Friday, February 10, 2006

Say it ain't so, Joe (Part 2)

So, back to the baseball movies discussion. I guess next I should talk about another forgotten jem which is Bingo Long Traveling All Stars and Motor Kings. Bingo Long is one of the few movies made about the Negro Leagues. It's set at the end of the thirties and includes fictionalized portrayals of Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson, which are ably played by Billy Dee Williams and James Earl Jones. Richard Pryor is also in this one and he does a great job with comic relief. The baseball scenes aren't that great in this movie, but it does a good job of showing what life was like for the Negro League players of the day. I wish someone would remake this movie. Not only because I think it's a subject which is need of more attention, but also I think that it would be even more relevant given the times we live in today.

Eight Men Out is as historically correct a telling of the Black Sox scandal as we are likely to get on film. The movie documents the exploits of the 1919 White Sox, who threw the World Series as part of a gambling operation. Now there were many accusations of cheating back in those days by greats and near greats (Ty Cobb and Hal Chase, just to name a couple), but nothing was ever proven. It does a really good job of showing who these people were and the motivations for their actions. The Baseball is pretty good. Some of the actors actually look like they know what they're doing out there. It obviously doesn't have a storybook ending, but that doesn't particularly work against it.

I'll lump the Bad News Bears and Major League together. They both play it mainly for laughs. The baseball in the Bears in terrible, but of course they're supposed to be a terrible team. Until, that is, Kelly leak shows up and puts together the greatest hitting display this side of Roy Hobbes. Tatum O'Neal is fantastic in this and it certainly looks like she can pitch. I actually saw this one in the theaters and I still enjoy watching it today. Major League is also pretty funny and actually the baseball scenes are really well done. I know that Charlie Sheen can actually throw in the mid 80's so he was pretty convincing in his pitching scenes. It's got a lot of funny lines and the traditional storybook ending where the team wins and the hero gets the girl. What more can you really ask for. If I would have to make a call between the two of them, I'd give the nod the Bears.

Next is the Pride of the Yankees. The Lou Gehrig Story told by Hollywood in the early forties. There are of course wild liberties taken with the facts in this one and as I mentioned earlier, Gary Cooper was not left handed (but they did reverse the film to make it appear that he was). The baseball scenes are pretty dated, but it's hard not to love a story about a character as beloved as Lou Gehrig. As I said, liberties were taken, but you kind of forgive them because you think at least they got the essence of the story right. I guess time has made Lou Gehrig sort of the saint of baseball and this movie was probably the genesis for that sentiment.

That's it for today. I'll come back soon with the showdown between the two movies left standing for the title of Greatest Baseball Movie. The Natural Vs. Bull Durham.



Blogger Sacknuts said...

My nuts itch.

9:42 PM  

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