The Catcher Was a Spy (film)

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The Catcher Was a Spy
The Catcher Was a Spy.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBen Lewin
Screenplay byRobert Rodat
Based onThe Catcher Was a Spy
by Nicholas Dawidoff
Produced by
  • Kevin Scott Frakes
  • Tatiana Kelly
  • Buddy Patrick
  • Jim Young
CinematographyAndrij Parekh
Edited byMark Yoshikawa
Music byHoward Shore
Distributed byIFC Films
Release dates
  • January 19, 2018 (2018-01-19) (Sundance)
  • June 22, 2018 (2018-06-22) (United States)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$953,953[1]

The Catcher Was a Spy is a 2018 American war film directed by Ben Lewin and written by Robert Rodat, based on the book of the same name by Nicholas Dawidoff. It stars Paul Rudd as Moe Berg, a former baseball player who joined the war effort during World War II and participated in espionage for the U.S. Government. Mark Strong, Sienna Miller, Jeff Daniels, Tom Wilkinson, Giancarlo Giannini, Hiroyuki Sanada, Guy Pearce, and Paul Giamatti also star. The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, and was released on June 22, 2018, by IFC Films.


Moe Berg, a 15-year baseball veteran, joins the war effort as a spy to beat Nazi Germany in the race to build the first atomic bomb. In 1936, Berg is playing for the Boston Red Sox near the end of a long if undistinguished pro career. On a goodwill baseball exhibition tour of Japan, Berg sneaks onto the roof of a Tokyo hospital to covertly film Tokyo's harbor and Navy shipyards. The Office of Strategic Services Chief to whom he presents the film is impressed by Berg’s enterprise, as well as the extensive language skills that Berg has picked up at Princeton and elsewhere, and Berg is hired. Werner Heisenberg, who won the Nobel Prize in 1932 for pioneering quantum physics, is now in charge of the Nazis’ attempts to create an atom bomb. If he succeeds, the Germans could win the war. Berg is smuggled into Italy and then Switzerland, with the task to discover if Heisenberg is anywhere near that goal. If so, it will fall to Berg to assassinate the brilliant physicist.



The project was announced on April 26, 2016, with Ben Lewin hired to direct, Robert Rodat tasked with adapting the biography, and Paul Rudd cast as Moe Berg; PalmStar Media would produce.[2]

In February 2017, Guy Pearce, Jeff Daniels, Paul Giamatti, Sienna Miller, and Giancarlo Giannini were added to the cast. Filming began on February 13, with filming locations being Prague and Boston.[3][4] Hiroyuki Sanada was cast in March,[5] with Tom Wilkinson, Connie Nielsen, and Shea Whigham joining in April.[6] Principal photography lasted for 30 days.[7]


The film was set to have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2017,[8] but the film was pulled out after it was realized that post-production was not completed in time.[9] It premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.[10] IFC Films acquired the film and set a release date of June 22, 2018.[11]


Box office[edit]

The Catcher Was a Spy made $114,771 from 49 theaters in its opening weekend, for an average of $2,459 per venue.[12]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 32% based on 75 reviews, with an average rating of 5.2/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Catcher Was a Spy loses sight of the most interesting elements of its fact-based story, dropping the ball and leaving likable lead Paul Rudd stranded."[13] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 49 out of 100, based on 27 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[14]


  1. ^ "The Catcher Was a Spy (2018)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved June 1, 2019.
  2. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (April 28, 2016). "Paul Rudd Set To Star As Moe Berg In Fact-Based WWII Tale 'The Catcher Was A Spy'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  3. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (February 9, 2017). "Paul Giamatti & Jeff Daniels Join Paul Rudd In 'Catcher Was A Spy'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  4. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (February 23, 2017). "Sienna Miller, Giancarlo Giannini Join 'The Catcher Was A Spy'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  5. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (March 1, 2017). "Hiroyuki Sanada Cast In 'The Catcher Was A Spy'; Talitha Bateman Boards 'Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  6. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (April 5, 2017). "Tom Wilkinson, Connie Nielsen & Shea Whigham Board 'Catcher Was A Spy'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  7. ^ Winter, Max (June 25, 2018). "How DP Andrij Parekh Used Noir Lighting to Modernize 'The Catcher Was a Spy'". No Film School. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  8. ^ "The Toronto International Film Festival unveils first slate of films for 2017". Toronto International Film Festival. July 25, 2017. Archived from the original on July 27, 2017. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  9. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (August 14, 2017). "'The Catcher Was A Spy' Starring Paul Rudd & Guy Pearce Pulled From TIFF". The Playlist. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  10. ^ Debruge, Peter (November 29, 2017). "Sundance Film Festival Unveils Full 2018 Features Lineup". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  11. ^ Lee, Ashley; Lewis, Hilary (May 1, 2018). "Paul Rudd Starrer 'Catcher Was a Spy' Goes to IFC Films". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  12. ^ Brooks, Brian (June 24, 2018). "'The King' Reigns Over Mixed Weekend of Openers; 'Won't You Be My Neighbor?' Expands Robustly: Specialty Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
  13. ^ "The Catcher Was a Spy (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  14. ^ "The Catcher Was a Spy Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 29, 2018.

External links[edit]