"At least he’s not a book burner, you Nazi cow!"
Description: Amy Madigan as Annie Kinsella defends the works of 1960s author Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) at a PTA meeting in the motion picture Field of Dreams (1989).
In the bible, the voice of God instructs Noah to build an ark. In Iowa, another supernatural voice whispers, "If you build it, he will come," and a farmer builds a baseball diamond in the middle of his cornfield. And so begins our story...
Ray Kinsella lives with his wife Annie and their daughter Karin (Gaby Hoffmann) on their farm in Iowa. One day, Ray hears a soft voice that comes out of nowhere. It says, "If you build it, he will come." The message continues until Ray believes the voice wants him to build a baseball field on his property. And so he bulldozes a section by his home and constructs a regulation baseball field replete with diamond, bleacher and lights.
"I'm 36 years old, I love my family, I love baseball, and I'm about to become a farmer. But until I heard the voice, I'd never done a crazy thing in my whole life." - Ray Kinsella
Like Noah in the Bible, people begin to think that Ray has lost his marbles. In addition, the Kinsellas are in financial difficulty and may lose their farm, so spending funds to build a baseball field seems an irrational thing to do, considering the family's problems.
But Ray is undeterred. He completes the baseball field and miraculously, one year later, out of the cornfield next to the baseball field comes the ghosts of baseball past, including Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) and the other seven Chicago Black Sox players banned from the game for throwing the 1919 World Series. They had been released from their eternal confinement to play baseball once again.
Shoeless Joe Jackson laments his inability to play the game, saying, "Getting thrown out of baseball was like having part of me amputated. I've heard that old men wake up and scratch itchy legs that been dust for over fifty years. That was me. I'd wake up at night with the smell of the ball park in my nose, the cool of the grass on my feet...The thrill of the grass."
Over time, more players would appear to play, like Smokey Joe Wood, Mel Ott, and Gil Hodges. Why even Ty Cobb wanted to play, but Shoeless Joe Jackson and his guys couldn't stand the son-of-a-bitch when they were alive, so they told him to "stick it!"
|Chick Gandil:||[the "Black Sox" warm up on the field. Shoeless Joe catches a fly ball hit by Buck Weaver] Show-off!|
|Buck Weaver:||Stick it in your ear, Gandil.|
|Eddie Cicotte:||Yeah, Gandil. If you'd have run like that against Detroit, I'd have won 20 games that year!|
|Chick Gandil:||For Pete's sake, Cicotte, that was 68 years ago! Give it up, will ya?|
|Swede Risberg:||Hey, hey! You guys wanna play ball, or what?|
|Buck Weaver:||Musclebound jerk.|
|Eddie Cicotte:||Oh, yeah? At least I got muscles.|
|Chick Gandil:||No! At most you got muscles!|
|Buck Weaver:||[to Cicotte] Come on, asshole! Pitch!|
|Swede Risberg:||[motions to Ray and Karin in the stands] Weaver... Be nice.|
|Buck Weaver:||[embarrassed, to Karin] Sorry, kid.|
|Karin Kinsella:||It's okay. I don't mind.|
During all of this supernatural going-on Ray and his wife attend a PTA meeting in Ray's home where the topic is banning of books, including works by Terrence Mann. Annie defends his work and calls, Beulah, the leader of the meeting a "Nazi Cow" and a "Book Burner" for censoring Terrence Mann and other allegedly subversive books as "The Wizard of Oz" and "The Diary of Anne Frank."
|Annie Kinsella:||Terence Mann was a voice of reason during a time of great madness. Where others were chanting, "Burn, baby, burn", he was talking about love and peace and prosperity. He coined
the phrase, "Make love, not war". I cherished every one of his books, and I dearly wish he had written some more. And if you experienced even a little bit of the sixties, you would feel the
same way, too.
|Beulah:||[indignantly] I "experienced" the sixties.|
|Annie Kinsella:||No, I think you had two fifties and moved right into the seventies.|
Later that night, both Ray and Annie have the same dream of Ray and Terrance Mann going to a Red Sox game. This, on top of the lastest message from beyond urging Ray to "Ease his Pain", motivates Ray to travel to Boston, Massachusetts in a Volkswagen bus to visit the famous civil rights, anti-war movement celebrity who once mentioned Ray's father, John Kinsella (who loved baseball) in one of his stories. Ray had read an magazine interview about Mann's childhood dream of playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers and his heartbreak when the team moved to Los Angeles, and believed that Mann's love of the game might give some insight into the meaning of the baseball field and the messages he keeps hearing.
