CLOSE

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.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Universal Pictures
arrow
entertainment
15 Fun Facts About Army of Darkness
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

On February 19, 1993, Army of Darkness—the third installment in Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell's Evil Dead franchise—made its way into U.S. theaters. You probably know all about Ash’s boomstick, but on the occasion of the hilarious horror comedy's 25th anniversary, it's worth a closer look.

1. ARMY OF DARKNESS ISN'T THE ENTIRE TITLE.

The film’s title is stylized onscreen as Bruce Campbell vs. Army of Darkness. This phrasing was Sam Raimi’s homage to the defunct Hollywood tradition of putting stars’ names in movie titles (like Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein)—but the studio feared the long title would confuse moviegoers, so it was shortened for official purposes to just Army of Darkness.

2. EVEN THE SHORTER TITLE WASN'T RAIMI'S FIRST CHOICE.

Army of Darkness is the third installment of the Evil Dead series and the first to take place during the Middle Ages. Raimi’s original title for Army of Darkness was The Medieval Dead.

3. BRIDGET FONDA FINALLY GOT TO WORK WITH RAIMI.

Bridget Fonda makes a cameoas Ash’s girlfriend Linda during the beginning flashback sequence. She is the third actress in three films to play Linda (following actresses Betsy Baker and Denise Bixler). Fonda—a huge Evil Dead II fan—had originally auditioned to be in Raimi’s previous film, Darkman, but didn’t get the part.

4. ASH'S CAR HAD A LOT OF SCREEN EXPERIENCE.

The 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 allegedly appears in all of Sam Raimi’s films.

5. DARKMAN MADE ARMY OF DARKNESS POSSIBLE.

Raimi wanted to make Army of Darkness immediately following 1987’s Evil Dead II, but he struggled to find funding to finish his trilogy. The financial success of Raimi’s 1990 film, Darkman, eventually convinced Universal Studios to split the $12 million budget with executive producer Dino De Laurentiis.

6. A SUBTLE SCIENCE FICTION REFERENCE PLAYS A KEY ROLE.

The words Ash must utter to safely retrieve the Necronomicon (“Klaatu verata nikto”) are actually a variation on a phrase from the original version of The Day the Earth Stood Still. In that film, “Klaatu barada nitko” is the phrase one must say to stop the robot Gort from destroying Earth.

7. THE SKELETON DEADITES WERE AN HOMAGE.

Their design is a tribute to visual effects legend Ray Harryhausen.

8. THE STAY PUFT MARSHMALLOW MAN MAKES AN APPEARANCE.

Billy Bryan, the actor who portrays the second monster in the medieval pit, also portrayed the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters.

9. SAM RAIMI'S BROTHER WORE A LOT OF HATS.

Ted Raimi—who makes cameos in all of his brother’s films—appears as three different background characters in Army of Darkness. He is first seen as a sympathetic villager, then as a dying soldier during the final battle, and, finally, as an S-Mart employee in the last scene.

10. RAIMI HAD TO FIGHT FOR AN R-RATING.

In keeping with the gory first two films in the series, Army of Darkness received an NC-17 rating from the MPAA. It was subsequently bumped down to an R rating after the filmmakers pointed out that the ostensible gore in the film was happening to skeletons.

11. PLAYING EVIL ASH WAS TOUGH FOR CAMPBELL.

It took makeup artists three hours to get Campbell ready for shooting.

12. RAIMI STORYBOARDED EVERY SINGLE SHOT IN THE MOVIE HIMSELF.

About 25 shots in the final battle are taken from storyboards originally used in the 1948 Victor Fleming film Joan of Arc, which were brought to Raimi’s attention by visual effects supervisor William Mesa. Mesa got them from a friend, who got them from Fleming himself.

13. THERE'S AN EASTER EGG FOR TREKKIES.

Star Trek fans will recognize the location where Ash learns the “Klaatu verata nikto” incantation. The scene was shot at the iconic Vasquez Rocks in Agua Dulce, California, where the famous “Arena” episode from Star Trek was also shot. The movie also shot in the Bronson Canyon area of Griffith Park in Los Angeles that served as the Batcave for the 1960s Batman television show.

14. THE STUDIO CHANGED THE ENDING.

Bruce Campbell stars in 'Army of Darkness' (1992)
Universal Pictures

The original conclusion of the film—which Universal Studios deemed too negative—featured Ash taking too much potion to get back to the present day and waking up in a future, post-apocalyptic London. The ending can be seen on subsequent director’s cuts of home video versions of Army of Darkness.

15. EVEN AFTER YEARS OF TRYING, A SEQUEL NEVER MATERIALIZED.

Beginning in 2015, Bruce Campbell reprised his role as Ash in the Ash vs Evil Dead TV series. While fans of the Evil Dead franchise love it, Raimi spent years trying to get a sequel to Army of Darkness off the ground. On the commentary track for the first season of Ash vs. Evil Dead, Raimi even shared a few of the discarded ideas he had for the film.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
getty images (March and Beery)/ istock (oscar)
arrow
entertainment
6 Times There Were Ties at the Oscars
getty images (March and Beery)/ istock (oscar)
getty images (March and Beery)/ istock (oscar)

Only six ties have ever occurred during the Academy Awards' near-90-year history. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) members vote for nominees in their corresponding categories; here are the six times they have come to a split decision.

