about. This is not to say that these athletes were angelic: Sayles goes to great lengths to show that several of them would be easily corruptible, such as Chick Gandil (played by the underrated Michael Rooker). Other players seem to want to do the right thing, but are pushed too far by Comiskey--specifically, Eddie Cicotte, as portrayed by Sayles' favorite, David Strathairn. The enigmatic Shoeless Joe Jackson (subtly played by D.B. Sweeney) is just plain too dumb to understand the implications of his involvement. As others have noted, Jackson wound up the series' batting leader.
The real moral compass of EIGHT MEN OUT is Buck Weaver, played by John Cusack in what may have been the performance of his career. Sayles' Weaver is portrayed as the victim of the ultimate betrayal for not participating in the scheme. His teammates don't back him up. The courts do not defend him. The press lumps him together with the guilty. His only crime was not being a snitch. And for that, Weaver has basically been relegated to baseball history's limbo, in spite of an above-par career. Sayles does an admirable job in evoking a justified sympathy for Buck Weaver, and Cusack captures it beautifully.
EIGHT MEN OUT is not a mere baseball movie. Like much of Sayles' work, it's a film about greed, and the desire of American owners to extract as much from labor as possible, without giving anything in return.
P.S. -- Sayles does a great job of portraying writer Ring Lardner. I just wish he didn't sing!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of best baseball movies ever,
Without a doubt, this stands as one of the great baseball movies. Unlike "The Natural" or "Field of Dreams", this is a true story- that of the 1919 Chicago White Sox and their plot to throw the World Series spurred on by the miserly ways of their owner Charlie Commiskey. The movie brings to life early 20th century baseball and all of the many actors are very good in their parts. Bringing to life people, events, and an era almost a century old are not easy but it is very well done here.
I think the movie will appeal to non baseball fans also as the film is more concerned with the drama of the characters rather than the "X"s and "O"s of baseball.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleased,
This was a great movie. The story of the 1919 Black Sox Scandal as portrayed by John Sayles was truthful to the real events of that World Series. The cast gave such wonderful performances as players and owners that you can understand how this could happen. You feel bad for the players. When asked about their bonus and they only are given the champagne, you see the hurt in their faces, and it is painful to see. John Cusack and D.B. Sweeney were great as Buck Weaver and Joe Jackson. Their performances showed a great love for the game. Michael Rooker also gave a good performance as Chick Gandil, the ring leader. I love this movie. It is my favorite of all time. I now own the book as well.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five star new edition!,
This review is from: Eight Men Out (20th Anniversary Edition) (DVD)
The new edition is a nice upgrade, since it includes several behind the scenes documentaries which give a lot of background regarding the choice of actors, interviews with the director and actors, and info regarding the sets and filming of the movie. The picture looks very sharp, and the soundtrack is 5.1. If you are a fan of this film, you will find the new edition well worthwhile.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must For Baseball Fans,
In 1919, the Chicago White Sox faced the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. It was supposed to be an easy victory for the White Sox. After all, they had the best team in the league by far that year. What happened in the end has shocked the baseball world ever since. The White Sox threw the world series and let the Reds win. This movie does a wonderful job of telling the story of the White Sox aka "Black Sox" during that fateful year. John Cusack, D.B. Sweeney, and David Strathairn are the stars of the film, playing Buck Weaver, Joe Jackson, and Eddie Cicotte. Charlie Comiskey's infamous penny pinching is shown in the film as Cicotte was due a bonus in his contract for winning 30 games. He ended up winning 29 despite being injured for a time, but Comiskey still didn't give Cicotte his bonus. This had a major influence on Cicotte deciding to help throw the series. Sweeney does an excellent job as Jackson, the sharp hitting illiterate outfielder. He didn't take the bribe and had an excellent series, hitting well over .300. The game scenes are excellent, and the behind the scenes action with the announcers and crooks is well-done as well. In the end, each player was acquitted by a court of law for any wrong-doing, but Commissioner Kenisaw Mountain Landis, regardless of the jury's verdict, still banned the 8 Sox players from ever playing baseball again. The movie ends with Buck Weaver (Cusack) watching an old but still great Jackson (Sweeney) playing in a semi-pro game somewhere in the South. Baseball fans will surely love this excellent movie. I also recommend "61" by Billy Crystal.
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Eight Men Out (20th Anniversary Edition) by John Sayles (DVD - 2008)