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Marketing Guides. Mothers Day. Native Advertising. Not on the High Street. Outdoor Advertising. Paddy Power. The Shoeless Joe movie, later renamed Field of Dreams, was turned away by studio after studio for being too esoteric or not commercial enough. It finally got the green light from Universal. But Costner was passed the script by a friend. Not many spouses would be so chirpy about their husbands plunging the family into financial ruin by turning their source of income into a sports field — especially not on the strength of ghostly voices telling them to do so.
Even Lancaster passed on the part at first but was persuaded to take it by a baseball-loving friend. T he real booming dramatics of the film would belong to James Earl Jones. The actor had impressed Phil Alden Robinson in a Broadway production of Fences and was cast as the reclusive writer Terence Mann, whose life Ray saves by taking him to a ball game and, erm, sending him off to heaven. Kinsella chose to write Salinger into his story because The Catcher in the Rye author was a such an entertainingly volatile recluse.
U nsurprisingly, Salinger was furious about his portrayal in the book. So Salinger was changed to the fictional Terence Mann for the movie version. The biggest casting decision was the field of dreams itself. There were geographical specifications needed for the shoot, particularly for capturing clear views of the sunset say what you will about the film, its sunsets are spectacular.
R obinson found the perfect farmhouse and land just outside Dyersville, Dubuque County. P roduction began in May A local expert told them when to plant it and when to expect it to be shoulder height. But the area suffered from the worst drought in 50 years; the corn was barely off the ground.
T here were further problems: hot, humid weather and swarming clusters of flies; dead, brown grass on the ball field which had to be painted a lush green; and strict time constraints, as Costner was contractually obliged to be on another film by August. For Robinson, the production problems and self doubt made it a punishingly hard shoot.
His love of the book was so deep that he batted himself daily with his own creative insecurities.
THIS WOULD DRIVE HIM CRAZY A PHONY ORAL HISTORY OF J.D. SALINGER by Tom Ruprecht
He was wrong, of course. The little film about the corn hit a huge home run. It opened in just 22 cinemas on April 21, , but ran for more than six months.
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He built it and they came alright: hundreds of thousands of movie and baseball fans from around the world who have made the pilgrimage to the movie site in the 30 years since. What the ghosts failed to whisper to Ray was how to manage the sometimes-troublesome tourist attraction. A fter production, Al Ameskamp ploughed and re-seeded his part of the field.
Fans left notes pleading with Ameskamp to restore his half of the field, which he eventually did.
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