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It's for all time; a baseball mythos
Hitchcoc23 March 2006
Whenever "The Natural" is on TV, I stop what I'm doing and watch it. I don't know why, exactly. I have been a baseball fan since I was a little kid and love the tradition. There is no other sport that has as much history. It's because one can isolate moments in time. Situations develop. Every announcer says things like, "Bottom of the third, men on first and third, Turley on the mound, Simpson is up, he's two for four today. The wind is blowing out to right field, etc." We can make words visual. In this wonderful movie, a man wants a piece of that tradition. He makes a horrible mistake along the way to the big leagues, and now is given one last chance. This is mythical. This is not realistic. To criticize it on the basis of its credibility is unfair. Even to compare it to the book is unfair. They are totally different. What one does with a camera should not be compared to the printed page. Malamud did his thing and now Barry Levinson is doing his. The cinematography is without peer. It is magical all the way through. The lighting as Glenn Close stands up in the stands is mesmerizing. This is more Greek myth than baseball story, but it is a baseball story, with the Ruth like gods and the day-to-day players. Roy Hobbs is like all of us in some ways and we love him for his endurance, patience, and drive. Redford brings him to life with that rugged face moving away from lost youth. It's a fine film.
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My favorite baseball movie. Truly magical.
Stephen Alfieri27 April 2004
A wonderful, magical fairy tale, and morality play. This is the type of movie that as a new father, I cannot wait until my son is old enough to watch this with me.

I know much has been made about Redford being too old to play Roy Hobbs. But much of the story asks you to believe in incredible things, so to me, this is a minor issue.

Everything about this movie is first rate. The cast which includes Redford, Glenn Close, Kim Basinger, Wilford Brimley and a pair of terrific performances turned in by Robert Duval and Darren McGavin.

It is easy to see that all of the actors trust the material and believe in their characters.

Barry Levinson tells the story in a straight forward style, he doesn't try to build any false suspense or surprise twists. When you watch this movie you know exactly what is going to happen long before it does, but you don't care, because it unfolds intelligently and without pretense.

My two favorite components of this movie are the cinematography by Caleb Deschanel and the beautiful, moving score composed by Randy Newman. I first enjoyed Mr. Deschanel's work on "Being There", and felt Mr. Newman's score for "Ragtime" was the best score of 1981.

"The Natural" is so much more than a baseball movie. It is a story about faith, good and evil, right and wrong, fathers and sons. It is about all that is good in baseball and in life.

10 out of 10
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The Ultimate Sports Fantasy Movie
ccthemovieman-125 October 2005
This is THE classic sports-Walter Mitty-fantasy movie, with an ending that may seem corny to cynical critics or those who prefer the book, but was perfect for me and a lot of other people.

Granted, I am a little biased in my review since the movie was made in the area in which grew up. Having made many trips to the ballpark in which the movie was filmed, and to the old-fashioned soda shoppe where Robert Redford and Glenn Close re-unite, this movie was special to all of us in Western New York. It always a kick, too, (and a bit odd) to watch the final scene since the opposing pitcher is a personal friend.

I think I would have loved this movie regardless of the "home-field advantage." It's an interesting, involving story that has you really rooting for Redford's character. To have actors like Close, Robert Duvall, Richard Farnsworth, Kim Basinger, Wilfred Brimley, Darren McGavin, Barabara Hershey, Robert Prosky, Joe Don Baker and others in the "lineup" doesn't hurt, either!

The cinematography is beautiful, too. That was something I never really appreciated until after several viewings. There are some wonderfully subdued brown and golden hues in here. This is very pretty motion picture.

All the characters - the good and the bad, and there are plenty of both - are fascinating. It's also nice to see an actor in a baseball film that actually knows how to throw, hit and field a baseball. This is a great, old-fashioned storytelling.
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A delightful fable pulled off believably and
MiriamEB6 July 2000
I really enjoyed watching this movie. It seems like the very embodiment of the Hollywood cliche - a noble hero overcoming difficulty to achieve his dream...but somehow, The Natural manages to pull it off in a very un-glamorized way. Take the hero - he's 35 years old! It just seems refreshing not to always have a dashing young fellow of twenty as the main character. And then - an ulcerated stomach? What kind of an obstacle is that? Not a Hollywood one, I'll tell you that. This hero is actually believable - and Robert Redford plays him handsomely. He makes Roy Hobbs a real person, and a gentleman. I recommend The Natural for any Robert Redford fan, baseball fan - and anyone who just wants to see a neat, entertaining movie with a main character you can really root for.
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For Father and Son
pricerc25 April 2004
My son and I have watched this movie twice together. I can't think of any other movie we have watched twice--together. I'm 60 and my son is 26. There is the element of magic, of fairy-tale, of other-worldliness; there is the element of the naturalness, the character of Robert Redford; there is the element of baseball, the great sport-love of millions of boys in North America--and me back in the 1950s when I was growing up and dreamed of going to the majors; there's a touch of the sexual with Kim Basinger and Barbara Hershey----one could go on listing the pluses that this movie brings to the viewers. But I think what makes the movie in the end is the magic of Roy Hobbs as he hits a baseball further and harder than anyone ever has or(probably) ever will. Hobbs is the quintessence of the baseball hero and for sports lovers that's their religion. Hobbs is like Jesus come down to earth in the form of a baseball player, yet with sins of omission and commission. So, he's human and a superhero all at once.
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Book Schmook! The Movie is VASTLY superior!
budmassey21 January 2004
As a writer, I am often compelled to read the books on which my favorite movies are based. Since its original release, I have loved The Natural as one of my favorite movies of all time, but it was only recently that I read Bernard Malamud's novel on which the movie was based. I cannot tell you how disappointed I was.

Malamud was a great writer, and was best known for winning a Pulitzer and the National Book award for The Fixer. His award winning work usually dealt with themes closer to his own heart, and Malamud didn't seem to "get" baseball in this book. Either that, or he had some axe to grind about baseball, and wanted us to hate it and all the people involved in it.

The Natural was Malamud's first novel and, as such, it suffers from shallow, simplistic characters, a muddy, at times almost unintelligible plot, and poorly attenuated subplots that almost seem like afterthoughts or clumsy devices slathered on to shore up weak story objectives. He does, however, have a historical understanding of baseball, and most of the events related to baseball in this story are composites of everything from the Black Sox to Babe Ruth to Christie Matheson and a string of other legends.

The main character, Roy Hobbs, is almost certainly based on the real life character Eddie Waitkus, and Malamud does little to imbue him with likable traits that would deepen him as a literary character. He even throws in a little Joe Jackson to compromise the character even further. The fact that he is called "Roy" is an obvious allusion to Sir Thomas Malory's 15th century opus "Le Morte D'Arthur." (Recall that "roi" is French for "king.") Why Malamud chose this story as a model is a mystery, since although he goes to great lengths to reinforce the Aurthurian connection (the baseball team is called the "Knights", the bat, "Wonderboy" is obviously "Excalibur"), he creates little of the Arthurian heroism in Roy Hobbes, or, for that matter, the sport of baseball as an allegory for the jousting of Chivalric heroes.

The character of The Whammer, played in the movie beautifully, if all too briefly, by Joe Don Baker, is more Ruth than Ruth, but he's gone in a flash, leaving yet another heroic void in the original story. And the women in The Natural are shallow, conniving and cheap and I have never been able to understand Malamud's literary allusions with regard to Morgan LeFave and Guinnevere, the women in Arthur's life. The Bad Guys in the book are ALL Bad, everyone else is mostly neutral, and there isn't any real good, or anything uplifting or affirming or positive in the whole thing.

Thank god for the movie. Barry Levinson's direction is gilded and glowing, and the whole film has a luminous aura that seems magical and enchanted and, compared to the wooden novel from which it came, a satisfying recast of the Arthurian legend. The screenplay was done by Roger Towne, who recently gave us The Recruit, and the changes he made to the story make all the difference in the world; less literary, perhaps, but more beautiful and elegant and not nearly so cynical and pessimistic. Compared to the Levinson/Johnson magic, the novel is almost amateurish, and recalls Ayn Rand's facile characters and stories, didactic and pedantic, and almost completely obscuring the Arthurian magic that Levinson coaxes from the story.

Once, when I had the chance to mention personally to Mark Johnson how beautiful The Natural was, he responded with a sincere modesty that fit the innocent tone of the movie, and he even gave me a keepsake from the film that I have to this day as a reminder of just how amazing an achievement this movie was, coming from so flawed a novel.

