‘Bull Durham’ Rounds the Bases Into the Criterion Collection

VANAPHASE™ the Vanadium powerhouse!

Bull Durham Criterion

“This is a simple game. You throw the ball. You hit the ball. You catch the ball. You got it?”

In Ron Shelton’s Bull Durham, the only thing that is simple is the game of baseball. Everything else is, like life itself, complicated. Once a minor league ballplayer himself, Ron Shelton scored a breakout hit with his debut as a writer-director with his 1988 romantic comedy set in the world of minor league baseball, a film that stands the test of time and stands as one of the few truly great baseball movies as well as being a truly great romantic comedy. Now one of the finest sports movies ever made lands in the Criterion Collection with a new 4K transfer supervised and approved by director Ron Shelton, and containing an array of special features that dives into the heart of what make Bull Durham a movie that can never be replicated.

The story of Bull Durham takes place in Durham, North Carolina, where the Durham Bulls are an A-level minor league squad in the Carolina League. The film unfolds on two fronts. The first being a long-time minor league catcher Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) brought to the Durham Bulls to mentor a hot shot young pitching prospect Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh (Tim Robbins) with “a million-dollar arm and a five-cent head.” The second is Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon), a baseball-obsessed woman concerned with the boys of summer and her ongoing spiritual journey. Every year, Annie chooses a member of the Bulls to be her romantic partner and those who bed Annie have the best years of their career. However, her two choices for this particular season are the veteran catcher and the dimwitted up and comer – she chooses the young gun.

On the baseball side, you’ve got a struggling minor league club with a roster of various eccentrics with their own sets of superstitions. Crash Davis is a baseball lifer, a grizzled veteran of the game. At one point during the special features on this new edition, director Ron Shelton recalls a reviewer succinctly saying, “Crash loved the game more than it loved him.” He’s put in the impossible position of mentoring a dimwit and placing him on the path of his own elusive dream – a spot on a major league roster. And yet, despite facing the reality of his own faded hopes in the form of a cocky prospect whom he’s dubbed “Meat,” Crash does what’s asked of him because it’s that love of the game that drives him, even when it means long bus trips, stays in dingy motels, and sparsely populated ballparks with their array of gimmicks.

On the romance side, Annie Savoy is somehow the creation of the rift between Crash and Ebby as well as the glue that allows them to form the intimate bond between pitcher and catcher. She’s a sexually liberated woman, one who’s unafraid to use her sexuality to guide the perpetually horny and stubbornly ignorant “Nuke” LaLoosh to heed the advice imparted on him by her and his catcher. That Annie chose “Nuke” means that there’s a certain level of tension hanging over the relationship between the two baseball players, and it plays out in a variety of interesting manners on the field and off.

Ron Shelton so deftly creates a captivating character dynamic between the film’s three leads that it gives the film so much room to really play around with the national pastime. Manager Joe “Skip” Riggins (Trey Wilson) and pitching coach Larry Hockett (Robert Wuhl) get their moments, such as the managers locker room meltdown or the infamous mound visit that concludes with “Candlesticks always makes a nice gift.” Bull Durham is a movie that just has so many quotable moments that are intertwined with the game of baseball. “Get a hit, Crash,” a batboy says to the power-hitting catcher as steps to the plate. The veteran looks at the boy and says, “Shut up,” before entering the batter’s box with smirk. The movie has even entered the lexicon of baseball, with “the real life Crash Davis” being the moniker assigned to any longtime minor league veteran making their way to the big leagues.

Revisiting what I’ve always considered the greatest baseball movie ever made, I was stricken by something that I hadn’t noticed before – the subject of belief amongst the characters. In the opening narration, Annie Savoy starts out saying, “I believe in the Church of Baseball.” All of these characters are driven by their own set of beliefs, sometimes taking the form of religious tenants and other times taking on superstitions that can work as slump-busters. In the world of Bull Durham, talent can only get you so far before the combination belief and knowledge can propel to that next step on your journey. Of course, the topic of belief leads to one of the film’s most iconic moments with Crash delivering an epic rant as to his beliefs.

Great sports movies are rare, and there’s even a special feature on the Criterion disc where Ron Shelton and critic Michael Sragnow discuss sports films. One reason so many sports films fail to captivate audiences is because their outcomes typically fall into two simple outcomes – win or lose. How many fun sports movies lose their luster in the final act as everything comes down to the big game? Too many to count, and more often than not there’s no suspense because you know it’s either win or lose (most likely win). Bull Durham doesn’t do this. There’s no big game. There’s no pennant race. It’s a movie about the game but not about a game. Beyond the game, it’s a movie about love – be it baseball or romance. It’s genuinely surprising that so few sports films have taken the lead presented by Ron Shelton, that these movies don’t need the big game to deliver a satisfying and moving climax.

