Based on two factoids I knew about Bull Durham I prepared myself for a movie I wouldn’t like. I was wrong. The first factoid was that the movie was about baseball. That turned out to be halfway true. Yes, on one hand a lot of the action is happening on and around the baseball fields and one of the central theme is the “church of baseball.”, On the other hand though, baseball can be viewed as the background, setting or vehicle delivering the movies other themes such as coming of age (and aging out of playing too), personal growth, serial relationship versus permanent monogamy. The excellent writing and delivery of the script and the way the aforementioned themes were integrated compensated for my lack of interest in baseball.
The script,–written by Ron Shelton , who also directed the movie–was phenomenal full of quotes that are worthy to remember. I copy below a few that showed the comic aspects of the movie.
Skip: Don’t take this the wrong way Millie, but if I catch you in here again I’ll ban you from the ballpark.
Millie: You can’t ban me from the ballpark because my daddy donated the scoreboard.
Skip: What do we need a scoreboard for? We haven’t scored any runs all season.
Larry: Who’s this? Who are you?
Crash Davis: I’m the player to be named later.
Annie Savoy: The world is made for people who aren’t cursed with self awareness.
Crash Davis: Last chance. Your place or mine?
Annie Savoy: Despite my rejection of most Judeo-Christian ethics, I am, within the framework of the baseball season, monogamous.
Crash Davis: The rose goes in the front, big guy.
Ebby Calvin LaLoosh: Ooh, I’ve heard of stuff like this.
Annie Savoy: Yeah? Have you heard of Walt Whitman?
Ebby Calvin LaLoosh: No. Who’s he play for?
The other factoid I knew was that it was starring Kevin Costner, who is not my favorite actor. But then I was mistaken, because the real star was Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins got equal screen and bedtime with Costner. The three of them together, a long with the rest of that cast created timeless magic. For a long time I wasn’t even sure whether it was supposed to be set in contemporary times of the 1980’sor 10-20 years earlier. In many regards it was a timeless movie.
In college I read a few essays about how and why baseball can be considered modern religion. This movie explained it so much better, albeit less scholarly fashion than those academic essays. Annie’s opening monologue has the essence I was looking for. I still don’t know the game’s rules, but I can enjoy more the action having watched this movie.
The film @ IMDB. (Summary from there: A fan who has an affair with one minor-league baseball player each season meets an up-and-coming pitcher and the experienced catcher assigned to him.)