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With: John Cusack, Clifton James, Michael Lerner, Christopher Lloyd, John Mahoney, Charlie Sheen, David Strathairn, D.B. Sweeney, Michael Rooker, Don Harvey, James Read, Perry Lang, Gordon Clapp, Jace Alexander, Bill Irwin, Richard Edson, Kevin Tighe, Michael Mantell, John Anderson, Studs Terkel, James Desmond, John Sayles, Nancy Travis
Written by: John Sayles, based on a book by Eliot Asinof
Directed by: John Sayles
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 119
Date: 02/09/1988

Eight Men Out (1988)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

'Black' Eye

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

With Eight Men Out (1988), John Sayles attempts to vindicate the 1919 Chicago "Black Sox," consisting of eight players accused of throwing the World Series. He paints them as poor, dumb working stiffs who have no power against the moguls in charge. Superstar "Shoeless" Joe Jackson (D.B. Sweeney) is not the center of attention here, and because of his lack of screen time he comes across as godlike and untouchable. Team owner Charles Comiskey (played by Clifton James) comes across as particularly cruel. Most of the focus is on Buck Weaver (John Cusack), who only had a cursory involvement in the scandal, and pitcher Eddie Cicotte (David Strathairn) who did not have many seasons left in his sore arm.

Sayles gives the film an intelligent, well-researched, nostalgic tone with plenty of quiet moments to round out the excitement. The baseball scenes are nicely shot, but it's painful to watch the players trying to lose. Charlie Sheen rounds out the cast as Hap Felsch. Sayles himself co-stars as reporter Ring Lardner with the real-life Studs Terkel at his side playing Hugh Fullerton. Michael Lerner, Christopher Lloyd, Bill Irwin, John Mahoney, Michael Rooker and Richard Edson also star. MGM's DVD, originally issued in 2001, comes with the theatrical trailer, optional French and Spanish soundtracks and optional French and Spanish subtitles.

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