1. BEST ACTOR // 1932

Back in 1932, at the fifth annual Oscars ceremony, the voting rules were different than they are today. If a nominee received an achievement that came within three votes of the winner, then that achievement (or person) would also receive an award. Actor Fredric March had one more vote than competitor Wallace Beery, but because the votes were so close, the Academy honored both of them. (They beat the category’s only other nominee, Alfred Lunt.) March won for his performance in horror film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Beery won for The Champ (writer Frances Marion won Best Screenplay for the film), which was remade in 1979 with Ricky Schroder and Jon Voight. Both Beery and March were previous nominees: Beery was nominated for The Big House and March for The Royal Family of Broadway. March won another Oscar in 1947 for The Best Years of Our Lives, also a Best Picture winner. Fun fact: March was the first actor to win an Oscar for a horror film.

2. BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT // 1950

By 1950, the above rule had been changed, but there was still a tie at that year's Oscars. A Chance to Live, an 18-minute movie directed by James L. Shute, tied with animated film So Much for So Little. Shute’s film was a part of Time Inc.’s "The March of Time" newsreel series and chronicles Monsignor John Patrick Carroll-Abbing putting together a Boys’ Home in Italy. Directed by Bugs Bunny’s Chuck Jones, So Much for So Little was a 10-minute animated film about America’s troubling healthcare situation. The films were up against two other movies: a French film named 1848—about the French Revolution of 1848—and a Canadian film entitled The Rising Tide.

3. BEST ACTRESS // 1969

Probably the best-known Oscars tie, this was the second and last time an acting award was split. When presenter Ingrid Bergman opened up the envelope, she discovered a tie between newcomer Barbra Streisand and two-time Oscar winner Katharine Hepburn—both received 3030 votes. Streisand, who was 26 years old, tied with the 61-year-old The Lion in Winter star, who had already been nominated 10 times in her lengthy career, and won the Best Actress Oscar the previous year for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Hepburn was not in attendance, so all eyes fell on Funny Girl winner Streisand, who wore a revealing, sequined bell-bottomed-pantsuit and gave an inspired speech. “Hello, gorgeous,” she famously said to the statuette, echoing her first line in Funny Girl.

A few years earlier, Babs had received a Tony nomination for her portrayal of Fanny Brice in the Broadway musical Funny Girl, but didn’t win. At this point in her career, she was a Grammy-winning singer, but Funny Girl was her movie debut (and what a debut it was). In 1974, Streisand was nominated again for The Way We Were, and won again in 1977 for her and Paul Williams’s song “Evergreen,” from A Star is Born. Four-time Oscar winner Hepburn won her final Oscar in 1982 for On Golden Pond.

4. BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE // 1987

The March 30, 1987 telecast made history with yet another documentary tie, this time for Documentary Feature. Oprah presented the awards to Brigitte Berman’s film about clarinetist Artie Shaw, Artie Shaw: Time is All You’ve Got, and to Down and Out in America, a film about widespread American poverty in the ‘80s. Former Oscar winner Lee Grant (who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1976 for Shampoo) directed Down and Out and won the award for producers Joseph Feury and Milton Justice. “This is for the people who are still down and out in America,” Grant said in her acceptance speech.

5. BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION) // 1995

More than 20 years ago—the same year Tom Hanks won for Forrest Gump—the Short Film (Live Action) category saw a tie between two disparate films: the 23-minute British comedy Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life, and the LGBTQ youth film Trevor. Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi wrote and directed the former, which stars Richard E. Grant (Girls, Withnail & I) as Kafka. The BBC Scotland film envisions Kafka stumbling through writing The Metamorphosis.

Trevor is a dramatic film about a gay 13-year-old boy who attempts suicide. Written by James Lecesne and directed by Peggy Rajski, the film inspired the creation of The Trevor Project to help gay youths in crisis. “We made our film for anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider,” Rajski said in her acceptance speech, which came after Capaldi's. “It celebrates all those who make it through difficult times and mourns those who didn’t.” It was yet another short film ahead of its time.

6. BEST SOUND EDITING // 2013

The latest Oscar tie happened only three years ago, when Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall beat Argo, Django Unchained, and Life of Pi in sound editing. Mark Wahlberg and his animated co-star Ted presented the award to Zero Dark Thirty’s Paul N.J. Ottosson and Skyfall’s Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers. “No B.S., we have a tie,” Wahlberg said to the crowd, assuring them he wasn’t kidding. Ottosson was announced first and gave his speech before Hallberg and Baker Landers found out that they were the other victors.

It wasn’t any of the winners' first trip to the rodeo: Ottosson won two in 2010 for his previous collaboration with Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker (Best Achievement in Sound Editing and Sound Mixing); Hallberg previously won an Oscar for Best Sound Effects Editing for Braveheart in 1996, and in 2008 both Hallberg and Baker Landers won Best Achievement in Sound Editing for The Bourne Ultimatum.

Ottosson told The Hollywood Reporter he possibly predicted his win: “Just before our category came up another fellow nominee sat next to me and I said, ‘What if there’s a tie, what would they do?’ and then we got a tie,” Ottosson said. Hallberg also commented to the Reporter on his win. “Any time that you get involved in some kind of history making, that would be good.”

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios