POP ART: Episode 78, Bull Durham/This Sporting Life–It Takes Balls

Howard Casner • April 25, 2022

POP ART, WHERE I FIND THE POP CULTURE IN ART AND THE ART IN POP CULTURE. Join me and podcaster, blogger and film enthusiast Richard Kirkham as we discuss Bull Durham and This Sporting Life, two films about athletes in existential crises.

I know what you’re thinking. What happened to Episode 77. Well, we recorded that episode on 2001 and Solaris twice, but Skype failed to download it. But everything seems fine now and we should be doing that episode in the near future. For some illogical reason, I decided to keep it Episode 77. Don’t ask me.  

IT TAKES A LOT OF BALLS: I believe in the Church of Baseball. It’s spring when a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of…sports; or sport for our English listeners. Yes, sounds like it’s time for Episode 78 of Pop Art, where we find the pop culture in art and the art in pop culture. It’s the podcast where my guest chooses a movie from popular culture, and I’ll select a film from the more art/classic/indie side of cinema with a connection to it. This time round, I am happy to welcome back, for the fourth time, Richard Kirkham, who has chosen as his film the Ron Shelton low key classic Bull Durham, while I have chosen the Lindsay Anderson’s angry young man, kitchen sink drama This Sporting Life, both films about athletes going through an existential crisis.

And in this episode we answer such questions as: What is it about sports films? What does it mean to win by losing? What do the writers of both films have in common? What happened during the Broadway production of David Storey’s The Changing Room that didn’t shock little old ladies? Where did the names come from? If a baseball player hits the bull do they really get a free steak dinner? How does Ron Shelton resemble his Bull Durham hero? How does Lawrence Olivier fit in? Who did the producers of Bull Durham want for Tim Robbin’s role first and how did Ron Shelton react? Why were young men angry in Britain?