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15 Major Facts About Bull Durham

Before Ron Shelton became a filmmaker, he was a minor league second baseman with the Baltimore Orioles' farm team who spent his idle afternoons at the movies. He quit baseball at the age of 25, before making it to the bigs, then eventually wrote a film about minor league baseball that Sports Illustrated ranked as the greatest sports movie ever made. But its fan base goes far beyond sports aficionados: a few months after the film's release, legendary filmmaker Billy Wilder told Shelton that Bull Durham was a “great f-ckin’ picture, kid!” Read on for more about how this great f-ckin' picture came to be.

1. IT’S THE ONE BASEBALL MOVIE KURT RUSSELL REGRETS NOT GETTING.

According to the actor and former independent baseball leaguer, he agreed to play Crash Davis, but when he returned from a trip out of town, Kevin Costner won the part. Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford were also considered for the role. Costner won the part by going so far as to insist on hitting the batting cages with Shelton to show how much he wanted the role.

2. ANTHONY MICHAEL HALL BLEW HIS CHANCE AT PLAYING NUKE LALOOSH.

Orion Pictures wanted Hall to play the newbie pitcher, and the young actor acted like he knew that he was the studio’s choice by showing up 30 minutes late to a meeting with Shelton and producer Mark Burg. When he did arrive, Hall admitted that he hadn't read the script. “I thought Ron was going to shoot him,” Burg recalled to Entertainment Weekly. When they met again the next day, Hall had only read half the script. Shelton was so annoyed that he walked out of the room.

3. CHARLIE SHEEN WAS CONSIDERED FOR NUKE, TOO.

But Sheen was already committed to another baseball movie, Eight Men Out. Robbins also had an offer to be in that film, but after he passed the audition with Shelton by proving that he could throw a baseball, he chose to play Nuke instead.

4. THE STUDIO THOUGHT SUSAN SARANDON WAS TOO OLD AND NOT FUNNY ENOUGH TO PLAY ANNIE.

So producer Thom Mount had Sarandon (who was 41 during production) go to Orion Pictures co-founder Mike Medavoy’s office in a tight dress and lean over his desk for half an hour. "As a rule, most studio executives' strong suit isn't imagination," Sarandon recalled to Sports Illustrated in 2012. "So when you're trying to get a part, it helps for them to be able to envision you in the part. I definitely didn't go in there in a T-shirt and jeans. I remember I had on an off-the-shoulder red-and-white-striped dress. It was very form-fitting. It was understood what I had to do."

5. THE CRASH DAVIS/NUKE LALOOSH RELATIONSHIP IS BASED ON REALITY.

The veteran player acting as sage to an inexperienced yet talented pitcher came from Shelton’s former manager Joe Altobelli. Altobelli once told Shelton about his time as an aging player when his team ordered him to help the legendarily wild—and extremely talented—pitcher Steve Dalkowski grow up and turn into the major league talent he was capable of becoming. Sadly, unlike Crash Davis, Altobelli couldn’t save Dalkowski, who suffered from alcoholism.

6. THE "RAIN OUT" INCIDENT IS REAL, TOO.

In the movie, some drunken Durham Bull players decided that they didn’t want to play their next game, so they turned the sprinklers on to force a rain out. Ron Shelton was a member of the Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs in 1970 when some of his teammates—and members of the opposing team, the Amarillo Giants—really didn’t feel like playing the final game of the season, so they turned on the sprinkler system in the middle of the night. But the general manager of the Giants really wanted the game played, so he hired a helicopter to dry the infield and had the game played in front of 963 grateful fans.

7. CRASH DAVIS WAS NAMED AFTER A REAL BASEBALL PLAYER WHO WAS THOUGHT TO BE DEAD.

The name was found in an old Carolina League record book, and Shelton assumed he was dead. When that very-much-breathing Davis accepted an invitation to the set, he agreed to let them use his name in the movie as soon as he was told that Crash gets the girl in the end.

8. PAULA ABDUL STORMED OFF THE SET.

She incorrectly believed that in exchange for choreographing Tim Robbins’ bar dance moves, she would get a line or two in the movie. When told that no such deal was agreed upon, Abdul “marched off screaming," according to Shelton.

9. IT WASN’T SHOT DURING BASEBALL WEATHER.

Shot in North Carolina in October and November 1987, the grass was touched up with green paint. Most of the baseball scenes were shot at night to obscure the browning leaves.

10. YES, TIM ROBBINS AND SUSAN SARANDON MET ON THE SET.

Shelton is godfather to Jack Henry, their first child.

11. THE WEDDING SCENE WAS FULL OF PINK FLOYD FANS.

Needing extras and strapped for cash, producers convinced Pink Floyd fans to come straight from the band's Chapel Hill concert to the Durham Athletic Field for an after-party.

12. COSTNER IS ONLY THREE YEARS OLDER THAN TIM ROBBINS.

When Robbins celebrated his 29th birthday on October 16th during production, the actor playing the veteran catcher was 32.