This was the first movie in which I loved Redford. He was older and deeper as an actor, and this was the beginning of his real golden age. Glenn Close was delightfully virginal and beautiful as a character almost completely created by the screenwriter, not the novelist. Kim Basinger is gorgeous and dangerous as the femme fatal, a portrayal that she would echo in her Oscar winning turn in L.A. Confidential.

Randy Newman's brilliant score was recycled a dozen times in subsequent movies, but none captured the beauty and nostalgia of The Natural. There are only a handful of movies so magnificently driven by their score, and The Natural remains Newman's best and most satisfying work.

In short, this is the best baseball movie ever. Whereas Malamud wanted to show baseball as jaundiced and commercial, Towne's screenplay shows us the baseball we loved as kids, and more. Malamud's dark and wholly unsatisfying ending is also rewritten, and if you find the final scene a little sweet, ask yourself if you really wanted to see the dismal finale that Malamud supplied.
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Superb Film
jmorrison-224 June 2005
One of my all time favorites. Everything about this movie appears authentic. From the time period, to the baseball scenes. These guys really look like a baseball team.

Redford is low-key and stoic, but he hits just the right note for the character. Everybody else, especially Robert Duvall and Wilford Brimley, are fantastic.

A touching story, without being hokey. You get the feeling you are watching something mystical and magical along with all the characters in the movie, and it is played with just the right note.

Thrilling and inspiring. A well-made, well-acted film.
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A 20th Century Fairy Tale
Loren-319 December 1998
That's how I personally summed up this movie when I first saw it. And what better place to couch a fairy tale than in a milieu with real legends like Ruth and DiMaggio and Mantle ... or fabulous ones like "The Whammer" and Roy Hobbs. The story of a man playing the game they way it SHOULD be played, wishing while injured that his father could have seen him, and coming through in the clutch for his father, his lady, and his son. Beautifully shot by Caleb Deschanel, this isn't just a movie, this is ARTWORK.

And who could forget the soundtrack written by Randy Newman, which has found its way into virtually every sports show on the tube at one time or another. Without a doubt, his best handiwork.
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A Film for the Ages
soapfish22 May 2003
I can't ever forget the first time(s) I saw The Natural. I was a member of the Directors Guild of America and there was a screening at the DGA. I love screenings of films about which I know nothing! And at the time I hadn't read the novel, really didn't know anything about it. I knew Barry Levinson and liked his work, and Randy Newman was, of course, a god. I just wasn't ready for it! Tears were streaming down my face from the beginning. The music would play and the waterworks would commence! It felt organic, not intellectual. It just "was". The only other film where I had that experience was, you guessed it, "Field of Dreams", another screening. When he asked his Dad if they could play a little catch, I lost it. The people I was with got up and slowly moved to other seats. But back to the Natch. I love it when a film subsumes reality, and every time I hear the theme at a "real" ball game, I smile. From time to time I'll put on the DVD to watch a scene, and I invariably end up watching the whole thing! If you haven't seen this film, you simply must!
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Pick me out a winner Bobby
sol8 April 2006
****SPOILERS**** Wanting to be a professional baseball player since he first picked up a baseball as a little boy Roy Hobbs, Robert Redford, was on his way to becoming one when he was shot and almost killed by a unstable young woman fan whom he met the day before on a train traveling to Chicago where he was to be signed to play for a major league team.

With all of his hopes of becoming a major leaguer dashed and a faded memory at 19 Hobbs, 16 years later, now at the age of 35 is back from playing a year of semi-pro ball to play in the big leagues and see if he still has it as a middle-age rookie and if he can make the team. Playing anywhere he's needed, on the bottom-dwelling New York Knights, and hoping against hope that the manager Pop Fisher, William Brimley,will put him in the lineup. Pop does reluctantly only to find out that Roy was heaven sent to not only win the pennant for the Knights but to save him from being brought out by a bunch unscrupulous shysters and gangsters from his share of stock he has in the team.

