Eight Men Out (1988)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: Perhaps less than absorbing for non-baseball fans, but nevertheless underpinned by strong performances from the cast and John Sayles' solid direction.

Eight Men Out Videos

Eight Men Out Photos

Movie Info

Writer/director John Sayles' dramatization of the most infamous episode in professional sports -- the fix of the 1919 World Series -- is considered by many to be among his best films and arguably the best baseball movie ever made. This adaptation of Eliot Asinof's definitive study of the scandal shows how athletes of another era were a different breed from the well-paid stars of later years. The Chicago White Sox owner, Charlie Comiskey (Clifton James), is portrayed as a skinflint with little inclination to reward his team for their spectacular season. When a gambling syndicate led by Arnold Rothstein (Michael Lerner) gets wind of the players' discontent, it offers a select group of stars -- including pitcher Eddie Cicotte (Sayles regular David Strathairn), infielder Buck Weaver (John Cusack), and outfielder "Shoeless" Joe Jackson (D.B. Sweeney) -- more money to play badly than they would have earned to try to win the Series against the Cincinnati Reds. Sayles cast the story with actors who look and perform like real jocks, and added a colorful supporting cast that includes Studs Terkel as reporter Hugh Fullerton and Sayles himself as Ring Lardner.
Rating:
PG (adult situations/language)
Genre:
Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
Orion Pictures

Cast

John Cusack
as Buck Weaver
Charlie Sheen
as Hap Felsch
D.B. Sweeney
as Shoeless Joe Jackson
Christopher Lloyd
as Bill Burns
Jace Alexander
as Dickie Kerr
Gordon Clapp
as Ray Schalk
Bill Irwin
as Eddie Collins
Don Harvey
as Swede Risberg
Perry Lang
as Fred McMullin
John Mahoney
as Kid Gleason
James Read
as Lefty Williams
Michael Rooker
as Chick Gandil
David Strathairn
as Eddie Cicotte
John Sayles
as Ring Lardner
Studs Terkel
as Hugh Fullerton
James Desmond
as Smitty
Michael Lerner
as Arnold Rothstein
Kevin Tighe
as Sport Sullivan
Richard Edson
as Billy Maharg
Michael Mantell
as Abe Attell
Eliot Asinof
as Heydler
Clyde Bassett
as Ban Johnson
Clifton James
as Charles Comiskey
John Craig
as Rothstein's Lawyer
Michael Laskin
as Austrian
Randle Mell
as Ahearn
William Raymond
as Ben Short
Barbara Garrick
as Helen Weaver
Wendy Makkena
as Kate Jackson
Maggie Renzi
as Rose Cicotte
Nancy Travis
as Lyria Williams
Brad Garrett
as PeeWee
Jesse Vincent
as Scooter
Ken Berry
as Heckler
David Rice
as Enemy Fan
Tom Marshall
as Browns Umpire
Jack Merrill
as Grabiner
Josh Thompson
as Winslow
Leigh Harris
as Singer
J. Dennis Newman
as Reds Player
Charles Siebert II
as Reds Catcher
Michael Preston
as New Jersey Fans
Jim Martindale
as Cincinnati Umpire
Bill Jennings
as Chicago Umpire
David Hinman
as Announcer
Danton Stone
as Hired Killer
B.J. Davis
as Enemy Fan
Patrick Grant
as Irish tenor
Tim Laughter
as Betting Man
Brad Armacost
as Attendant
John Anderson
as Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis
Dick Cusack
as Judge Friend
Rich Komenich
as Jury Foreman
John E. Blazier
as Newspaper Reporter
Jim Desmond
as Smitty
Jerry Brent
as Writer
Robert Walsh
as Writer
Richard Lynch
as Writer
Julie Whitney
as Woman in Bar
Dana Roi
as Woman in Bar
Jim Stark
as Reporter
Brad Griffith
as Reporter
Steve Salge
as Reporter
Patrick Brown
as New Jersey Fan
John Greisemer
as New Jersey Fan
Charles Yankoglu
as New Jersey Fan
Mike Preston
as New Jersey Fan
Bill Raymond
as Ben Short
Merrill Holtzman
as Grabiner
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Eight Men Out

All Critics (48) | Top Critics (12)

The tone of Eight Men Out is reminiscent of the droll irony of John Huston's considerations of the vanity of human wishes and the corrupting power of money.

Full Review… | May 6, 2014
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

It's a period re-created with a whoosh of energy and a redeeming vein of irony.

Full Review… | March 20, 2013
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

The ensemble performances are of such a uniformly high caliber that our interest in the story never wavers.

Full Review… | March 20, 2013
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Eight Men Out never gathers much authority; the old themes have been hung on a rickety structure that constantly threatens to collapse.

Full Review… | March 20, 2013
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

In an ensemble movie like this one, an actor who grabs too much of the limelight can throw everything out of focus. The cast Sayles has assembled understands the value of teamwork.

Full Review… | March 20, 2013
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

Sayles often seems like a man who, trying to stretch a single, gets caught between bases and is desperately trying to evade the rundown.

Full Review… | August 1, 2008
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Eight Men Out

Good sports movie with a great cast and realistic 1919 setting that unfortunately suffers from too many moving pieces, convoluting what is otherwise a simplistic morality tale with true-story credibility.

Sam Barnett
Sam Barnett

Super Reviewer

This is writer/director John Sayles's historical drama about the infamous Black Sox Scandal in which eight players from the Chicago White Sox were paid to throw the 1919 WOrld Series- an event which is one of the mot notable and darkest moments in ports history. The retelling here is pretty good, and qwuite insightful, yet not without its flaws. The story could have ued some more context and clearer motivations, and it helps to have at least a little prior knowledge of the story before seeing this, but even then, this is still an enjoyable look at just how different the sports world was way back when, as compared to the days depicted here where the players were true working class heroes not making millions of dollars, and were seen as truly being guys deserving of worship, making their screw ups all the more stinging and upsetting. I think the film also could have further detailed the labor history aspect of things, and the exact cultural impact the scandal had, but it does a decent enough job as it stands.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

½

Worth seeing even if you don't like baseball. Great performances all round. How can you not love Michael Rooker?

Ken Stachnik
Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer

Discussion Forum

Discuss Eight Men Out on our Movie forum!

News & Features