Friday, June 03, 2011

Michael Cimino as Zoilo Versailles

Not sure why but yesterday I was thinking about director Michael Cimino.

For those not familiar - Michael Cimino was a wonderkid director who was responsible for the multiple Academy Award winning The Deer Hunter who then directed the megabust Heaven's Gate which some people blame for taking down United Artists as a business. After Heaven's Gate Cimino did a couple more movies but then just pretty much faded into oblivion.

I started wondering if Michael Cimino was sports personality - who would he be? After doing some research I decided upon Zoilo Versailles.

Versailles was the AL MVP in 1965 playing shortstop for the Minnesota Twins at age 25. That season he led the AL in runs, doubles, triples and total bases. For the MVP award he beat out among others his teammates Tony Oliva and Harmon Killibrew as well as superstars like Brooks Robinson and Carl Yastrzemski. After that MVP season Versailles played a couple more subpar seasons but then just pretty much faded into oblivion.

Thinking of Cimino got me thinking about his masterpiece The Deer Hunter. This may be heresy but in my opinion Heaven Can Wait and Foul Play may actually be better movies from 1979 than The Deer Hunter. I know that I watch those two moves more often.

I'm not suggesting that The Deer Hunter or Zoilo Versailles' 1965 season weren't great but I will say that if you took Robert DeNiro and the cast from The Deer Hunter and had them in another drama instead of The Deer Hunter then chances are that other drama would have been equally good due to the talent involved. Likewise, could Versailles have led the league in runs if he didn't have Oliva and Killibrew hitting behind him? If Oliva and Killibrew had a different lead-off hitter chances are that guy would have scored 100 times.

Versailles was the near unanimous choice for AL MVP getting 19 out of 20 first place votes but if that MVP vote was taken today I'm guessing that Versailles may still win but it would be by a slim margin. Same is true with The Deer Hunter. If the Academy Award for 1979 was given out today - chances are The Deer Hunter still wins for Best Picture but do you think Michael Cimino still wins for Best Director?

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