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Kevin Costner in FIELD OF DREAMS Screening

Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams
Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams
Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner in the days when he could do no wrong, is turning 20. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will celebrate the occasion by presenting a new print from the Academy Film Archive and Universal on Wednesday, December 16, at 7:30 p.m. at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

Hosted by Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan — one of those rare film reviewers worth paying attention to — the evening will also feature a cast-and-crew reunion that is scheduled to include actors Costner and Timothy Busfield; Oscar-nominated screenwriter Phil Alden Robinson, who also directed the movie; Oscar-nominated producers Charles Gordon and Lawrence Gordon; cinematographer John Lindley; and production designer Dennis Gassner.

Field of Dreams is the kind of movie that Frank Capra might have directed and Robert Riskin might have written for the screen back in the 1930s. Gary Cooper or perhaps James Stewart would have starred. Jean Arthur would have played the leading lady. I have mixed feelings about the Capra-Riskin collaborations, and Robinson's adaptation of W.P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe feels a little too nice even by Capra-Riskin standards.

Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, Gaby Hoffman, Dwier Brown in Field of Dreams

Needless to say, the first time I saw Field of Dreams I hated it with a passion. The second time around — it was a class assignment — I actually found it tolerable. The story about an Iowa farmer connecting with his long-dead father mixes traditional family values, sentiment, baseball, and corn fields — the kind of ingredients that normally give me serious indigestion. Yet, the film offers some good acting — Amy Madigan, Burt Lancaster, James Earl Jones (as reclusive author Terry Mann; J.D. Salinger in the book) — and good cinematography, and I must admit that the whole thing is ultimately quite harmless. Those who loved The Blind Side will probably love this one, too.

In the year Helen Mirren had hot sex inside a meat freezer in Peter Greenaway's brilliant The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover — totally ignored by the Academy — Field of Dreams, which has neither sex nor meat freezers, garnered three Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Screenplay based on material from another medium (Robinson), and Music – Original Score (James Horner).

Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, Gaby Hoffman in Field of Dreams

Tickets for “Field of Dreams” are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID, and may be purchased online at www.oscars.org, in person at the Academy box office or by mail. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The Samuel Goldwyn Theater is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. All seating is unreserved. For more information, call (310) 247-3600 or visit www.oscars.org.

Photos: Courtesy of the Margaret Herrick Library

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