At times corny but still very moving story that despite its unbelievable plot is based on a true story that's almost as incredible as the movie itself. On the evening of June 14, 1949 Phillie first baseman Eddie Waitkus was gunned down in his hotel room by a crazed female fan and admirer. Waitkus with a bullet in his gut was left almost bleeding to death with his future as a professional baseball player non-existent. In only a year Waitkus came back, literary from the dead, to guide the Phillie "Whiz Kids" to the 1950 National League pennant! The "Whiz Kids" Won it on the last day of the season, like Roy Hobbs' Knights did in the movie, against the heavily favored Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field.

A real crowd pleaser with Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs out to prove to himself, as well as the sports world, that he still has what it takes to be a professional baseball player and comes across his old girlfriend Iris, Glenn Close. Iris unknown to Roy had and is raising his 15 year-old son Ted, Robert Rich III.

The movie "The Natural" has Roy torn between sweet and caring Iris and party girl and gold-digger Memo Paris, Kim Basinger,who together with the sleazy owner of the Knights Judge Prosky and big time bookie and gangster Gus Sands, Darren McGavin, wants Roy to throw the final game with the Pittsburg Pirates. This in order to put out Pop and make a killing betting against the heavily favored Knights.

Playing his heart and guts out Roy's past injury comes back to not only haunt but possibly kill him as his stomach wound opens up causing him to miss three games that the Pirates won. With the pennant on the line Roy, despite orders from his doctor not to, returns for the final do or die game at Knights Stadium and ends it, and his career, with a hot and sizzling Forth of July explosion on a cool windy and lighting struck October evening.

Predictable but still heart-lifting and exciting movie "The Natural" ranks right up there with the best baseball, as well as sports, films ever made. "The Natural" both beautifully and touchingly shows how the human spirit can overcome every obstacle that's thrown in front of it, natural or man made, when it frees itself from all the fears and negativity that's around it.
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Allegory about life, a good "8" of 10 film on a baseball theme.
TxMike31 December 2001
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS - One of the more puzzling aspects of "The Natural" is the absence of Darren McGavin from the credits, since his character is the second most important in the whole story. Right before it came on AMC last night, the introduction said that it is an allegory, so I suppose my review would not be complete without my interpretation of that.

We first see that Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) is a "natural" in baseball, grows up at age 20 to be a pitching phenom, and on a train stop as he was going forward with his dream of "I want to walk down the street and have people say 'he was the best ever'", in a dare and a bet he strikes out the "Whammer" (Babe Ruth?) in 3 pitches. A lady (Barbara Hershey) seems attracted to him, but when he restates that he only wants to "be recognized as the best ever", she shoots him, in the side, and we learn later that she threw herself off a high place onto the street below, dead. We find out much later that McGavin's character had lost $100,000 on that wager, "and I took care of him." Meaning, he was the one who hired the Hershey character to shoot Hobbs. Hobbs only realizes that at the finale, when he has to choose whether to try and win the game, or give in to McGavin's attempt to fix the game.

Meanwhile, back at the beginning, Hobbs was out of baseball 16 years, recovering from his gunshot, and dealing with his infatuation with the temptress known as "fame." He is recruited as a 35-yr-old rookie, almost never gets into a game, and finally using his bat carved from the old lightning-struck tree, becomes a batting phenom, the best hitter they ever saw. When he starts fooling around with temptress Kim Basinger, he suddenly cannot hit anymore. When he sees Glen Close again, he suddenly becomes a hitting machine again. He ultimately wins the big playoff game, sending the bad guys reeling.

At one point, Close's character tells Hobbs, "I believe we have two lives, the one we learn with, and the one we live with." Hobbs was a victim of the want of "fame", so much so it de-railed his career. Only after he learned to play baseball for the sheer enjoyment of it did he achieve the success he wanted, but "fame" was no longer a need. It is almost the same theme in "Big", where Hanks' character is a success because he remains a kid, enjoying what he is doing, while all the others just want to run a business and make a buck.

Good movie, Redford is always good. The baseball sequences are fairly well done, and the moral is positive. I think many who enjoyed Costner's "For Love of the Game" would also enjoy "The Natural."
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Sentimental schmaltz
hall8959 April 2011
The Natural is not a baseball movie. It's a fable, a fairy tale, a fantasy which just happens to be centered around a baseball player. It probably would have been better as a baseball movie. The movie drowns in sentimentality, few movies have ever laid it on as thick as this one does with its portrayal of the godlike Roy Hobbs. Roy's a mythical superhero. At least that's the effect the movie's going for. Unfortunately this superhero is a complete idiot. All he cares about is baseball and his vain quest to be the best there ever was. Unfortunately his quest is derailed before it ever gets a chance to properly begin. But when years later he somehow gets a second chance he screws it up all over again by making the same exact mistakes he made the first time. Here's a helpful hint for the audience in case you can't figure it out, because Roy sure can't. Woman dressed in black...bad. Woman dressed in white...good. Yes, this is one simplistic fairy tale all right.

