When I wrote my 28 To Do List last summer, #11 was to watch some of those movies everyone thinks I should have seen, but I haven’t. There are a lot of important cinematic classics that I’m embarrassed never to have seen. Like The Godfather. Or Terminator 2. Or most of the classic baseball movies. But it’s not like I have a list of movies that fit this criteria, it’s more that I hate that feeling when someone can’t believe I haven’t seen something so ubiquitous. So this list item has been knocking around in my head, without a good solution. But my friends, baseball season is drawing near, and what better time than now to start an extended marathon of the classic baseball movies? (Prior to this project I had seen Major League once, Bull Durham once, A League of Their Own a bunch of times, and Rookie of the Year a million, billion times. Also frequently watched: The Sandlot. And Angels in the Outfield.)
So I consulted my brother and my boyfriend to make sure the list of movies was complete. We left out most of the children’s movies (see above: I’ve seen them a million times). The ones we included were ones John or Dan loved, or ones that were important to the baseball movie genre. Or simply ones I really need to have seen, just for the sake of completeness. We aren’t planning to watch these in a standard marathon, but over the course of the weekends in March, leading up to opening day. Maybe this will be a new tradition!
We started off with The Natural. I loved it. And I think I have a crush on Robert Redford now. This one had all of the best things non-comedy baseball movies should: solid montages, a spitfire manager, someone trying to take down the team, and best of all, old timey uniforms. Dan and I really like old timey baseball. It has a certain something modern baseball just can’t get at. I think, though, that this one I’m definitely going to need to watch again. The problem with watching a movie that you know is classic and well-regarded is that you’re on pins and needles waiting for something bad to happen. This happened when I finally saw the Shawshank Redemption three years ago, too. I was waiting for something horrible and sad and heartbreaking to happen at the end; to end up sobbing. It’s hard to relax and enjoy a movie with that in the back of your mind. But nothing as catastrophic as I feared happened in The Natural, and the scenes on the field at the end are pure baseball magic. Classic through and through.
Next up was Field of Dreams. I’m no stranger to the creepy whisper-shouted If you build it, he will come. I didn’t expect that the building of the baseball diamond in the cornfield would be finished so early in the movie, and that a larger spirit-quest would ensue, with further mysteriously whispered and unintelligible instructions. Before I say anything else, I do want to point out that I’m obviously approaching all of these movies with the open mind of a true baseball fan. But Field of Dreams? It was a little MUCH, wasn’t it? It was all Important Swell of Music and Long Pauses Before Meaningful Moments. It felt like they were bashing me over the head with these Meaningful Baseball Moments, rather than just letting the moments develop in a meaningful way just because it’s a good story that pulls your heartstrings. (See: The Natural). Maybe it was because the story is about life and nostalgia and this one man’s journey, rather than about the game of baseball… But I could do without this one. I’m glad I saw it, but I don’t know if this needs to be added to my personal rotation or anything. Of course, Dan’s brother Dave yelled at me for saying all of this. “This is one of the few guy movies with non-cheesy emotion! How can you mock it?!” Ooops.
This is going to be such a fun project.