Eight Men Out

1 h 59 min1988PG
HD. The story of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox baseball scandal when eight ballplayers took money to throw the World Series.
John Sayles
John CusackClifton JamesMichael Lerner
English [CC]
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Supporting actors
Christopher LloydCharlie SheenDavid StrathairnD.B. Sweeney
Midge Sanford
PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
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4.6 out of 5 stars

846 global ratings

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  2. 16% of reviews have 4 stars
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  4. 1% of reviews have 2 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

KiwiwriterReviewed in the United States on April 25, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
A terrific movie about baseball's most shocking scandal
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Full disclosure: my great-uncle helped rig the 1919 World Series. However, he is not portrayed in the film. And I am on the Society for American Baseball Research's 1919 World Series Committee.

The film is fairly faithful to Eliot Asinof's groundbreaking book on the 1919 series fix, which is well-written, conveys a great deal of the color of the era, and gets a good deal of facts wrong, being the first book on the subject.

With those limitations (and a slender budget and run time), John Sayles brought the energy of post World War I America to life, re-created the World Series with an outstanding ensemble cast (Charlie Sheen, D.B. Sweeney, John Cusack, David Strathairn), and caught many of the social issues of the day (Prohibition, labor unrest, business and political corruption, even racism). The script is brilliant and makes the overlapping plotlines coherent, and the sound effects, editing, and music, make things work, too.

After I saw the film when it came out in 1988, I wished my grandfather, a huge baseball fan, who was an adult at the time -- and not involved with his older brother's nefarious work -- could see it with me, so I could ask him about the details: clothes, buildings, behavior, and so forth.

It's just one of my favorite films.

However, I wouldn't have a chance to ask my great-uncle about the accuracy of this film. He got whacked by Arnold Rothstein in 1925 or 1926. He is forever a cornerstone in the infrastructure of New York. He's holding up the Hellgate Bridge.
12 people found this helpful
Allen JacksonReviewed in the United States on December 5, 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars
Finest Blu-ray picture quality I've ever seen--outstanding! Highly recommended Blu-ray. Superb retelling of infamous scandal.
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Simply outstanding Blu-ray rendition of probably the finest baseball movie ever made. I rank it ahead of even " 61* ", "A League of Their Own," and "Pride of the Yankees," the latter being a fine film about Lou Gehrig but weak in the baseball parts.

"Eight Men Out" is a period piece about the infamous fixing of the 1919 World Series by eight Chicago White Sox players, who did it with varying degrees of enthusiasm and reluctance, in cooperation with big-time gamblers who had approached them. This movie is based on the excellent 1963 Eliot Asinof book of the same name. The screenplay was written 11 years before this 1988 film was made, by director/writer John Sayles, who wrote a screenplay faithful to the true story. The resulting film is excellent at retelling the full story of how the 1919 "Black Sox" threw the World Series, as well as taking us back, quite well, to this era that opened the Roaring '20s. (This scandal damaged baseball hugely, and as I recall from my baseball research as a kid, Major League baseball came back primarily with the developing fame of a young Babe Ruth within a couple of years.) This film is true to the clothes, language, and cars of the times, generally, and also spends sufficient time on the all-important post-World Series discovery of the conspiracy, the hiring of well known Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis to investigate and pass judgment on this matter as the new lifetime Commissioner of Baseball, and takes us through that famous series of concluding events that resulted in lifetime bans from baseball for the eight players. (As I recall from my own childhood research, nobody got any "commutation of sentence" later on, either-- they were out for the rest of their lives as it turned out.)

The film also contains scenes showing how different groups of the conspiring gamblers were double-crossing ONE ANOTHER as well as the players they were conspiring with. An interesting side element of which I had been previously unaware.

The cast is absolutely top-drawer, including Charlie Sheen, D.B. Sweeney (both of whom were already good high school and college baseball players, respectively, in real life), John Cusack, Michael Lerner, David Strathairn, Christopher Lloyd, Clifton James, Michael Rooker, John Mahoney, Studs Terkel, and several other fine actors.