Aside from all the sentimental overload the movie's other big problem is Robert Redford. Not because Redford gives a bad performance as Roy Hobbs, because he doesn't, but for the simple fact that he is much, much, much too old to believably play the part. Yes the story is about an old man, at least in baseball terms. But not that old. Redford was pushing fifty when he made this movie. He just doesn't look the part as the 35-year old Hobbs we see for most of the movie. And at the start of the movie, when Redford plays Hobbs at the age of nineteen? All the favorable lighting and makeup in the world wasn't going to prevent that from looking truly absurd. It's hard to buy into the movie when the great baseball star looks like your grandpa. For comparison's sake a key role, that of old, cantankerous manager Pop, is played by Wilford Brimley. Brimley is a mere two years older than Redford.

So Redford's casting is a problem. The fact that this supposed baseball movie features some truly ridiculous baseball action doesn't help either. Roy Hobbs joins a terrible team. To show you just how terrible the team is the filmmakers resort to comic baseball, players getting hit in the groin and such. Not funny, not at all. If you want to take this seriously as a baseball movie you're in trouble. There's really nothing believable about the baseball sequences. But if it doesn't work as a baseball movie maybe it at least works as a fable? Not really. The movie beats you over the head with the Roy Hobbs as god stuff but it never really rings true. The fact he's such a dunce surely doesn't help. When a woman from Roy's past shows up she has a secret for him. But she doesn't come right out and say it, she only hints at it. But anybody could figure it out. Anybody except dear old Roy. He doesn't get it. He never seems to get it, no matter what "it" is, unless it's hitting a baseball. That he can do and with remarkable precision, able to hit faraway objects and make them explode whenever the mood strikes him. The character of Roy Hobbs never really works and thus the movie never really works. Redford's acting is fine even if he never looks the part. Many other performers, most notably Robert Duvall and Glenn Close are really wasted, not given enough to do in this totally Roy Hobbs-centered movie. Kim Basinger has a bit more substantial part to play but doesn't really do all that well with it. The film has a great look and sound to it, with beautiful cinematography and a wonderful Randy Newman score. But the story lets the movie down. It's a fable which falls flat, not particularly believable and often, as the movie drags along, not particularly interesting or entertaining. This baseball movie leaves you longing for a real baseball movie.
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Interesting as Fable
drthorsen5 May 2003
An excellent example of the "Hollywood-ization" of a work taken from another medium. As mentioned in other comments, the cinematography and historical realism are both top-notch. The storyline takes on mythic proportions though choosing a one-dimensional good v evil, corruption v purity theme rather than exploring the multi-dimensional and in my opinion, more realistic and human themes prevalent in Malamud's novel. Hobbs here is the straight-up American Golden Boy, played to the hilt by Redford, and ably supported by Duvall, Basinger, Close, Brimley, et al in archetypal characters (atavistic sportswriter, temptress, pure old-fashioned girl, crusty manager). Enjoyable to watch, if only for the nod to the "good old days" of baseball when players were larger than life yet also more accessible to the common fan.
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Enthusiastic endorsement
AusJedi4 July 2002
This is one of my favourite movies of all time. An excellent story, great music and emotive cinematography. The shot of Wilfred Brimley sitting in the shadows, illuminated by nothing but sparks, finally realising his dream is simply wonderful and moving. Robert Redford is characteristically brilliant as is the cast supporting him.
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A travesty (also, it's pretty silly)
paul.proteus1 November 2000
Not only is this film schmaltzy, with one-dimensional characters, it perverts a classic American novel. Malamud's book is dark, intelligent, and enthralling. This movie takes the essential plot of the book and strips away any meaning from the story and any depth from the characters.

