High and Outside: A Baseball Noir isn’t the run-of-the-mill baseball movie but a gripping drama depicting the relationship between father and son.
Directed by Evald Johnson from a script written by Dan O’Dair, the film also serves as the final role for the late character actor Geoffrey Lewis.
The son of baseball great Len Harding (Geoffrey Lewis in his final role), Phil Harding (Phil Donlon) is stll trying to make it to the Majors Leagues. The Sioux City Explorers served as his final shot to make it to The Game but things weren’t meant to be. Called into the Sanzone’s office, the manager informs Phil that he’s being let go. One can only imagine how many meetings such as this play along similar lines with the high amount of F bombs being dropped.
Without being able to play the game, Phil just isn’t the same person. He’s separated from his wife, Heather (Lindsey Haun), and without baseball, there’s no money coming in. Even though his father was once a baseball legend, Len is no longer the man he used to be either. It’s David (David Yow) who advises Len that his pension won’t allow for him to be able to keep his home and the retirement home is calling his name. With the amount of fan mail that he still receives at his age, it’s enough to consider charging for his autograph.
No stranger to baseball given his own dad’s involvement in the game, Johnson evokes some really great performances in the film, including the last great role for Lewis. Shot before he passed away of a heart attack in 2015, Lewis’ final role is nothing short of astonishing to say the least. Ernie Hudson might only appear very early on in the film but it’s a strong performance nonetheless as a baseball manager stuck with the hard job of releasing a player.
More than a baseball movie, High and Outside falls into the category of being a character study, what with the relationship between Phil and Len being what it is. Phil Harding is representative of so many minor league journeymen just hoping to get that chance at making the big leagues. For many of them, the call never comes and that’s just the way it is.
Paying more attention to the family drama than the crack of the bat, High and Outside: A Baseball Noir is a nice addition to the canon of baseball movies.
DIRECTOR: Evald Johnson
SCREENWRITER: Dan O’Dair
CAST: Phil Donlon, Geoffrey Lewis, David Yow, Lindsey Haun, Ernie Hudson, Eddie Jemison, Jason Richter, Scarlett Fay, Johnny Dowers, David Proval, Camilla Cleese, and Jason Wilson
Premiering at the 2017 Raindance Film Festival, High and Outside: A Baseball Noir was selected for the 2018 Cinequest Film and VR Festival.
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