Bull Durham (1988) – Ron Shelton (Friday’s Finest)

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.

Wikipedia Storyline:

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.

References:
1. Bull Durham – Wikipedia

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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Posted in Movies and TV
22 comments on “Bull Durham (1988) – Ron Shelton (Friday’s Finest)
  1. I think it’s a fun film, too. I loved Tim Robbins in this one. Was it his first film? As the neophyte, he was the perfect foil to Costner’s character. Susan is sultry–I wish her character had had more depth, though.

  2. Badfinger (Max) says:

    I love this movie. We have a minor league team that I go see every year called The Nashville Sounds. Now days they are not as bad off as they were in the movie but you see pure baseball and all of the players are hoping for that call up…knowing that most don’t get that call. It’s a great game but it will break your heart.

    • I think what made it feel so authentic was that Director Shelton was a minor league player himself and the movie has those little idiosyncrasies in character and behaviour which makes you feel you are seeing something told with first-hand experience.
      I see what you mean about the sport breaking your heart.

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        That added so much to it. He knew the nuisances that baseball has that the average writer wouldn’t know.
        I hope you get to a park one day Matt…Minor League games are fun as well. My wife likes minor league more than MLB.

        The Dodgers this year has dominated but it won’t mean a thing if they lose in the playoffs. Also…what other sport would you be a success from succeeding 30 percent of the time like in hitting.

      • ‘Nuisances’… that’s the word! The Minor League games look fun, at least based on what I’ve seen.

        I will be supporting the Dodgers especially if they face the Yankees lol

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        Thanks Matt… yea that is what MLB wants more than any series…Dodgers and Yankees. The last time it happened was 1981 and 14 year old Max was watching and very happy.

      • That would be a great World Series match up. You must have very fond memories of 1981.

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        Yes I do…and bad ones with 1977 and 1978

      • Haha, I was 4 years old then.
        I had a bruising this year with the Richmond Tigers who lost so many close games in the dying seconds. It makes the victories all the more sweeter. Tonight is the grand final of AFL.

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        They were eliminated right? I remember seeing that on ESPN I think.

      • Yeh buddy, a video referee goal called it wrong in last minute. I’ll get over it in a couple of years. Haha

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        I know how you feel….it takes a while!

      • Yeh that was brutal. I’m not renewing my subscription for the blatant ‘woke’ umpiring bias. So, I’ll just have to read about it from now on.

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        I know in replay in baseball…the replay has to show beyond a doubt. The articles I’ve read on that one…it was not beyond a doubt.

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        That sucks Matt…

      • The Goal Umpie calls it a goal ok…So to overturn the goal the video refs have to have definitive evidence. None of the angles showed any definitive evidence, so the Umpire’s call should have stood. We have idiots running the show these days.

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        Yea that is not right. It’s one thing to lose by making a mistake but not by the officials.

      • This is a bit of a rabbit hole, but any-hows…after we won our last Grand Final in 2020, the President of Australian football (an ex Geelong player) to combat how our club had dominated the competition changed the rules of the game. To slow it down where markers had to stand like statues. Asshole.
        My golly, I hope Sydney beat Geelong tonight (or Saturday afternoon Australian time). It will probably be my last game of AFL watched live from Overseas.
        I’m probably boring you silly, but if you want to see something of inspiration watch this video of Marlion Pickett (indigenous player) for Richmond playing his first game for Richmond in the 2019 final. Can you imagine a player getting a call-up in the Major Leagues to play the World Series. Well, he did in the AFL and it’s the stuff of legend. There exist few other sporting moments I find as inspiring as what he did playing his first game in the GRAND FINAL! When he pirouetted like a ballerina around a player, my jaw dropped Haha. And then when he kicked the GOAL! Legend.

  3. Ps. This is the second time I have sent this message, I sent it out last night, UK time. My wifi plays up a lot, so it might show up again somewhere!!

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