An Appreciation Of Sam Raimi’s Baseball Drama FOR LOVE OF THE GAME Starring Kevin Costner

There’s something about Sam Raimi’s For Love of the Game that got under my skin when I first saw it way back in 1999. It might have been the brilliant score from the great Basil Poledouris or Kevin Costner’s performance as ageing baseball player, Billy Chapel. I don’t know what it was, but it’s definitely my favourite film directed by Sam Raimi.

For Love of The Game was written by Dana Stevens, based on a novel by Michael Shaara. Here’s the IMDB synopsis:

After 19 years of playing the game he’s loved his whole life, Detroit Tigers pitcher Billy Chapel has to decide if he’s going to risk everything and put everything out there.

Costner had final cut on the picture and he had a falling-out with Universal Pictures after they made some cuts to the $50 million film in order to get a PG-13 rating.  Here’s what went down (according to Wikipedia):

A week before the film was to hit theatres, he voiced his complaints in a Newsweek interview, a breach of professional etiquette when speaking about a current film that one appears in. Universal Pictures co-chairman Stacey Snider, while agreeing with Costner that the cuts the Motion Picture Association demanded were unjust, stated, “Kevin’s not the director and it’s not fair for him to hijack a $50-million asset. I realize this is very much about principle for Kevin, but principle doesn’t mean that you never compromise. Our feeling is that we have backed the filmmaker and his name is Sam Raimi, not Kevin Costner.” Raimi, while supporting Universal’s decision and agreeing that a “PG-13” rating was a necessity, said he sympathized with Costner’s feelings and wished the lines could have been kept in without losing the “PG-13” rating. Universal compromised with Costner on the length, allowing a final cut of 2 hours, 17 minutes. Recognizing that he might nonetheless feel betrayed after he had waived his usual fee, Universal offered to pay him the full $20 million fee, but Costner declined.

Ultimately For Love Of The Game fizzled at the box office, scoring just $35 million in the US and $46 million globally. That doesn’t stop it from being great though. 

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