13. TREY WILSON PASSED AWAY MONTHS AFTER THE FILM CAME OUT.

The actor who played Bulls manager Joe Riggins died of a cerebral hemorrhage at 40 years old.

14. THE BASEBALL HALL OF FAME SCHEDULED, THEN CANCELED, AN ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION.

Hall of Fame president and former Reagan White House staffer Dale Petroskey canceled a planned 15th anniversary celebration of the film in 2003 out of fear that Robbins and Sarandon would share their views against the Iraq war.

15. THERE WAS TALK OF A SEQUEL.

In the first few years after Bull Durham’s release, Shelton considered where the characters would be, specifically whether Annie would follow Crash to his managing job in Visalia. But now that the actors are over 25 years older, it’s apparently no longer under consideration.

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The Princess Ride: Here's What a Princess Bride Theme Park Attraction Might Look Like
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MGM

Do you fight the urge to say “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya” when introducing yourself? Have you spent the past 30 years mispronouncing the word “marriage”? If so, you may be a diehard fan of The Princess Bride. The cult film (and the book on which it’s based) has inspired board games, merchandise, and countless pop culture references. Now, two theme park designers from Universal have conceived the inconceivable. As Nerdist reports, Jon Plsek and Olivia West have designed the plans for a hypothetical attraction called “The Princess Ride.

Their idea follows the classic river boat ride structure and adds highlights from the movie around each corner. After watching Buttercup and Wesley’s love story unfold, riders are taken past the Cliffs of Insanity, through the Fire Swamp, and into the Pit of Despair. The climax unfolds at Prince Humperdinck’s castle and leads up to the two protagonists riding off into the sunset. The last thing the passengers see is Miracle Max and Valerie waving goodbye saying, “Hope ya had fun stormin’ the castle!”

The ride’s designers make a living turning stories into thrilling attractions. Plsek works as a concept artist for Universal Creative, the group behind Universal’s theme parks, and West works there as a concept writer. While The Princess Ride was just a fun side project for the pair, it isn’t hard to imagine their ride bringing Princess Bride fans to the parks in real life.

For more of Jon Plesk’s concept rides inspired by classics like Dr. Strangelove (1964) and National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), check out his website.

[h/t Nerdist]

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13 Great Facts About Bad Lieutenant
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Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Bad Lieutenant can be accused of many things, but one charge you can't level against it is false advertising. Harvey Keitel's title character, whose name is never given, is indeed a bad, bad lieutenant: corrupt, sleazy, drug-addled, irresponsible, and lascivious, all while he's on the job. (Imagine what his weekends must be like!)

Abel Ferrara's nightmarish character study was controversial when it was released 25 years ago today, and rated NC-17 for its graphic nudity (including a famous glimpse at Lil’ Harvey), unsettling sexual violence, and frank depiction of drug use. The film packs a wallop, no doubt. Here's some behind-the-scenes info to help you cope with it.

1. THE PLACID WOMAN WHO HELPS THE LIEUTENANT FREEBASE HEROIN WROTE THE MOVIE.

That's Zoë Tamerlis Lund, who starred in Abel Ferrara's revenge-exploitation thriller Ms. 45 (1981) more than a decade earlier, when she was 17 years old. She and Ferrara are credited together for writing Bad Lieutenant, though she always insisted that wasn't the case. "I wrote this alone," she said. "Abel is a wonderful director, but he's not a screenwriter." She said elsewhere that she "wrote every word of that screenplay," though everyone agrees the finished movie included a lot of improvisation. Lund was a fascinating, tragic character herself—a musical prodigy who became an enthusiastic and unapologetic user of heroin before switching to cocaine in the mid-1990s. She died of heart failure in 1999 at age 37.

2. CHRISTOPHER WALKEN WAS SUPPOSED TO STAR IN IT.

Christopher Walken had starred in Ferrara's previous film, King of New York (1990), and was set to play the lead in Bad Lieutenant before pulling out at almost the last minute. Ferrara was shocked. "[Walken] says, 'You know, I don't think I'm right for it.' Which is, you know, a fine thing to say, unless it's three weeks from when you're supposed to start shooting," Ferrara said. "It definitely caught me by surprise. It put me in terminal shock, actually." Harvey Keitel replaced him (though not without difficulty; see below), and the film's editor, Anthony Redman, thought Keitel was a better choice anyway. "Chris is too elegant for the part," he said. "Harvey is not elegant." 

3. HARVEY KEITEL'S INITIAL REACTION TO THE SCRIPT WAS NOT PROMISING.

"When we gave [Keitel] the script the first time, he read about five pages and threw it in the garbage," Ferrara said. Keitel's recollection was a little more diplomatic. As he told Roger Ebert, "I read a certain amount of pages and I put it down. I said, 'There's no way I'm gonna make this movie.' And then I asked myself, 'How often am I a lead in a movie? Read it, maybe I can salvage something from it …' When I read the part about the nun, I understood why Abel wanted to make it."

4. IT WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY.


Lionsgate Home Entertainment

"It was always, in my mind, a comedy," Ferrara said. He cited the scene where the Lieutenant pulls the teenage girls over as a specific example of how Christopher Walken would have played it, and how Harvey Keitel changed it. "The lieutenant was going to end up dancing in the streets with the girls as the sun came up. They'd be wearing his gun belt and hat, and they'd have the radio on, you know what I mean? But oh my God, Harvey, he turned it into this whole other thing." Boy, did he. 

5. THAT SCENE WITH THE TEENAGE GIRLS HAD A REAL-LIFE ELEMENT THAT MADE IT EVEN CREEPIER.

One of the young women was Keitel's nanny. Ferrara: "I said, 'You sure you want to do this with your babysitter?' He says, 'Yeah, I want to try something.'"

6. MUCH OF IT WAS FILMED GUERRILLA-STYLE.

Like many indie-minded directors of low-budget films, Ferrara didn't bother with permits most of the time. "We weren't permitted on any of this stuff," editor Anthony Redman admitted. "We just walked on and started shooting." For the scene where a strung-out Lieutenant walks through a bumpin' nightclub, they sent Keitel through an actual, functioning club during peak operating hours.

7. A GREAT DEAL OF THE DIALOGUE AND ACTION WERE MADE UP ON THE FLY.

The script was only about 65 pages at first, which would have made for about a 65-minute movie. "It left a lot of room for improvisation," producer Randy Sabusawa said, "but the ideas were pretty distilled. They were there."

Script supervisor Karen Kelsall said supervising the script was a challenge. "Abel didn't stick to a script," she said. "Abel used a script as a way to get the money to make a movie, and then the script was kind of—we called it the daily news. It changed every day. It changed in the middle of scenes." Ferrara was unapologetic about the script's brevity. "The idea of wanting 90 pages ... is ridiculous."

8. AND THERE WERE EVEN MORE IDEAS THAT THEY DIDN'T USE.

Ferrara said a scene that epitomized the movie for him—even though he never got around to filming it—was one where the Lieutenant robs an electronics store, leaves, then gets a call about a robbery at the electronics store. He responds in an official capacity (they don't recognize him), takes a statement, walks out, and throws the statement in the garbage. "And that to me is the Bad Lieutenant, you know?" Ferrara said. 

9. THE BASEBALL PLAYOFF SERIES IS FICTIONAL.

The Mets have battled the Dodgers for the National League championship once, in 1988. (The Dodgers beat 'em and went on to win the World Series.) For the narrative Ferrara wanted—the Mets coming back from a 3-0 deficit to win the pennant—he had to make it up. He used footage from real Mets-Dodgers games (including Darryl Strawberry's three-run homer from a game in July 1991) and added fictional play-by-play. But the statistics were accurate: No team had ever been down by three in a best-of-seven series and then come back to win. (It's happened once since then, when the 2004 Red Sox did it.)

10. THEY HAD HELP FROM THE COP WHO SOLVED A SIMILAR CASE.

The disgusting crime at the center of the film (we won't dwell on it) was inspired by a real-life incident from 1981, which mayor Ed Koch called "the most heinous crime in the history of New York City." The street cop who solved it, Bo Dietl, advised Ferrara on the film and had an on-screen role as one of the detectives in our Lieutenant's circle of friends.

11. THEY DESECRATED THE CHURCH AS RESPECTFULLY AS THEY COULD.

Production designer Charles Lagola had his team cover the church’s altar and other surfaces with plastic wrap, then painted the graffiti and other defacements on the plastic.

12. IT WAS RATED NC-17 IN THEATERS, WITH AN R-RATED VERSION FOR HOME VIDEO.

Blockbuster and some of the other retail chains wouldn't carry NC-17 or unrated films, so sometimes studios would produce edited versions. (See also: Requiem for a Dream.) The tamer version of Bad Lieutenant was five minutes and 19 seconds shorter, with parts of the rape scene, the drug-injecting scene, and much of the car interrogation scene excised.

13. THE "SEQUEL" HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT, NOR DID FERRARA APPROVE OF IT.


First Look International

Movie buffs were baffled in 2009, when Werner Herzog directed Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, starring Nicolas Cage. It sounds like a sequel (or a remake), but in fact had no connection at all to the earlier film except that both were produced by Edward R. Pressman. Herzog said he'd never seen Ferrara's movie and wanted to change the title (Pressman wouldn't let him); Ferrara, outspoken as always, initially wished fiery death on everyone involved. Ferrara and Herzog finally met at the 2013 Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, where Herzog initiated a conversation about the whole affair and Ferrara expressed his frustration cordially. 

Additional sources:
DVD interviews with Abel Ferrara, Anthony Redman, Randy Sabusawa, and Karen Kelsall.

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