Eight Men Out (Film)

Production

During the late summer and early fall of 1987, news media in Indianapolis reported sightings of the film's actors, including Sheen and Cusack. Sayles told the Chicago Tribune that he hired them not because they were rising stars, but because of their ball-playing talent.[6]

Sweeney remarked on the chilly Indiana temperatures in an interview with Elle magazine. "It got down to 30, 40 degrees, but John [Sayles] would stand there in running shorts, tank tops, sneakers—sometimes without socks—and never look cold." The young actor said Sayles appeared to be focused on an "agenda, and that's all he cared about. Looking at him we thought, 'Well, if he's not cold, then we certainly shouldn't be.'"[7]

Reports from the set location at Bush Stadium indicated that cast members were letting off steam between scenes. "Actors kidded around, rubbing dirt on each other", the Tribune reported. "... Actors trade jokes, smokes and candy" in the dugout. "'Some of them chewed tobacco at first, but,' noted Bill Irwin, 'Even the guys who were really into it started to chew apricots after a while.'"[8] Sheen made his reasons for taking the role clear. "I'm not in this for cash or my career or my performance", Sheen told the Tribune. "I wanted to take part in this film because I love baseball."

When cloud cover would suddenly change the light during the shooting of a particular baseball scene, Sayles showed "inspirational decisiveness", according to Elle, by changing the scripted game they would be shooting—switching from Game Two of the series to Game Four, for example. "The second assistant director knew nothing about baseball", Sayles told Elle, "and she had to keep track of who was on base. Suddenly we'd change from Game Two to Game Four, and she'd have to shuffle through her papers to learn who was on second, then track the right guys down all over the ballpark."[9]

Right-handed Sweeney told Elle that producers considered using an old Hollywood trick to create the illusion that he was hitting lefty. "We could have done it from the right side, then run to third and switched the negative, like they did in The Pride of the Yankees, but we didn't really have enough money for that", Sweeney said.[9]

Ring Lardner, Jr., Oscar-winning screenwriter of such films as Woman of the Year and M*A*S*H, came to Bush Stadium to visit the set. Lardner's article in American Film magazine reported that Sayles' script depicted much of the story accurately, based on what he knew from his father. But the audience, Lardner wrote, "won't have the satisfaction of knowing exactly why everything worked out the way it did."

Lardner also witnessed how the production crew had to make "a few hundred extras look like a World Series crowd of thousands", which were hampered by the production's inability to entice a substantial number of Indianapolis residents to come to the stadium to act as film extras. Lardner stated, "The producers offer free entertainment, Bingo with cash prizes, and as much of a stipend ($20 a day) as the budget permits ..."[10]


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