John Cusack (Con Air) and Charlie Sheen (Major League) lead a "superb ensemble of actors" (Newsweek) delivering "striking performances" (The New York Times) in this "mesmerizing story" (Los Angeles Times) about the infamou... more »s 1919 Chicago White Sox scandal, certainly one of the saddest chapters in the annals of professional sports. Buck Weaver (Cusack) and Hap Felsch (Sheen) are young idealistic players with the Chicago White Sox, a pennant-winning team owned by Charles Comiskey Â? a penny-pinching, hands-on manager who underpays his players and treats them with disdain. And when gamblers and hustlers discover that Comiskey's demoralized players are ripe for a money-making scheme, one by one the team members agree to throw the World Series. But when the White Sox are defeated, a couple of sports writers smell a fix and a national scandal explodes, ripping the cover off America's favorite pastime.« less
Eight Men Out is one of my favorite movies, filled with great drama and period color. A thought-provoking look at baseball's greatest scandal (until steroids), the 1919 World Series, it explores the mentality of how talented ball players could "throw" the World Series. And it includes terrific baseball action as well. The period color is probably the greatest asset to the film...I wish my grandfather had been alive to tell me how accurate the clothes, chatter, and technology was. I have not listened to the director's commentary yet, but I look forwad to ding so.
The tragic story of Buck Weaver and the Black Sox scandal
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 03/25/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Wonderfully flavored baseball movie
Michael Erisman | Seattle, WA | 06/13/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."
EIGHT MEN OUT Let's the film goer Inside...
Michael Erisman | 06/04/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Baseball in 1919 and the tainted World Series of that year
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 05/19/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Rocco Dormarunno | Brooklyn, NY | 06/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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!"