While in theory there isn't anything wrong is changing aspects of a novel in adaptation, in this case the changes show how they bastardized what was once a work of art and made instead a mediocre movie. In the film, Hobbs is seen making his "magical" bat with his father in a loving, touching father-son moment. In the book, Hobbs' father was an abusive drunk. The character of The Judge is more than just a Snidely Wiplash villain in the book, we actually understand why he's doing what he's doing. And most important of all, Hobbs relationships with the two women (in the film played by Kim Basinger and Glenn Close) is far more complex. The film leaves nothing to the audience's credit, making it clear at the end which woman Hobbs should go for. In Redford and Levinson's watered-down world the heroes are perfect, the villains and completely evil and the outcome is pre-ordained. This is not a thinking man's movie.

They should have at least had the common decency and respect to give this movie a different title so someone could later make a true adaptation of Malamud's brilliant novel.
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Good Movie
angry1279 December 2010
I'm not a real baseball or sports fan. I did like this movie though. I think just about any movie starring Robert Redford will at least be OK. This movie is no exception.

The film is kind of melodramatic though. It seems like every scene there is a woman dressed in black poisoning Redford. Or there is a woman in white inspiring him to hit the ball out of the park. And speaking of which, there are probably half a dozen scenes where Redford is down two balls and he hits it out of the park.

Putting that aside, the movie still has a lot to offer. The acting (besides Bassinger) is very well done. We also have Duvall, Brimley, Prosky, and Farnesworth giving stellar performances. This is probably the best part of the film, with a close second being the cinematography. All the shots are great eye candy. The glare of the sun, the farmland, the fields (with great color composition). This is really something to see.
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Baseball Evokes A Bittersweet Recollection Of Our Accomplishments, Everybody Knows That!!
edwinalarren30 March 2008
The challenges we face with our lives are so often times metaphorically relegated to the game of baseball... Baseball has always been a somber analogy of the ups and downs in our precarious existence.. This nineteenth century pastime, which evolved as a criteria for success and failure, has cultivated itself as an American ideology that reflects our fortitude as United States citizens!! This embodiment of winning and losing is the key element that made the movie "The Natural" so painstakingly identifiable!! Barry Levensen directs this film, for me, that is enough to categorize "The Natural" as one of the best movies anyone will ever see!! "Diner", which was directed by Barry Levensen, is one of my favorite movies of all time... Of course, "Rain Man" is his prize piece, "Rain Man" won the academy award for best picture in 1988!! "The Natural" is a film which garners a heartfelt empathy from the movie audience to understand Robert Redford's character's desire to prove his ability ,and reaffirm his coveted achievements to himself and to everyone around him!! Robert Redford stars in this movie, and like so many of Redford's films, the fervor to take his emotions seriously is always a critical component to justifying his comprehensive endeavors!! Robert Redford is very believable in this film, and his interpretation of peculiar occurrences, and flagrant human shortcomings, manifest themselves in a way which leaves an indelible impact on the movie audience!! I have embraced baseball as a kindred spirit, and not just a recreational hobby, that is why I love this movie!! Kim Bassinger is so incredibly beautiful in this film, and it stands to reason that Robert Redford perceives her beauty to be almost hypnotic!! Glen Close plays a succor of spiritual enlightenment for Redford, as the two of them commiserate, and engage in the intellectual luxury of delving into an onslaught of perplexing questions which require definitive answers!! For his own edification, Redford must resolve every issue in this film through the personally mandatory guise of going in accordance with his urges!! These instincts necessitate his utterly human responses!! Baseball just emerged as a cutthroat business back in the 1920's, and, suffice it to say, that subsequently, it has snowballed into a corporate nightmare of today!! Baseball has now been reduced to the clinical and callous translation of television revenue, multi million dollar salaries, and mega facilitated stadia which require subsidy by the taxpayers!! The single most poignant concept to emanate from this film "The Natural" is that an individual's accomplishments must be approved by that individual in order for them to be truly rewarding!! I found the movie "The Natural" to be a remarkable film, the acting was sensational!! Robert Duvall's role was seedy and intriguing as well!! This movie also possessed very well thought out acting performances by John Finnegan, Darrin McGavin and Jon Van Ness!! In general, Baseball parallels our national guidelines, everybody interprets so many life situations by the rule of thumb pertaining to three strikes and you're out!! The national association with baseball in this country is pandemic!! In 1984, when "The Natural" came out, people took to it, in this case, the movie audience and I were in sync!! I thought "The Natural" was a fantastic film!! I recommend to everyone that they see it!!
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Soaring Classic, But What's With the Women?
Dan1863Sickles10 April 2004
Granted, this is a family film -- the kind of thing dads take their six year old sons to. The baseball scenes are stunning, the music soars, Redford looks golden. But you know, a closer look shows a number of weird mixed messages in the sexual subtext of the film.

