Funny, profane, deeply sweet-natured, and with a cast full of walking charisma bombs (Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Kevin Costner, the late, great Trey Wilson, Robert Wuhl–yes, really), Bull Durham remains the finest sports movie of all time. It’s Ron Shelton’s first movie, and it established the direction he’d take for much of his career, telling stories not about the superstars and most definitely not about the scruffy underdogs who for One Glorious Moment beat the superstars, but about the permanently scruffy underdogs, the minor leaguers, the one for whom love of the game and disappointment with the careers live in balance.
Costner, as a minor-league catcher nearing the end of his time and assigned to coach rising star Robbins, conveys that sense of weariness (not woolly. No one gets woolly) so well; this was the first performance of his where I saw a star. Susan Sarandon has never been sexier or smarter (William Blake!), Robbins never funnier, Shelton knows how to tell a joke visually and through editing and he also gives such a sense of a lived world. The dialogue breaks into some florid, memorable speeches; the “I believe” monologue is the most well-known, but much more powerful and more thematic is Costner reminiscing about his thirty days in the majors. All of this and some great, casual objectification of male bodies. It airs at 4.25 pm (Eastern and Pacific) on MoMax. Announce your presence with authority.