The Natural (1984)

PG  |   |  Drama, Sport  |  11 May 1984 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 33,156 users  
Reviews: 165 user | 52 critic

An unknown comes out of seemingly nowhere to become a legendary player with almost divine talent.



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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Sullivan Jr. ...
Rachel Hall ...
Robert Rich III ...


An unknown middle-aged batter named Roy Hobbs with a mysterious past appears out of nowhere to take a losing 1930s baseball team to the top of the league in this magical sports fantasy. With the aid of a bat cut from a lightning struck tree, Hobbs lives the fame he should have had earlier when, as a rising pitcher, he is inexplicably shot by a young woman. Written by Keith Loh <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The best there was! See more »


Drama | Sport


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

11 May 1984 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El mejor  »

Box Office


$28,000,000 (estimated)


$48,000,000 (USA)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (Director's Cut)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


While the story is an adaptation of the book by Bernard Malamud the plot has been changed for movie to be more "uplifting". Several characters and symbols are heavily influenced by the writings of Homer and Greek mythology: - the line, "Have you ever read Homer?"
  • Roy Hobbs = Odysseus. He is trying to "find his way" [home]

  • Max Mercy = Vulcan, God of Fire and Forging. He can "make or break you" and is always seen in red or brown clothing.

  • Pop Fisher = Zeus, King of the Gods. His uniform is #1 and both the oak tree and lightning bolt a la the Wonderboy bat are his symbols.

  • The Judge = Hades, God of the Underworld. He is always in the dark a.k.a. death, and the dead are "judged" in the underworld.

  • Memo Paris = Kalypso, a sea nymph who had an affair with Odysseus and held/distracted him from returning home; Kalypso means "I will conceal" in Greek.

  • Gus Sands = the Cyclops. Gus has the one strange eye.

  • Iris Gaines = Penelope, wife of Odysseus. Roy's true love from whom he was separated for 20 years while she raised their son.

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In Roy Hobb's final at bat, the first pitch is called a ball by the umpire, but the play-by-play man on the soundtrack calls it a strike. The Closed Captions have the Umpire calling strike as well as the radio play-by-play man. The Umpire also seems to have his calls mixed up, with no motion for the first "strike", and then a strike motion for the 2nd pitch a ball, which makes it obvious this was re-edited to accommodate the happier ending This would match the original ending, where Roy Hobbs would be striking out to the new Nebraska farm boy John Roades. See more »


Roy Hobbs: I'll take some coffee, then.
[Hobbs finds ball and glove on couch after viewing framed photos placed on furniture]
Iris Gaines: It's my son's. he means the world to me. he's a great kid.
Roy Hobbs: I'll bet he is. I'd like to meet him.
Iris Gaines: He's coming pretty soon.
Roy Hobbs: Is he with his father?
Iris Gaines: No. His father lives in New York. But, I'm thinking he needs his father; he's at that age. He needs him.
Roy Hobbs: Sure. A father makes all the difference.
Iris Gaines: [music starts as she turns her gaze away from the conversation and whispers] Yeah.
See more »


Referenced in Suburgatory: T-Ball & Sympathy (2013) See more »


Darktown Strutter's Ball
Written by Shelton Brooks
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Transcendence: Into The Light
31 May 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Spoilers Ahead:

What give this movie its power? Is it baseball? Is it the acting? No, it is deeply, powerfully moral. The morality of the movie decried and abused even way back in 1984 is why it resonates. The ending is meant to be supernatural; Levinson keeps Malumad's satanic imagery and transmutes it into the opposite. The lightning bolt that heralds Hobbs, a nickname for the Devil, by the way, into much more than a baseball player. His goodness is evinced in small ways, his befriending of all children, like Bobby, whose bat saves the team. The goodness he did comes back to him: what a great touch by the master director Levinson. He protects and sides with Pop and Red against the pure evil of the Judge. Notice he likes to live in the dark. He detests the light. Look, I did not write this; the imagery is undeniable. The morality in this movie could not be more dichotomous. Levinson that took a very dark, depressing book about a ballplayer who made a deal with the Devil to be famous; then he was destroyed at the end. The second lightning bolt was in the book; it showed the end of Hobbs.

Levinson and Redford wanted a completely different movie. Redford always likes damaged heroes who come back from great adversity to triumph. He always makes deeply moral films. THE RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT is quintessential Robert Redford. Here, Hobbs becomes the moral center of the team and a battle ensues for his soul with Iris representing goodness, family and God and Memo representing evil, corruption and selfishness. When Iris stands, watch for the sunlight behind her, it shines through her upon him and he hits the baseball shattering the clock and ending his slump Memo began. His stomach blows apart after Memo, urged on, puts that food in his mouth. One always gets the impression she was trying to kill him as she almost does when she tries to shoot him in the Judge's office when he throws the bribe back at him.

Baseball is the surface story if this were all there was it would be as brainless and arid as MAJOR LEAGUE or BULL DURHAM. What gives the movie its power is the moral conflict that underlies the surface; Hobb's soul is in play. The suffering he undergoes, the tragedy that befalls him, his struggle into the Light this is why it is a masterpiece. It is the struggle of all of us, one and all. The acting and the cast are without compare. Close was always an excellent actress, watch PARADISE ROAD, also Duvall, Prosky and Redford are above reproach. Wilford Brimley steals every scene he is in; but all the credit belongs to Barry Levinson who transformed a dark, depressing baseball novel into a morality piece without equal. The ending, which Siskel and Ebert mocked, is the highlight of the entire movie. For two and a half hours we have endured Hobbs struggle; the ending was never intended to be empirical, HELLO?, this is a supernatural film good versus evil. Like the clock, the light comes showering down upon him; I love the shot of the sparks flying in front of Memo and the Judge.

As you listen and watch him take that last stroll across the bases with the sparks transfiguring him with almost a nimbus ask yourself which would you like your children to emulate Roy Hobbs or SIN CITY? Good comes with a great price; it almost kills Hobbs but it is always the right choice, always.

29 of 31 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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