Roy Hobbs is in love with innocent farm girl Iris. Okay. But on the train to the Big City, Hobbs meets a BAD GIRL. Oh, she's bad all right. You can tell because she's poised, intelligent, book-smart, and interested in sex. That spells evil, right? Women should be at home making apple pie, not riding in trains and reading books and talking to strange men, right? Who wrote this stuff, Osama Bin Laden?

So Roy goes to lovely Harriet Bird's hotel room, and she SHOOTS HIM WITH A GUN! See what happens when women have too much power? Bet you can't guess where the bullet hits, can you? Symbolic castration time!

Okay. Fifteen years later. Hobbs is back from the dead, (think Bela Lugosi meets Horatio Alger) and wins a second chance with the last place New York Knights. The moment he signs with the team, he meets a BAD GIRL! Kim Basinger is bad girl #2. You can tell "Memo" is bad, bad, bad because she's "not waiting for true love to come along." In other words, she expects to have the same adult freedoms Roy Hobbs has always enjoyed -- like walking into strange people's hotel rooms for sex.

So one night Memo comes into Hobb's hotel room unannounced, drops her mink coat, and gives him plenty to look at. Now stop and think. Hobbs is the golden boy, the hero, right? If he's morally superior to the loose woman, this is the time to say, "young lady, get out of my room! And put some clothes on this instant!" Does he do that? NO!!! He simply stares at her with dead, zombied out eyes, and then they do the deed. Well, if they both do it together, how come SHE is the evil temptress and HE is the helpless victim? Who wrote this stuff, St. Augustine?

Okay, so the moment Hobbs starts having sex with Memo, his bat starts to droop. I mean his batting average declines. What, she's draining his vital bodily fluids? Hobbs starts coming on like General Jack D. Ripper in DR STRANGELOVE: "I don't avoid women, Mandrake. But I do deny them my essence. I don't allow them to sap my pure bodily fluids."

Fortunately, at this point Iris, the GOOD GIRL reappears. Apparently she has lived a chaste, sexless life for fifteen years, while Hobbs was having sex with a long, long string of "bad girls." Now she's ready to take care of him and make apple pies back on the farm? Who wrote this stuff? I mean, like WHO?
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phasetrek5 June 2017
This movie reminded me a lot about the movie "Cujo" in one way. I'd read the book ("Cujo") before seeing the film. And the film's upbeat ending was a far cry better than the dreary end of the book. Likewise with this film ("The Natural") - except that I saw the movie first.

A few minutes ago (and for the first time), I just finished reading the novel by Bernard Malamud. The novel, for the most part, was a pretty good read. But I absolutely hated the ending - totally different than the way the movie ended. In fact, I hated its ending so much that, tomorrow, I'm going to donate the book to my library (fighting my first urge to burn it or toss it out with my weekly trash pickup). I will *never* want to read it again.

But the movie? I've watched it several times. And I will no doubt watch it time and time again ... especially now, to take the bad taste out of my mouth left by the novel. Screenplay writers Roger Towne & Phil Dusenberry did a splendid job of transforming Malamud's novel into a hopeful saga of courage & honor with an exceptionally satisfying climax. And Robert Redford, et al, made the Oscar-nominated saga believable and palatable at the same time.

So, watch the movie ... but avoid the novel like the plague.
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Might just be the best-looking "baseball" movie out there
Mr-Fusion21 April 2017
I've been on kind of a baseball kick lately, and obviously, "The Natural" is going to come up. And it's a good movie, boasting some veteran talent both behind and in front of the camera. The funny thing is that it's not really about baseball, same as boxing is just a storytelling vehicle for "Raging Bull" and "Million Dollar Baby". This is really an allegory of good and evil, of honorable men and the forces that would smother them; the symbolism's painted all over the walls in this place.

