Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Making of Major League by Jonathan Knight

Cody learns about the making of a beloved comedy.

Back in July, I wrote about the 1989 movie Major League, a sports comedy that I watched a good amount of times throughout my childhood. That revisiting of the film was inspired by the fact that publishers Gray & Company had been kind enough to provide me with a copy of Jonathan Knight's recently released book Major League: A Juuuust a Bit Inside Look at the Classic Baseball Comedy. Times have been hectic and I have only just been able to read the book in its entirety within the last month, but it was a quick and enjoyable read when I finally got a chance to sit down with it.

Over the course of 255 pages, Knight covers everything from the birth of writer/director David S. Ward's Cleveland Indians fandom in the late '40s - early '50s, when he witnessed the team's crushing loss in the 1954 World Series, to the massive fan base his film has enjoyed in the twenty-six years since its release.

Through interviews with Ward and all of the surviving major cast members, some of the extras, and various other behind-the-scenes players, as well as some screenplay excerpts and storyboards, Knight chronicles the making of the film from its inception through every step of production. A sports commentator in Northeast Ohio and the author of nine books about sports, Knight also knows a whole lot about the history of baseball, the Indians especially, and is able to share details on how the events of the film mirror real situations, and on the real world baseball players that have had similarities to the characters in the movie. I'm not a sports fan in the slightest, but reading these comparisons between the film and reality was fascinating to me.

Two sequels have followed Major League, and Knight touches on them, albeit briefly - step-by-step insight on the original is the book's focus. Knight also mentions the sequel script that Ward is hoping to get off the ground, a sequel that I would love to see happen soon. Reading this book has given me an even deeper appreciation for that movie I used to watch as a child, and after realizing just how expertly crafted Ward's original film was, I would be very excited to see the actors return to their characters nearly thirty years later for another season of fictional Cleveland Indians baseball.

If you're a fan of Major League, The Making of Major League is a must read, but even if you only have a passing interest in the movie, I would still recommend giving this book a look. You're very likely to come away from it with a greater enjoyment of the movie, as I did.

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