Eight Men Out/Hoosiers/Raging Bull [3 Discs] [DVD]

This three-pack os sports dramas includes the John Sayles' baseball movie Eight Men Out, the high-school basketball underdog story Hoosiers, and Martin Scorsese's classic biopic of middleweight boxer Jake LaMotta, Raging Bull.
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Synopsis

Raging Bull
Martin Scorsese's brutal character study incisively portrays the true rise and fall and redemption of middleweight boxer Jake La Motta, a violent man in and out of the ring who thrives on his ability (and desire) to take a beating. Opening with the spectacle of the over-the-hill La Motta (Robert De Niro) practicing his 1960s night-club act, the film flashes back to 1940s New York, when Jake's career is on the rise. Despite pressure from the local mobsters, Jake trusts his brother Joey (Joe Pesci) to help him make it to a title bout against Sugar Ray Robinson the honest way; the Mob, however, will not cave in. Jake gets the title bout, and blonde teenage second wife Vickie (Cathy Moriarty), but success does nothing to exorcise his demons, even as he channels his rage into boxing. Alienating Vickie and Joey, and disastrously gaining weight, Jake has destroyed his personal and professional lives by the 1950s. After he hits bottom, however, Jake emerges with a gleam of self-awareness, as he sits rehearsing Marlon Brando's On the Waterfront speech in his dressing room mirror: "I coulda been a contender, I coulda been somebody." Working with a script adapted by Mardik Martin and Paul Schrader from La Motta's memoirs, Scorsese and De Niro sought to make an uncompromising portrait of an unlikable man and his ruthless profession. Eschewing uplifting Rocky-like boxing movie conventions, their Jake is relentlessly cruel and self-destructive; the only peace he can make is with himself. Michael Chapman's stark black-and-white photography creates a documentary/tabloid realism; the production famously shut down so that De Niro could gain 50-plus pounds. Raging Bull opened in late 1980 to raves for its artistry and revulsion for its protagonist; despite eight Oscar nominations, it underperformed at the box office, as audiences increasingly turned away from "difficult" films in the late '70s and early '80s. The Academy concurred, passing over Scorsese's work for Best Director and Picture in favor of Robert Redford and Ordinary People, although De Niro won a much-deserved Oscar, as did the film's editor, Thelma Schoonmaker. Oscar or no Oscar, Raging Bull has often been cited as the best American film of the 1980s. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi

Hoosiers
Hoosiers tells the true story of a group of underdogs who become champions. Set in the 1950s, Hoosiers is about a hard-luck, unemployed college basketball coach (Gene Hackman) who gets a chance to coach a small-town Indiana high-school basketball team. Facing resentment from the community and the team itself, Hackman manages to inspire his young athletes, leading them to the state championship with the help of the assistant coach (Dennis Hopper), who happens to be a recovering alcoholic. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

Eight Men Out
Writer/director John Sayles' dramatization of the most infamous episode in professional sports -- the fix of the 1919 World Series -- is considered by many to be among his best films and arguably the best baseball movie ever made. This adaptation of Eliot Asinof's definitive study of the scandal shows how athletes of another era were a different breed from the well-paid stars of later years. The Chicago White Sox owner, Charlie Comiskey (Clifton James), is portrayed as a skinflint with little inclination to reward his team for their spectacular season. When a gambling syndicate led by Arnold Rothstein (Michael Lerner) gets wind of the players' discontent, it offers a select group of stars -- including pitcher Eddie Cicotte (Sayles regular David Strathairn), infielder Buck Weaver (John Cusack), and outfielder "Shoeless" Joe Jackson (D.B. Sweeney) -- more money to play badly than they would have earned to try to win the Series against the Cincinnati Reds. Sayles cast the story with actors who look and perform like real jocks, and added a colorful supporting cast that includes Studs Terkel as reporter Hugh Fullerton and Sayles himself as Ring Lardner. ~ Tom Wiener, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Robert De Niro
    Robert De Niro - Jake LaMotta
  • Cathy Moriarty
    Cathy Moriarty - Vickie LaMotta
  • Joe Pesci
    Joe Pesci - Joey LaMotta
  • Frank Vincent
    Frank Vincent - Salvy
  • Nicholas Colasanto
    Nicholas Colasanto - Tommy Como

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