Being a sports fan, I love sports movies. However, I hate the sports films where you know who the hero is going to be, coming from behind, or last place, or something to win by one point. Therefore, most of my favorite sports films, like A League of their Own, Rocky and Rocky Balboa, to name a few, are those where (spoiler alert – highlight it to reveal) –> ( the heroes lose).
Field of Dreams is neither of those films. In fact, it’s really a story of a journey, part coming-of-age, part coming-to-terms, wrapped around the motif of baseball. Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) is thirty-six years of age, married, with a young daughter, but is missing something. Actually, the film shows everyone is missing something, until we make the decision to do something about it. For Ray, he builds a baseball field on his farm, travels to Boston to meet the reclusive Terence Mann (James Earl Jones, in a role specifically written for him, W.P. Kinsella [whose story, “Shoeless Joe,” was the inspiration for the film] once wrote), and then to the small town of Chisolm, Minnesota to meet with “Moonlight” Graham (Burt Lancaster, in his final film role), a real baseball player who had only one game and zero at-bats (they actually gave ‘Moonlight Graham’ an at-bat between games of a Brooklyn Cyclones doubleheader; he struck out). Further, as an adolescent trying to come to terms with family, I certainly relate with Ray coming to revile his father over time, something I’m trying to avoid, and turning into his father, something I’m also trying to avoid.
And I love the baseball aspect of it – trying to come to terms with life in the framework of sports. The famed Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) comes back to life and to the playing field, and brings all eight of the Black Sox – not to mention a plethora of other greats (Smokey Joe Wood, Mell Ott, Gil Hodges – but not Ty Cobb) – to make a great show. Include a bit of the ’60s, a convoluted/liberally bent time-space continuum, one of the greatest monologues in the history of film by James Earl Jones (above), and a fantastic James Horner score nominated for an Oscar (as was the film for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Music, and Best Picture), and Field of Dreams is my favorite movie, period.
I’ve decided to set up a three-week theme of ‘film’ for this and the next two next Saturday Night Stuff I Like posts – next week, the Christopher Nolan-directed Batman films, and thereafter, Tom Hanks.