Other special features on the Criterion edition of Bull Durham as from its gorgeous 4K restoration include two audio commentary tracks featuring Ron Shelton and Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins. There are a couple of featuettes, one that looks into the making of the film and another examining how the film is beloved by those who’ve dedicated their life to the game. Two NBC news segments offer an interesting portrait of a moment in time, one being a 1991 profile on Max Patkin, “the Clown Prince of Baseball,” who is featured in the film, and the other a 1993 segment about the closing of the Durham Athletic Park, the setting for the film and home of the Durham Bulls.

Bull Durham is the greatest baseball film ever made. It captures the essence of the game. It’s full of crackling dialogue that is endlessly quotable. It’s absolutely hilarious at times and heartbreaking at others. While it’s generally considered a sports film, Bull Durham is truly a romantic comedy with sports as its backdrop and its central romance is one that feels truer than most. Like so many other great movies, Bull Durham enters the Cooperstown of cinema – the Criterion Collection.

Bull Durham
  • Overall Score


A movie about love and baseball, Bull Durham arrives in the Criterion Collection with a great new restoration complete with an array of special features dedicated to Ron Shelton’s classic.


Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Mario Van Peebles Talks About His New Movie ‘Armed’

Acclaimed filmmaker, writer, actor and any other title he deserves, Mario...

‘I Feel Bad,’ Episode Two is Better than the Pilot (Minimal Spoilers)

About half an hour ago, I let loose my frustrations on...

‘I Feel Bad’ Continues the Whitewashing of Asian Cultures

I Feel Bad made me feel awful as yet another show...

Event News Event Reviews
viz media
Have no Fear, for Viz Media is Here! – SDCC 2018

I grew up reading more manga than I did American comics....

Transformers: The Movie Theatrical Debut
32 Years Ago Today, Was The Transformers: The Movie Theatrical Debut

On this day, 32 years ago, the world was graced with The...

Blizzard SDCC 2018
Blizzard SDCC 2018 – Blizzard Entertainment Brings Massive Lineup to SDCC

Blizzard in SDCC 2018 – Blizzard Entertainment brings Overwatch, StarCraft, and...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Exclusive Track Premiere from Madden NFL 19!

(July 26, 2018 – Los Angeles, CA) – Lakeshore Records today...

Star Ocean Anamnesis
The Most Intuitively Fun Gameplay of Any Mobile RPG – Star Ocean Anamnesis Review

Star Ocean Anamnesis is hands down the most fun and intuitive gameplay...

Ghostbusters World
Strap On Your Jumpsuits and Proton Packs – Ghostbusters World First Look

Ghostbusters World First Look at SDCC2018 – When someone asks you if...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Five Questions for Gary Morgenstein About ‘A Mound Over Hell’

Gary Morgenstein is a journalist, public relations expert and author with...

Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic Novel
Dark Horse Disney Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic Novel Revealed

Dark Horse reveals new original Disney Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic...

black torch
Black Torch – New Supernatural, Action Manga from Viz Media

VIZ Media releases a new, supernatural story with the release of...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
DC Collectibles Brings Batman Dark Nights: Metal to Life

Straight from the pages of the bestselling DARK NIGHTS: METAL comics series comes...

Make Better PIX this Year with PIX Smart Animative Backpack

Start the school year off by making better life PIX, like picking up...

Chuck Billy of Testament Talks About His Signature Vaporizer

Chuck Billy of Testament talks about, “The Chief” his signature vaporizer,...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Bellator Hawaii to be Exlusively Aired on DAZN

From Bellator MMA – LOS ANGELES – The Neal S. Blaisdell Arena...

USA Boxing’s 1st West Coast Alumni Association Comes to Hollywood

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (September 11, 2018) – The stars will be...

Trifecta/UFC Kick-off Golden Ticket Giveaway for Sold Out UFC 229 Khabib vs. McGregor Epic VIP Experience

Running from today, September 11th through September 16th, the first 250 orders...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Fantoy Comics presents: Harry Potter and the cat conjuring pt: 5… no, 4!

Oh this cat conjuring thing is getting out of hand!

Fantoy Comics Presents Harry Potter and the Cat Conjuring Pt3

Pt 3 of the epic non-canonical Harry Potter and the Cat...

Fantoy Comics Presents – Harry Potter and the Cat Conjuring pt 2

Pt 2 in the epic non-canonical adventure of Harry Potter and...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Coastal Commoners Ep 2 Who’s Better Chris Jericho or Ric Flair and The Black Superman ‘Controversy’

This week Gary and R.C. respectfully disagree on who the better...

Coastal Commoners Ep 1 Rosh Hashanah and the Assyrian/Jewish Connection

Editor’s Note: The views of Mr. Morgenstein and Mr. Samo do...

Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming. Related

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Deadpool 2 Vinyl Giveaway!

We are giving away a copy of Deadpool 2 Score Soundtrack on...

Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack
Blake Neely Behind-the-Scenes Recording of Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack

Check out this exclusive Behind-The-Scenes video with Blake Neely as he...

Rising Country Music Artist Kaylin Roberson Talks About her work with St. Jude

Kaylin Roberson is a singer, songwriter and pianist from Raleigh, North...

%d bloggers like this: