Filmsite Movie 

Field of Dreams (1989)
Pages: (1) (2) (3)
Plot Synopsis (continued)

Annie's Visiting Disbelieving Family:

In the next scene on a Sunday afternoon during a mid-day dinner visit with Annie's family, Ray was warned by his brother-in-law Mark (Timothy Busfield), flanked by his wife Dee (Kelly Coffield), about going bankrupt and losing the farm by defaulting on his mortgage - unless he immediately sold the property:

This stupid baseball field's gonna bankrupt ya. Everybody knows it. Look, all I'm sayin' is, if you wait till you default on your loan, you're gonna lose everything. If you sell now, my partners will give you more than a fair price. You can walk away with a nest egg....What are you holdin' on to this place for? I mean, you never liked Iowa...You've never liked farming - it is true. You don't know the first thing about it...How could you plow under your major crop?

Mark was incredulous that his sister's husband was refusing an offer to be bailed out of debt ("He used to be so normal"), and was left there as Ray had abruptly gotten up from the table to watch baseball with Karin - on the field.

Practice Session: Shoeless Joe's Chicago White Sox Teammates:

There was a miraculous sight on a sunny afternoon when the ghosts of "Shoeless" Joe Jackson and his seven Chicago White Sox teammates were restored from the dead. They stepped out of the edge of the cornfield to play ball and find redemption, joy and rehabilitation with a second chance. Karin and Ray watched the exuberant players' practice session from the bleachers while eating shelled peanuts. Ray provided tips on the spirited play by commenting on the left-fielder - Joe Jackson: "When a pitcher gets a sign and starts a pitch, a good left fielder knows what pitch is coming, and he can tell from the angle of the bat which way the ball's gonna be." The good-natured players kidded each other about their play almost 69 years earlier, including:

  • Chick Gandil (1st base) (Art LaFleur)
  • Buck Weaver (3rd base) (Michael Milhoan)
  • Eddie Cicotte (pitcher) (Steve Eastin)
  • Swede Cisberg (catcher) (Charles Hoyes)

As Annie's family was leaving, they passed by the bleachers, but because they didn't believe, they could neither see nor hear the ghostly ballplayers behind them as they said goodbye to Ray and Karin. Mark was incredulous about Ray's statement that there were eight players ("baseball men") practicing on the field: "Eight of what?...Who them?" Annie's mother (Fern Persons) felt insulted by their fantasy game: "I don't think it's very polite to try to make other people feel stupid." After her family left in a huff, Annie remarked: "They couldn't see it."

With the sun setting after the practice game, the players were ready to hit the showers, while Ray was called in for dinner. They disappeared into the outfield's bordering cornfield as Ray called out: "See you guys." Player Eddie Cicotte mockingly joked: "I'm melting, I'm melting" (an oblique reference to The Wizard of Oz (1939)) as he faded from view. Contented by the day, as Ray strolled back to the house, he heard another disturbing message:

Ease his pain.

Ray stopped short and wondered to himself, as the camera spun around him: "What the hell does that mean? Ease his pain? What pain? All Right? Whose pain?", but there was no answer. In the house, Annie announced their expected attendance after dinner at the local PTA meeting: "They're talking about banning books again, really subversive books like The Wizard of Oz, Diary of Anne Frank," but then noticed Ray's agitation and worried reply: "The Voice is back." She quipped: "Oh Lord, you don't have to build a football field now, do ya?" Annie reacted to the new ambiguous message: "Ease his pain" - with her own assessment of the Voice: "This is a very non-specific Voice you have out there, and he's startin' to piss me off."

PTA Book-Banning Meeting:

At Karin's local Iowa City school during a PTA meeting in the school's auditorium, attended by Ray and Annie, irate mother Mrs. Beulah Gasnick/Kissinick (Lee Garlington) was at the microphone holding up Terence Mann's novel "The Boat Rocker" and complaining about its objectionable content: "And I say smut and filth like this has no place in our schools!" The spunky Annie turned toward Ray: "Fascist. I'd like to ease her pain." One of the PTA board members, Principal Mr. Harris (Mike Nussbaum) disagreed that it was smut and defended the author against the speaker's charges and other hecklers in the audience (Larry Brandenburg, Mary McDonald Gershon, and Robert Kurcz) who made accusations of pornography: "It is considered by many critics to be the classic novel about the 1960s...Terence Mann is a Pulitzer Prize winner. And he is widely regarded as the finest satirist of his time." Again, Annie voiced her opinion to Ray: "What planet are these people from?" The parent at the microphone disagreed with the Principal, and made further extreme personal accusations:

Mr. Harris, the so-called novels of Terence Mann endorse promiscuity, godlessness, the mongrelization of races, and disrespect to high-ranking officers of the United States Army. And that is why right-thinking school boards all across the country have been banning this man's S-H-I-T (spelled out) since 1969. (applause) You-you know why he stopped writing books. Because he masturbates!

Ray was distracted and doodling: "EASE HIS PAIN" in dark blue ink all over the front of a printed newsletter titled "CENSORSHIP NEWS" by the National Coalition Against Censorship. Suddenly, he recollected the name 'Terence Mann' - as Annie stood up to defend the author's honor against the slanderous insults:

Terence Mann was a warm and gentle voice of reason during a time of great madness. He coined the phrase: 'Make Love, Not War.' While other people were chanting 'Burn, baby, burn,' he was talking about love and peace and understanding. I cherished every one of his books, and I dearly wish he had written some more. And I think if you had experienced even a little bit of the sixties, you might feel the same way, too.

After claiming that she had lived in the '60s, the mother also criticized Annie's husband: "Well, your husband plowed under his corn and built a baseball field!...The weirdo!" Annie defended Ray: "At least he is not a book burner, you Nazi cow!" The back-and-forth conflict continued when the mother answered: "At least I'm not married to the biggest horse's ass in three counties!" Annie challenged the woman to a fight, but then suggested a more sane idea - a vote from the audience: "Who's for Eva Braun here? Who wants to burn books? Who wants to piss on the Constitution of the United States of America? Anybody?" (No one raised their hand) And then she offered a second option: "Now, who's for the Bill of Rights? Who thinks freedom is a pretty darn good thing? Come on! Come on! Let's see those hands. Who thinks that we have to stand up to the kind of censorship that they had under Stalin?" (Almost all hands were raised) Vindicated by the overwhelming vote against Neo-Fascism, Annie thanked everyone: "All right, there you go America, I love ya. I'm proud of ya."

Ray ushered her out into the school's hallway as he had another inspiration:

I figured it out...I know whose pain I'm supposed to ease....Terence Mann...That's whose pain.

She was uncertain about his new revelation: "Look, he's my favorite writer too, but what's Terence Mann got to do with baseball?"

Ray's Research on Writer Terence Mann:

In the reference section of the University of Iowa's library, Ray (in a Berkeley T-shirt, his alma mater?) perused old newspaper microfilms and located one article titled: "Where is Terence Mann now that we really need him?" He also studied a Time Magazine article ("Terence Mann - Still Ignoring Us After All These Years"), and two other reports: (1) Mann's arrest during a protest ("Five Arrested in Sit-in at New York University"), and (2) "20 Rumors About America's Greatest Living Writer." A Newsweek magazine cover portrayed Mann as a Pulitzer-Prize winner.

As he exited the library, Ray excitedly told a skeptical Annie about his findings - that Mann, a former activist, had become a computer software designer:

By the early Seventies, the guy decides people have become either too extremist or too apathetic to listen to him. So he stops writing books. He starts writing poetry - about whales and stuff. And then he starts fooling around with a home computer, and gets hooked. You know what he does now?...He writes software for interactive children's videos. They teach kids how to resolve their conflicts peacefully. God - what an amazing guy!

She asked: "What's that got to do with baseball?" Ray answered with what he thought was a conclusive connection:

In the April 1962 issue of Jet Magazine, there's a story of his called 'This Is Not A Kite.' OK, it's not his best work, but the hero of the story, a character that Mann created twenty-six years ago, is named John Kinsella - my father.

She annoyingly asked again: "What's it got to do with baseball?" As Annie drove their truck back to the farm, Ray further read from his xeroxed pages of notes as they arrived home, about how Mann had dreamed as a child about playing with the Dodgers at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field:

The last interview he ever gave was in 1973. Guess what it's about....Annie, the guy was a baseball fanatic! Listen to this: 'As a child, my earliest recurring dream was to play at Ebbets Field with Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Of course, it never happened, and the Dodgers left Brooklyn, and they tore down Ebbets Field. But even now, I still dream that dream.'... The man wrote the best books of his generation. He was a pioneer in the civil rights and the anti-war movement. I mean, he made the cover of Newsweek. He knew everybody. He did everything. And he helped shape his time. I mean, the guy hung out with the Beatles! But in the end, it wasn't enough. What he missed was baseball!

Semi-mocking Ray's enthusiasm, Annie expressed astonishment at one of the findings: "As a small boy, he had a bat named 'Rosebud.'" Ray grabbed his notes back and continued: "The guy hasn't been to a live baseball game since 1958." She guessed how Ray would 'ease' Mann's pain:

So, in order to ease his pain, you're supposed to take him to a ball game?

Ray agreed that his new plan was nutty, but not quite as "weird" as his crazy idea to build the baseball field. She wanted to curtail another one of Ray's fantastic fantasies ("primal forces of nature") to prove himself to his father - stressing that now he had gone too far:

I'm sorry, pal. I'm gonna have to nip this one in the bud. We are having moderate-to-heavy financial difficulties here. And you can't take off for Boston while we're goin' broke in Iowa....Yeah, but why do you have to go? Why can't the voice send somebody else? How about Shirley MacLaine? What, is she too busy? What does this have to do with you?...Ray, we are behind on the mortgage. That field ate up all of our savings. We could lose this farm....I understand your need to prove to yourself and to the world you are not turning into your father, but you've done it! Look! You believed in the magic. It happened. Isn't that enough?

Ray was able to convince Annie to carry through with his unusual reasoning, and attend a ballgame at Fenway Park in Boston with Mann - attending his first game in 30 years:

I know this is totally nuts, but there's another reason I'm supposed to do it. I feel it. I feel it as strongly as I've ever felt anything in my life. There's a reason....I think something's gonna happen at the game. I don't know what, but there's something at Fenway Park, and I gotta be there with Terence Mann to find it out.

When they both revealed to each other that they had just had the same identical dream of Ray attending the game with Mann - sitting halfway up on the aisle on the first-base side of Fenway Park (and eating a hot dog while keeping score) - Annie quickly acquiesed to Ray's plan to drive to Boston - and volunteered to help him pack.

Ray's Visit with Terence Mann in Boston:

Ray traveled to Boston in a red-white VW mini-van (with a peace symbol on his front windshield), to the tune of The Allman Brothers' "Jessica." As he drove along, he repeatedly rehearsed his opening lines to the writer, eventually shortening a polite old-fashioned introduction to a hold-up and baseball game kidnapping: "All right, stupid, put your hands up and get in the trunk!" At Hymie's, a Jewish Kosher-Food specialty meat-shop in Boston, he asked if the manager/butcher (Don John Ross) knew where to locate Terence Mann, and was told: "If he was much of a friend, he could give you the directions himself." He was rejected by an annoyed, elderly Jewish Yenta (Bea Fredman) with a cane on the street ("You're a pest!"), and at a gas station, the Celtics cap-wearing, teenaged Pump Jockey named Charlie (Geoffrey Nauffts) pocketed a $5 bill for providing directions to Mann's residence two blocks away ("First door that don't have a chicken in the window is his").

Ray entered an unmarked door between two Jewish orthodox poultry stores on Harvard Street, and at the foot of the dark stairway noted a mailbox with a worn sign: Tie Dyed Software. Standing in front of the door at the top of the stairs after not finding a door buzzer, Ray pulled on a weight hanging vertically on a chain - and when the door opened, he was face-to-face with the controversial 60s writer - a disillusioned and reclusive, J.D. Salinger-like Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) - who greeted him gruffly: "Who the hell are you?" When Ray held out his hand to introduce himself, the door was abruptly shut in his face. He daringly pulled the chain a second time - and Mann was now angry: "We got a learning disability here?" Mann was obviously fed up and refused to be bothered by anyone: "Look. I can't tell you the secret of life, and I don't have any answers for you. I don't give interviews, and I'm no longer a public figure. I just want to be left alone. So piss off." However, when Ray begged for just a moment of time and claimed he had driven 1,500 miles cross-country "at the risk of losing my home and alienating my wife," he was granted one minute of access.

Mann's large spacious loft apartment had two workbench tables with computer monitors, piled-up books, a desk area, and other shelving with framed pictures, stereo electronic equipment and stacks of cassette tapes. As Ray rambled on about respecting Mann's privacy, he was rapidly using up his time, as Mann stressed: "I don't do causes anymore." Ray was clear about his intentions:

This isn't a cause. I don't need money, or an endorsement...You once wrote: 'There comes a time when all the cosmic tumblers have clicked into place, and the universe opens itself up for a few seconds, to show you what's possible.'

Mann realized he was speaking to a 60s decade devotee and baby-boomer, and quickly wielded a pump-action bug sprayer to send the crazed individual from the past "back to the 60s - no place for you here in the future. Get back while you still can!" Before the door closed on him, Ray noted how Mann had given up:

Ray: You've changed, you know that?
Mann: Yes. I suppose I have. How's this? (he smiled and made a peace sign) 'Peace, love, dope.' (roaring mad and angry) Now get the hell outta here!

After the door slammed in his face, Ray realized that the door was not entirely shut. He stealthily opened the door and entered, observing the curmudgeonly Mann seated at his desk at the far end of the room. With his hand in the right pocket of his leather jacket, Ray approached toward Mann and pretended that he was armed. Mann didn't believe Ray, but not willing to take any chances, stood up and surrendered, as Ray explained his objective: "I'm not going to hurt you, I just need you to go with me for a little while." Things became heated when Mann threatened Ray with a crowbar, but then realized that he couldn't strike anyone due to his pacifist leanings, and he lowered his make-shift weapon. Ray admitted that he was only reluctantly kidnapping Mann in order to take him to a Fenway Park ball-game - the evening's contest between the Red Sox and the A's:

Ray: Something will happen there. I don't know what, but we'll find out when it does...My name is Ray Kinsella. You used my father's name for a character in one of your stories. John Kinsella.
Mann: You're seeing a whole team of psychiatrists, aren't you?
Ray: I don't blame you (laugh) for thinking that, but no, I'm not. I swear to God, I'm the least crazy person I have ever known.
Mann: Then why are you kidnapping me to a baseball game?...
Ray: I read an interview you gave a long time ago about how you always dreamed of playing at Ebbets Field, and how sad you felt when they tore it down.
Mann: I never said that.
Ray: You didn't?
Mann: I don't even recall thinking that.

Ray was confounded by the admission - and bounced his head against a bookcase ("Weird!"), but then promised to tell Mann the whole unusual "good story" of what brought him there while on the way to the game ("Just come to this game with me, I swear to God, I will never bother you again, not even, not even a Christmas card").

At Fenway Park with Mann:

After entering Fenway Park as they proceeded to their seats, Mann described his daily routine to Ray: "I live, I work. I learned to cook. I take walks. I watch sunsets." He admitted he didn't miss being 'involved' in politics or the civil rights movement:

I was the East Coast distributor of 'involved.' I ate it and drank it and breathed it. Then they killed Martin and Bobby, they elected Tricky Dick twice, and now people like you think I must be miserable because I'm not involved anymore. I've got news for you: I spent all my misery years ago. I have no more pain left for any of you. I gave at the office....I want them to stop looking to me for answers, begging me to speak again, write again, be a leader. I want them to start thinking for themselves. And I want my privacy!

Ray had actually asked what Mann 'wanted' to eat - and pointed to the refreshment stand to offer him "a dog and a beer." Ray paid $10 bucks for the two identical orders. Ray agreed with Mann's desire for privacy, but asked why he had stopped writing. Mann replied that he was no longer interested in notoriety, fame, or attention:

I haven't published a word in 17 years and I still have to endure lunatics like you. What do you think would happen if I suddenly came out with a new book? They'd bleed me dry.

During the game at around 10:30 pm, as they sat on the aisle about halfway up on the first-base line, Ray heard another voice: "Go the distance." Simultaneously, the giant video Jumbotron scoreboard in the outfield flashed a white textual message over the current image - an unusual baseball statistic from 66 years earlier:


[Note: Archibald Wright "Moonlight" Graham was an actual historical figure who lived from 1876-1965. He was a baseball player (with mostly a short career in the minors in the early 1900s), whose major profession became medicine, with a practice in the town of Chisholm, Minnesota. He was an actual baseball statistic with only a single appearance in the major leagues, as a right-fielder for the New York Giants on June 29, 1905, but the screenplay changed his lone appearance year from 1905 to 1922.]

On his Red Sox Scorecard & Roster while keeping score, Ray wrote down the message, and suddenly realized (since his seat-mate seemed to have not seen the message) that Mann's presence wasn't necessary for him to experience what he was meant to see: "I guess you didn't have to be here." They abruptly decided to leave the game.

As Ray's van pulled up in front of Mann's residence, Mann was curious about what Ray was NOT telling him. As Mann exited the vehicle, he told Ray: "I wish I had your passion, Ray. Misdirected though it might be, it is still a passion. I used to feel that way about things, but...You got another message, didn't you?" Ray admitted that he had, but didn't reveal the truth: "It said, 'The man's done enough. Leave him alone.'" When Ray pulled his vehicle around, Mann was standing in the street, blocking his way, and shouting out: "Moonlight Graham."

Ultimately in a subtle way, Mann admitted that he had seen the message. Ray anxiously asked for the meaning of the phrase: "Go the distance" - and Mann told him that it was a literal message - they were destined to drive the 'distance' together to Minnesota to find "Moonlight" Graham, although Mann remained skeptical: "I don't believe I'm doing this."

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