As to the blu-ray picture quality--FANTASTIC! Looks absolutely PERFECT, ultra-sharp, with beautiful colors, clean and unflawed--this has just the most beautiful picture quality by far of any movie from the 1980s (or 1990s!) that I've ever seen, and I own a few hundred blu-rays. There is thankfully no phony grain added, it's just a very sharp, very clean picture. I had seen a beautiful print of this great film not long ago on the MGM-HD Channel, and was hoping the eventual Blu-ray would be as good-- and not adding in phony grain to degrade the picture quality, which these small Blu-ray production houses tend to do. But, this Blu-ray turned out even slightly BETTER than that excellent MGM-HD Channel presentation. I also have the DVD, and this Blu-ray's picture quality is far better, as one would have hoped.

There is also an extremely good "making of" documentary from the 2007 DVD included on the Blu-ray, about an hour long, primarily with director-writer John Sayles, also actor D.B. Sweeney (who played Shoeless Joe Jackson), and, to a lesser extent, a couple of other actors in the film. This documentary is extremely informative about the movie-making aspects of this film from the development stages, also including interesting discussions of the training in baseball of the actors, and why doing the baseball parts very well was important to the filmmakers. The other extra is a good trailer, also in very sharp picture-quality. Oddly, there are no subtitles available, not even in English.

Olive Films has produced the nicest Blu-ray of theirs that I've ever seen, most especially in regard to the spectacular Blu-ray picture quality, which is superior to that of virtually any other Blu-ray I've seen out of 300+ Blu-rays-- and without a doubt vs. 1980s and 1990s films on Blu-ray.

Highly recommended Blu-ray release!
27 people found this helpful
Mike TarraniReviewed in the United States on July 10, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Closely follows historical events; a John Sayles masterpiece
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I purchased my first copy of this DVD in January 2009 , and due to a scratch on the disc purchased another copy in October 2019. That underscores just how valuable the film is to me. While I am not necessarily a baseball (or any sports fan), I am a history buff and this piqued my interest.

Story line aside, I am a dyed-in-the-wool John Sayles fan, and although this is one of his earlier works, his writing and directing are as distinctive and recognizable as are those in every one of his films. He also has a role in this film (as Ring Lardner), which is another feature of most of his movies.

One of the things that keeps drawing me back to rewatching this movie for the umpteenth time is how the era is captured. I felt as though I was peering through a time machine back to 1919. The scenes were like old photos from the era, and even the vernacular was true to the era. Of course, there is a certain rhythm to Sayles' writing regardless of the story, and while the words spoken by the actors may be a bit archaic, the cadence is pure Sayles.

The cast, more than a few of whom show up in other Sayles films, were believable. I won't single anyone out for particularly convincing performances because it would take up a few more paragraphs. I will say that having Studs Terkle, cast as Hugh Fullerton who uncovered the 1919 scandal, was a great tough. Terkle was seven years old when the events depicted took place, so remembered the era and events.

If you love history, and especially if you want to be treated to the 1919 scandal in a fairly accurate manner with all the backstory and nuances included, this is a worthwhile film.
One person found this helpful
ChrisSherrillReviewed in the United States on June 21, 2020
3.0 out of 5 stars
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As a lifelong fan of baseball, I think “Eight Men Out” is a good movie. It isn’t great but it’s a sampler, you might say, for anyone interested in the early years of baseball. If you want a real introduction to baseball, of course, you can’t do better, IMO, than Ken Burns’ series. Anyway, this can’t be called a great movie because it leaves too much unexamined material. There is no depth to any of the participants, and it is too easy to paint the owners and gamblers and the only bad guys, but each player involved made a decision to take money to fix the games. In each case, it boils down to greed. They were not good guys duped by bad guys. One feels sympathy, for example, for Shoeless Joe Jackson but though he was illiterate, he was not the witless clown portrayed in this film. To be fair to the film, however, there was just too much material for all of it to get the examination it deserved.
One person found this helpful
Jeremy L. DubrulReviewed in the United States on June 25, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Y'all Talk About "The Brat Pack"...
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Like any "Brat Pack" movie or other "up and commer film" this lent itself to... 'And WHOM are you STILL Watching in 2020?"