But when Ray arrives, Mann denies having done an interview and refuses to see Ray or anyone else. Initially, Mann threatens, "I'm going to beat you with a crowbar until you leave." But being a pacifist, his boast falls flat, and eventually, the reclusive author agrees to travel to Iowa, but first they go to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park as foretold in his dream.
While at the game, Ray hears the message "go the distance" and then views the scoreboard that displays (only to him and Terrence) the name of a baseball player who played one game for the New York Giants in 1922, but never had a turn at bat. Consequently, Ray and Terrence go in search of Archibald "Moonlight" Graham who lives in Chisholm, Minnesota. He had become a doctor, but, as Ray soon finds out, died 16 years earlier.
Later that night, Ray takes a walk and is miraculously transported to the year 1972 where he meets Dr. Graham (Burt Lancaster). He tells Ray he decided to give up baseball to become a physician. He would surely love to have a chance to play the game again, but he declines to go with Ray, who then finds himself back in the present.
"Well, you know I... I never got to bat in the major leagues. I would have liked to have had that chance. Just once. To stare down a big league pitcher. To stare him down, and just as he goes into his windup, wink. Make him think you know something he doesn't. That's what I wish for. Chance to squint at a sky so blue that it hurts your eyes just to look at it. To feel the tingling in your arm as you connect with the ball. To run the bases - stretch a double into a triple, and flop face-first into third, wrap your arms around the bag. That's my wish, Ray Kinsella. That's my wish. And is there enough magic out there in the moonlight to make this dream come true? - Dr. Archibald "Moonlight" Graham
The next day Ray and Terrence Mann journey back to Iowa when they pick up a young hitchhiker who turns out to be Archie Graham as a young man (Frank Whaley). The three return to Ray's farm and Archie begins to play ball with the ghostly players on the field.
During the game, Ray's daughter falls off the bleachers. She is hurt and in need of medical assistance. Suddenly, the young Archie steps off the baseball field, and becomes the aging Dr. Graham and thus loses his chance to play baseball again. But his first love is medicine and so he chooses to assists the girl who was choking on a piece of hot dog. Dr. Graham dislodges the food from her throat.
All of the sudden, Ray's brother-in-law Mark (Timothy Busfield), who caused Karin to fall, looks at the baseball field and says, "Where did all these baseball players come from?" He was suddenly gifted with the ability to see the ghosts that Ray and his family had been seeing for months. Before the accident, Mark was urging Ray to sell his farm to avoid bankrupcy. He now has a change of heart and says, "Don't sell this farm."
With the emergency at an end, Dr. Graham bids farewell and walks toward the cornfield. Before he enters the stalks, Shoeless Joe Jackson yells, "Hey Rookie!" and tells Archie, "You were good." Later, the players beckon Terrence Mann to follow them. Ray wants to go, too, but he realizes he can't because he has must take care of his family.
|Terence Mann:||Ray, there was a reason they chose me, just as there was a reason they chose you and this field.|
|Terence Mann:||I gave an interview.|
|Ray Kinsella:||What interview? What are you talking about?|
|Terence Mann:||The one about Ebbets Field. The one that charged you up and sent you all the way out to Boston to find me.|
|Ray Kinsella:||You lied to me.|
|Terence Mann:||Well, you were kidnapping me at the time, you big jerk!|
|Ray Kinsella:||Well, you lied to me!|
|Terence Mann:||You said your finger was a gun!|
|Ray Kinsella:||That's a good point.|
|Terence Mann:||Ray. Ray. Listen to me, Ray. Listen to me. There is something out there, Ray, and if I have the courage to go through with this, what a story it'll make: "Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa".|
The last of the players to leave the field is Shoeless Joe Jackson. He reminds Ray "If you build it, HE will come." Suddenly, the ghost of Ray's father (Dwier Brown) appears dressed in a New York Yankees baseball uniform. He asks Ray, "Is this heaven, and Ray answers, "It's Iowa."
At age 17, Ray had argued with his father about the Black Sox scandal. After calling Shoeless Joe Jackson (his father's hero) a criminal, Ray left home and never saw his father again. When Ray told Mann he stopped playing catch with his dad at age 14 after reading his book, "The Boat Rocker," Terrence exclaimed, "You see? That's the sort of crap people are always trying to lay on me. It's not my fault you wouldn't play catch with your father."
As Ray and his father reunite over a game of catch, in the distance hundreds of car headlights head toward Ray's farm. They come to see and experience the wonder of the baseball field that Ray built. They come to relive the joy of baseball and happy memories of the game.
"Ray, people will come Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won't mind if you look around, you'll say. It's only $20 per person. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come." Terrence Mann
Note: Field of Dreams (1989) is based on the novel "Shoeless Joe" by W.P. Kinsella.