The Natural (1984)
Frequently Asked Questions
She is a serial killer targeting the "greatest" in each sport. On the train to Chicago, Max mentions news stories about great athletes in other sports being murdered. These are her doing. For baseball, she originally targeted The Whammer, but switched to Roy after he struck out The Whammer on three straight pitches.
In the novel, it is clear that she is insane and is obsessed with killing any athlete who does not play the game for the "right" reasons. She asks Roy why he plays, and this is a form of the heroes test which he fails and as a result she shoots and tries to kill Roy. Like the movie, originally she had intended to kill The Whammer, but when Roy strikes him out she switches her attention to Hobbs.
Yes, the beginning is a thinly veiled retelling of an incident that happened to Eddie Waitkus in 1949. Waitkus, who as a rookie had been dubbed "a natural," was a two time National League All-Star who was lured to a unknown woman's hotel room. The woman, an obsessed fan, couldn't stand to live without Waitkus playing for the Chicago Cubs after he had been traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. She shot him in the stomach and was later determined insane and committed to an institution. Unlike Roy Hobbs in The Natural, Waitkus was only sidelined for a couple of months and played major league baseball for another six years.
The rest of the story deals with professional ballplayers and the influence of gambling on the sport. This is based upon the 1919 Black Sox scandal, where several Chicago White Sox players conspired to throw the World Series in exchange for payoffs from gamblers. Roy Hobbs is loosely based on "Shoeless" Joe Jackson who was permanently banned from the game and faded into history, much like Roy did between Acts I and II. Jackson's participation in the scheme is still hotly debated even to this day and many feel he was unjustly banned without actual proof.
Bernard Malamud, in addition to using real people and events as the basis of the story, wove many elements from Medieval literature into the story's narrative. The name of the fictional team is the Knights, which is a prominent feature of ancient legends. Roy's name is taken from "Roi," the French word for king and "Hobbs" is related to horse, a fixture for the medieval knight. The Knights spend the summer in a quest to win the League pennant, a substitute for the Holy Grail of legend. The manager Pop Fisher's name is taken from the legend of The Fisher King, which tells the story of a king whose kingdom is slowly dying and which he's incapable of saving. As he watches it slowly become a wasteland, he awaits the arrival of some knight who may be able to save him and his land from its inevitable destruction, a theme that describes Roy Hobbs' arrival to the Knights. Roy's resemblance to a knight s strengthened by "Wonderboy" with his bat made from a tree struck by lightening, which resembles Excalibur from the Arthurian legends.
Yes. The Natural is based on the 1954 novel of the same name by Bernard Malamud.
One big change is that Roy did not know Iris from his youth and does not discover years later that she had a child by him. In the book he meets her much as he reunites with her in the movie, at the ballpark during a game. They have a brief relationship which he ends so that he can stay with Memo, but when he later discovers iris is pregnant with his child, he decides to be with her instead of Memo.
The main difference is at the end as the book has a tragic ending instead of the typical happy Hollywood ending found in the film. In the film Roy Hobbs refuses the Judge's offer to throw the game and hits a game winning home run. In the novel In the novel Roy agrees to take the Judges' money to throw the climatic game, but when discovers Iris is pregnant with his child, changes his mind and tries to renege on the scheme. At the crucial moment Roy unintentionally strikes out and the game ends with the Knights losing the pennant and Pop his share of the team. Roy's disgrace is magnified when Max Mercy discovers that Roy took money to throw the game which will lead to his inevitable banning from baseball. The film also contains a number of other differences. The filmmakers have stated that the film was not meant to be a literal adaptation of the novel. If the original tragic ending had been used the movie would not have done as well at the box office.