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|Index||171 reviews in total|
****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
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.
*** This review may contain 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."
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
To begin with, I'm not a sports fan, but with this film, that doesn't
As I watched this film, it occurred to me that among today's crop of actors, Robert Redford at this point in his career was what Brad Pitt is today, and Pitt could have played this role equally well. Second, that This is, in my view, a near-perfect film. Not in the class of spectacular films (such as "GWTW", "Dr. Zhivago", or "Ben-Hur", but probably in the class with "Casablanca". The one criticism I have of this film is that about two-thirds of the way into the film it does drag a bit for a while.
But other than that, all is perfect. Perfect lead actors -- Robert Redford and Glen Close. This was, in fact, near the peak of Redford's career. Perfect supporting actors -- among them Darren McGavin, Kim Basinger, Wilford Brimley (although they could have shaved his chest!), and Richard Farnsworth.
The script -- a masterpiece -- with a little evil, a little magic, depression, inspiration, and all the touches that put you right in the era.
This was a class act, so to speak. Perfection near everywhere in the production. Very highly recommended.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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?
*** This review may contain 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.
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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