This is a TIGHT and FOCUSED film, based on HISTORY and relentlessly SACRIFICED itself to what it knew and what it could represent. John Sayles is an UNDER appreciated talent.

Something like this FILM as well as: RAN, from Akira Kurosawa and The Right Stuff , Tom Wolff are films that really FOCUS on a START and an OUTCOME. Done AMAZINGLY and i can watch these films over and over again.
2 people found this helpful
John S HarrisReviewed in the United States on January 13, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent Blu-ray treatment of a very satisfying and enjoyable film.
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The Blu-ray transfer is a marked step up from the DVD transfer, which itself wasn't too bad. This Blu-ray also comes with a documentary feature and a director's commentary track, which I highly recommend. Writer/director John Sayles (who also acts in the film) managed to distill the salient points of the Black Sox scandal into a very entertaining sports film in which the actors move like real ball players and the off-the-field drama is even more engrossing than the ball games themselves. Sayles compresses time just a bit here by making the 1921 appointment of a baseball commissioner seem like it followed the 1919 World Series almost immediately. But that's a minor quibble.

Charlie Sheen gets the artwork cover all to himself in this Blu-ray version, but this is definitely an ensemble film. Eagle-eyed viewers of this 1988 film will spot future cast members of "The Wire", "NYPD Blue", and "The Firm", and even one future member of The Flying Karamazov Brothers.

This is basically the Blu-ray edition of the 2008 20th Anniversary DVD release. Those of you who, like me, were only familiar with the earlier DVD release (with zero special features) should be quite pleased with the improved picture quality and "new" goodies.
10 people found this helpful
Annie Van AukenReviewed in the United States on December 31, 2014
5.0 out of 5 stars
"Fortune's coming my way, that's why I don't care. I'm forever blowing ballgames and the gamblers treat us fair." - Ring Lardner
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It's understood that movies based on actual events take liberties with facts, but sometimes the distortions for the sake of dramatic license are so egregious something needs to be said. [[ASIN:B0010YSD90 EIGHT MEN OUT]] (1988) is a perfect example of too much recasting of history, and it's worth noting the storytelling began with [[ASIN:0805065377 Eliot Asinof's book of the same name]].

For just one example, the disgruntled players never schemed to throw the World Series after their bonus for winning the American League pennant turned out to be a few cases of flat champagne. Another is the notion that Joe Jackson's signature was an "X". True he was barely literate, but Shoeless Joe was able to sign his name.

The movie's epilogue has 3rd baseman Buck Weaver fighting every year to clear himself. True enough. But he did sit in conference with the conspirators and may not have tried to inform club owner Charles Comiskey. Jackson however DID go to "Commie" and was denied an audience, plus he was never at any of the meetings. Joe also twice refused the 5K payoff held by Swede Risberg, who finally just threw the cash on the floor. His World Series stats are exceptionally good, so if Joe was in on the "fix" you can't tell from the offensive figures. Jackson also fought tenaciously for absolution that was perennially denied, undoubtedly due to Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, a stubborn old man of fixed opinions.

BTW, no little kid ever whined "Say it ain't so, Joe, say it ain't so!"

Finally, during the Black Sox trial, Buck Weaver tells a concerned boy that he'll still be playing ball next year. Yet we're led to believe the news stories, grand jury hearings and trial all happened post-1919 season. In reality the ultimately condemned men played throughout 1920.

But as for entertainment. EIGHT MEN OUT is a terrific piece of semi-fiction with an outstanding cast that includes the film's director, John Sayles, who bears a close resemblance to his character, Chicago Trib sportswriter Ring Lardner. Definitely a film for all who are interested in early 20th Century history, and of course, baseball fans.
10 people found this helpful
Barnacle MarkReviewed in the United States on July 6, 2020
3.0 out of 5 stars
Hard to Suspend Disbelief
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The acting and directing is very dated and relies heavily on top 80's character actors. It's hard to get into the story when you have to keep reminding yourself that the movie is trying to tell a story instead of watching Charlie Sheen be Charlie Sheen in a Black Sox uniform, John Cusack be John Cusack in a Black Sox uniform, or Christopher Lloyd be Christopher Lloyd as a a crooked sh*theel.
One person found this helpful
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