Unlike other nostalgic baseball films (THE NATURAL, FIELD OF DREAMS), director John Sayles's EIGHT MEN OUT explores one of the darkest moments in the history of the sport--1919's infamous Black Sox scandal, when eight players on the heavily favored Chicago White Sox agreed to throw the World Series. Based on Eliot Asinof's 1963 book of the same name, the film investigates why the players--including the great Shoeless Joe Jackson, who many believe belongs in the Hall of Fame--would purposely lose the most important game of their lives. Set in the same time period as Sayles's MATEWAN, EIGHT MEN OUT shows how money and exploitative labor conditions destroy the purity of the game. Even though the film has no star parts and ends on a bleak note, EIGHT MEN OUT was the second Sayles film to receive financing from a major studio. Studs Terkel appears as the famous journalist Hugh Fullerton, who exposes the scandal, while Asinof and Sayles also have small roles.
Studs Terkel - Author/Historian/Broadcaster, CHICAGO: CITY OF THE CENTURY
John Sayles - Director/Writer/Producer
Christopher Lloyd - Actor, TAXI
Charlie Sheen - Actor, TWO AND A HALF MEN
Clifton James - Star, Film and TV movies/appearances, '50s-90s, LONE STAR
D.B. Sweeney - Actor
David Strathairn - American stage/film actor, GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK
John Cusack - American actor, SAY ANYTHING/GROSSE POINTE BLANK
John Mahoney - American actor, FRASIER
Michael Lerner - American Supporting Actor
Anxious to burn the team's owner--whose skinflint tactics insult their talent--eight players on the Chicago White Sox conspire with gamblers to throw the 1919 World Series.
Theatrical Release: September 2, 1988 Director John Sayles wrote the script (his first ever) in 1977, as an audition piece for a film agency in Hollywood. He could not make the film then because the rights to the story had been in litigation for about 20 years. Three years later, Midge Sanford-Sarah Pillsbury Productions acquired the rights to Asinof's book and made a deal with Sayles to make the film. Sayles selected actors with experience playing baseball. Ken Berry, a former center fielder in the major leagues, helped get the actors in shape. Sayles usually had only 200 extras and some cardboard cutouts to fill in the stadium for the baseball scenes. A movable smokestack and well-placed coaches covered the stadium lights in the background.
"...An amazingly full and heartbreaking vision of the dreams, aspirations and disillusionments of a nation....A home run..." - 09/02/1988 New York Times, p.C3
"...Mesmerizing....A watershed American drama that's rich and clear..." - 09/07/1988 Los Angeles Times, p.C1
"...You come out of OUT with a solid grasp of how eight members of the Chicago White Sox were enticed to throw the 1919 World Series..." - 05/11/2001 USA Today, p.12E
"...The actor are, enjoyably, given the freedom to flesh out their characters..." - 11/01/2000 Total Film, p.120