When I read Malamud's book a few years ago, I was blown away by the ending, one that really underlines the novel's bitterness; and that finish has no place in this film. Even still, while you know who to root for and who to despise, there are still aspects that really need to be fleshed out; Robert Duvall's character, in particular.

But I'm not out to poke holes. This movie is memorable not just for the acting or Randy Newman's main theme, but for its fondness for the period. You watch this for the sun-kissed cinematography and those crucial moments when fate (t last) steps in to level the playing field.

Pacing issues aside, it's a movie everyone needs to see at least once.

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Score One for Robert Redford
wes-connors30 July 2013
Incredibly natural baseball player Robert Redford (as Roy Hobbs) grows up to be a 1920s teenager on the verge of playing in the big leagues. Then, he is derailed… Sixteen years later, Mr. Redford attempts to re-enter his field of dreams. As a middle-aged rookie, Redford is immediately benched - but, you should never write Redford off… "The Natural" is an excellent fantasy - one you can believe within the confines of its running time. As both a baseball player and a movie star, Redford rises to the occasion. For the film, he gets extraordinary production values - skillfully led by director Barry Levinson and cinematographer Caleb Deschanel. For the character, Redford gets magical powers from a lightning strike - courtesy of writer Bernard Malamud and mythology.

******* The Natural (5/11/84) Barry Levinson ~ Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Glenn Close, Kim Basinger
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"I know better."
movibuf196229 August 2006
This is another one that I recently re-watched on cable. I must upgrade my collection to include the DVD. Of course, there are reviews which will attack its sentimentality; get over it!! It amazes me that so many film goers can't view a movie with a positive and sophisticated charm without rolling their eyes or sticking their finger down their throat. (As if we don't have enough coarse, angry, 'edgy' films in release already.) I don't mind Redford's Joe Hardy-like ability one bit, because success- for all of his skill and talent- still doesn't come to him easily. He must suffer a physical tragedy, be elusive with his greedy contemporaries, and finally deal with the past, which he spends the entire movie trying to hide. The one nitpick I have with the whole film was the painfully obvious soft-focus photography used to disguise Redford's age. It isn't so bad in the first reel when he's supposed to be a teenager (and the camera shoots him in silhouette and at length), but later, when he's supposed to be between 36 and, say 40, he just *isn't*. Glenn Close is radiant as his love from childhood, and shines in a memorable scene when they are first reunited at one of his games. After he goes into a foreshadowed slump, it is the arrival of Close (angelically back lit, and whose presence he senses even before seeing her) that brings him back to winning. Singularly gorgeous.
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I don't get it
richard-178716 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This movie did nothing for me.

Yes, I grant that it has a fine cast, and they all give fine performances.

But the off-the-field story did nothing for me. I never understood Hobbs' attraction to Bassinger's character. I saw no chemistry there at all.

It was the on-the-field story that bothered me. If you take something like "The Stratton Story," where you see Monty Stratton work hard to become a great ball player, you become involved in his efforts, and really root for him.

But Hobbs' success is the result of magic, not any effort on his part. He says that he went 16 years without playing baseball. Yes, he "thought about it" for those 16 years, but thinking about baseball is not working to get good at it.

He hits well, sometimes, because he has a magic bat. But the bat doesn't explain how he can succeed as an outfielder, which he evidently does. We just have to believe that he suddenly can play major-league outfield. Must be niece.

Sure, you feel sorry for him when he gets sick, and appreciate that he must have been in pain during that last game. But other than that, you never see him work to become a successful player. So, when it is taken away from him, it's hard to feel sorry for him.

This just didn't get me involved, at all.
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The mythos of American baseball
f_alcon6 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This sums up the film for me...: "People tend to live 2 lives: Those they do and those they wish they did. The best that can happen marrying and managing the 2 according to one's ability."

Not having read the book, the film is one that I can watch again and again.

It has an excellent score and direction.

The acting is also first rate. Everyone puts in a good performance, but the performances by Redford, Duvall, Close, Hershey, McGavin, Prosky - and even Michael Madsen in a very believable but tiny performance - are excellent. Even if Close did not have a demanding role, her performance adds to the film's "heart".

In some ways, this almost perfectly captures the "magic" of baseball. A definite for fans of the historical (as opposed to the modern) game.
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