In my article about Baseball Romanticism, I mentioned how Bull Durham was one of my favourite baseball movies. I have never seen a game of baseball in the United States, but I like watching games in the background when they appear on ESPN. When I win the lottery, I want to go on a pilgrimage to see one MLB game in each Club’s stadium (and the makeshift Field of Dreams ground) in just one MLB season. That’s my sporting dream. There is something about the romanticism of Baseball that keeps pulling me in and today’s movie Bull Durham lent part to my fascination.
Bull Durham is partly based upon the minor-league baseball experiences of writer/director Ron Shelton and depicts the players and fans of the Durham Bulls, a minor-league baseball team in Durham, North Carolina. The film stars Kevin Costner as “Crash” Davis, a veteran catcher from the AAA Richmond Braves, brought in to teach rookie pitcher Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh (Tim Robbins) about the game in preparation for reaching the major leagues. Baseball groupie Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon) romances Nuke but finds herself increasingly attracted to Crash.
There is a fantastic moment recalled by Director Robert Shelton regarding the response to his movie:
A man came up and asked if I was Ron Shelton. I said yes, and he said, ‘Somebody would like to meet you.’ So, I followed him—I didn’t realize at the time it was Stanley Donen, the director—and he brought me over to his best friend, Billy Wilder. Wilder looked up and said, ‘Great fuckin’ picture, kid!’ I said, ‘Mr. Wilder, that’s the best review I’ve ever had!'”
—Director Ron Shelton, in a 2008 interview
Bull Durham is an unusual movie in the sense that it doesn’t have any pretenses and doesn’t follow a typical “from zero to hero” story. It just tells you how it is. And the results are often teasy, cheeky, sexy, scandalous and sometimes downright arrogant. But it seems to capture at its heart – Baseball. It’s a largely unforgotten sports-comedy, but one of the best I have seen. This is mainly a character driven movie and there is great chemistry between them. Also, the soundtrack features great music including Bill Haley and The Comets Rock around the Clock, Edith Piaf Non, je ne regrette rien and La vie en Rose, and The Everly brothers When I Will be Loved.
The film was well-received critically with an approval rating of 97%, based on 71 reviews, and an average rating of 8.00/10. On the web site Rotten Tomatoes, the critical critical consensus reads, “Kevin Costner at his funniest and most charismatic in Bull Durham, a film that’s as wise about relationships as it is about minor league baseball.“
1. Bull Durham – Wikipedia