AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Bull Durham
Director: Ron Shelton (Dir)
Release Date:   15 Jun 1988
Duration (in mins):  106
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Cast: Kevin Costner  (Crash Davis)
  Susan Sarandon  (Annie Savoy)
  Tim Robbins  (Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh)

Summary: Annie Savoy attends a minor league baseball game in her hometown of Durham, North Carolina. Annie, who sleeps with a different player on the Durham Bulls team every year, swears by her ability to improve a player’s performance by making love to him for the duration of the season. As the game is about to start, head coach Joe “Skip” Riggins finds new pitcher Ebby Calvin LaLoosh having sex with a local girl named Millie in the locker room. Skip berates Ebby, reminding him that he is about to make his professional debut. In the stands, Millie informs Annie that Ebby’s lovemaking is like his pitching, “sort of all over the place.” After the game, veteran player Crash Davis arrives and Skip offers to hire him as the new catcher, hoping Crash will mentor Ebby. Although Crash feels he is too old for the sport, he accepts. Later, the team unwinds at a local bar where Crash flirts with Annie but says he does not dance. Ebby interrupts to thank Annie for a note she sent him during the game, and the two men fight over her. Taking their quarrel outside, Crash challenges Ebby to throw a baseball at his body, but Ebby misses. Humiliated, Ebby charges at him, but Crash punches Ebby, then introduces himself as the new catcher. Annie invites both men to accompany her back home, where she informs them of her habit of sleeping with a new player each season. Although she announces that Crash and Ebby are her top contenders, Crash turns her down, offended. Puzzled by his rejection, Annie returns to Ebby, who allows her to tie him to the bed but becomes disappointed when she remains clothed and reads aloud from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Although they do not sleep together that night, Annie and Ebby become a couple and she nicknames him “Nuke,” a name the other players embrace. Crash continues to clash with Nuke and warns him that his slovenly ways will never get him into the major leagues, which Crash refers to as “the show.” During his first game for the Bulls, Crash strikes out, distracted by thoughts of Annie. She sends him a note with a suggestion about his form and offers to work with him. The two go to a batting cage, where Annie admits she looked up Crash’s record and discovered he is twenty homeruns away from setting a minor league record. Ignoring her encouragement, Crash suggests they make love, but Annie says she is monogamous during the baseball season. Later, Annie accidentally calls Nuke “Crash” during sex. At the next game, Nuke rejects Crash’s signals for pitches, and Crash retaliates by alerting a hitter he is about to throw a fastball. The player hits a homerun off the pitch, and Nuke learns his lesson, following Crash’s signals for the rest of the game. Under Crash’s direction, Nuke’s pitching improves but remains inconsistent. As the team leaves town for a series of away games, Annie gives Nuke a garter belt as a parting gift and urges him to wear it under his uniform, promising the lingerie will put him in a different state of mind. On the team bus, Crash reveals he played in the major leagues for twenty-one days and suggests Nuke lacks the passion required to succeed in “the show.” The Bulls begin a losing streak on the road, but Crash hits well. When they return to Durham, Crash watches jealously as Annie greets Nuke at the bus. Suiting up for another game, Crash catches Nuke putting on Annie’s garter belt in the locker room. Embarrassed, Nuke explains Annie’s theory that the garter belt will keep his brain off-center, and also reveals that she ordered him to follow Crash’s signals. Although the first inning is rocky, Nuke’s pitching improves, and Crash hits a homerun. Later in the game, Crash instructs Nuke to throw a pitch at the mascot, and the wild ball successfully confuses the hitter, who strikes out afterward. The Bulls begin a winning streak, and Nuke frustrates Annie by swearing off sex as long as they continue to win. With Annie suffering from lack of sex, the team reaches a tie for first in the minor leagues. Nuke reveals to Crash that he is rechanneling his sexual energy, and Crash encourages him to remain celibate. Nuke relays Crash’s advice to Annie, who goes to Crash’s apartment and berates him for interrupting her sex life. While arguing, Annie is overcome with passion and declares that she wants Crash. He rejects her playfully and she announces this is the strangest baseball season of her life. When the team finally loses a game, Nuke brings his father to meet Annie at her house. They are interrupted by a phone call from Skip Riggins, who reports that a major league team wants Nuke, and he must leave the next morning. Elated, Nuke shares a heartfelt goodbye with Annie and returns her garter belt. Later that night, Nuke finds Crash drunk at a pool hall and tells him the good news. Complaining that Nuke is not worthy of his talent, Crash provokes a fight, but Nuke punches him cold. The next day, Crash enters the locker room with a black eye to reconcile with Nuke before he leaves, encouraging the pitcher to remain cocky despite the difficult hitters he will be up against. After the next Bulls game, Skip tells Crash that the manager wants to replace him with a young catcher now that Nuke is gone. Dejected, Crash goes to Annie’s house and she offers him a drink, knowing that he has been let go. The two share a passionate night of lovemaking, but Crash leaves early in the morning and Annie finds a note that he has left town to play for another team. Soon after, Crash breaks the minor league record for homeruns; although Annie takes notice, the accomplishment does not make sports news. One day, Annie comes home from a rained out game to find Crash, who quit his team after setting the record. Annie informs him that she has decided to quit “boys,” and Crash tells her he might take a manager position next season. When Annie excitedly rambles about Crash’s abilities, he begs her not to intellectualize and leads her inside to dance.  

Distribution Company: Orion Pictures Corporation
Production Company: Mount Company
Director: Ron Shelton (Dir)
  David V. Lester (Unit prod mgr)
  Richard J. Kidney (1st asst dir)
  Nina Kostroff (2d asst dir)
  Donald J. Lee, Jr. (2d 2d asst dir)
  Michael Samson (DGA trainee)
  Gene Corr (2d unit dir)
  Ken Goch (1st asst dir, 2d unit)
Producer: Thom Mount (Prod)
  Mark Burg (Prod)
  David V. Lester (Exec prod)
  Charles Hirschhorn (Assoc prod)
Writer: Ron Shelton (Wrt)

Subject Major: Baseball
  Baseball players
  North Carolina
  Sports fans
Subject Minor: Aging
  Walt Whitman

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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