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The Natural (1984) Poster

(1984)

Trivia

One of the newspaper pictures of Memo and Roy is doctored to show the General Motors Futurerama Pavilion from the 1939-40 New York Worlds Fair in the background.
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Jump to: Director Trademark (1) | Spoilers (2)
Borrows from the true story of the bizarre shooting of former Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Eddie Waitkus by Ruth Ann Steinhagen in Chicago's Edgewater Beach Hotel on the night of June 14th, 1949.
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;


  • Hubris = when Roy states his goal is for people to say, "there goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was in this game," this is what the Greeks considered to be hubris, and for that a person would often suffer turmoil..


The patches on the left arm of the Knights' uniforms are special patches commemorating the centennial of baseball, which was celebrated in 1939. This confirms the Knights' season to be the 1939 season.
While late actor Darren McGavin had a major supporting role as the bookmaker Gus Sands respectively, McGavin received no credit for his role in the film. In the recent retrospective documentary on the Special Edition DVD of "The Natural", actor Robert Prosky, who plays the Judge, claims that McGavin was cast late in the picture and would have to receive a lesser billing than the other stars. As a result, McGavin chose to go uncredited. Prosky also noted that McGavin wound up "drawing more attention to himself" as a result.
The filmmakers scouted the country for a stadium to use in game scenes. They needed something nondescript with a pre-WWII feel and found it in Buffalo's War Memorial Stadium. The stadium, built in 1937 and demolished in 1988, had a shorter distance down the right field line than is shown in the movie. The stadium had been renovated prior to filming, which could explain the extra hundred feet displayed on the right field wall.
Boston Red Sox great Ted Williams's single goal while playing baseball was for people to say, "There goes the greatest hitter who ever lived" (a sentiment echoed by Roy Hobbs in the movie). Like Williams, Hobbs wears number 9 on his uniform, and both Williams and Hobbs hit home runs in their last career at-bats. According to Roger Angell of the New Yorker, Redford modeled his swing on Williams'. Angell adds that Redford plays so authentically "you want to sign him up".
The Bat that bat boy Bobby Savoy gives Roy is called the "Savoy Special". Savoy Special was a brand of beer in the 1930s and was made by the United States Brewing Co. This bat is currently in the collection at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY and is displayed along with Roy Hobb's jacket in an exhibit titled "Baseball and the Movies".
"Shoeless" Joe Jackson was also an inspiration for the character of Roy Hobbs, particularly Jackson's connection to the Black Sox's scandal which can been seen when the Judge attempts to bribe Roy into throwing the game. Also, like "Shoeless" Joe, Hobbs has a special name for his bat.
Hobbs breaking the scoreboard clock with a home run was inspired by Bama Rowell of the Boston Braves doubling off the Ebbets Field scoreboard clock on May 30, 1946, showering Dixie Walker with glass. Though he'd been promised a free watch by Bulova for hitting the company's scoreboard sign, Rowell had to wait until 1987 to receive it.
The quote by Roy Hobbs about what it takes to be a big leaguer; "you have to have a lot of little boy in you", was actually a quote by Brooklyn Dodgers catcher Roy Campanella.
Loosely based on the story of Sir Percival from the Arthurian myths:
  • The broken bat = the broken sword;


  • Pop Fisher = The Fisher King;


  • The pennant = the Holy Grail;


  • The team called "The Knights"


Pro wrestler Bret Hart took his catch phrase "the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be" from this movie.
The second film ever released by TriStar Pictures. It was supposed to be the first film ever released by the new TriStar Pictures, but they felt baseball movies don't do well, so instead Where the Boys Are (1984) was released first, in April 1984, with The Natural following in May 1984. This according to a recent interview of director Barry Levinson on Costas at the Movies.
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The Pirate's manager in the play-off game was played by former major league player and coach Sibby Sisty.
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Malamud was basing his baseball tale on the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table seeking the Holy Grail. The name Roy means "King," and Roy takes his bat, wonder boy, from the Lightning struck oak tree, just as Arthur pulls the sword from the stone. Pop Fischer is the wounded Fisher King, though in this story, it is Roy who has the wound that will not heal. There is the Lady Without Mercy, who gives Hobbs the wound. He rallies the "Knights" of the Round Table to be the best in the land. The original Malamud story has the tragic conclusion that better reflects La Morte d'Arthur.
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Iris' initial appearance at the ballpark was carefully presented to give her the appearance of a guardian angel. For filming purposes they waited until a clear day when the setting sun would be just at the right spot in the background so that it would shine through her translucent hat and make it appear as a halo around her head, much as angels are often depicted in various works of art.
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Newspaper copy on screen doesn't match the accompanying headlines about Roy Hobbs and The New York Knights. The text actually contains stories about bass fishing, horse racing, funeral services for White Sox owner Charles Comiskey, a fan of the New York Giants, and a sports column about General John J. Phelan, who was (actual) chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission in the late 1930s.
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The newsreel announcer's name is Ed Krichinsky. The last name of the family in Barry Levinson's film Avalon is also Krichinsky and Krichinsky is Levinson's mother's maiden name.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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Roy Hobbs was born in 1904.
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Frank Giroux, not Buffalo mayor Jimmy Griffin, briefly appears as an opposing team coach in the scene where Roy knocks the cover off the ball.
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Among images in a montage of Roy's growing fame, we see copies of Life magazine being printed with Roy's picture on the cover. The magazine is dated August 14, 1939. The actual issue of Life magazine published that day had a photo of baby/child actress Sandra Lee Henville.
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A newspaper in the latter part of the movie shows a date of 7 June 1939.
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May also have been inspired by the story of Alex "Red" McColl, a pitcher who made his Major League debut at the end of the 1933 season with the Washington Senators at the age of 39. He'd actually retired 11 years earlier after a lengthy career in the minors. He started four games in 1933 and pitched the next season before retiring with a lifetime record of 4-4.
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The film cast includes three Oscar winners: Robert Redford, Robert Duvall and Kim Basinger; and three Oscar nominees: Glenn Close, Barbara Hershey and Richard Farnsworth.
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Inasmuch as the bulk of the story takes place in 1939, the hotel technology must be questioned. Most every elevator in the United States prior to 1950 had to have an operator at all times. This is not to say that the hotel elevator, as portrayed being fully automatic, couldn't have been. Automatic elevators were in existence in the 1930s, but proliferated slowly due to objections from organized labor in the form of strikes by the elevator operators unions. Fully automatic elevator cars would be a rarity, even in New York City.
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Although Big League Baseball at the turn of the 20th Century and before frequently sported great displays of facial hair in the form of length of hair, handlebar mustaches and pork chop side burns, it obviously had been amended by the time of this story. The norm and strict edict of the day from the Commissioner of Baseball required a player to possess a clean shaven countenance. This continued right up to circa 1971 and included all; even the Black and Latin American prospects .were compelled into compliance.. Yet Manager, Pop Ficherr (Wilford BNriomley) amid Coach Red Blow (Richard Farnsworth) sport thick, walrus mustaches, i .
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When Roy Hobbs first joins the Knights, mid-season, the equipment manager declines to give him a uniform with number 11 on it, asserting that the number 11 is "bad luck," and Hobbs winds up with number 9. There is no specific curse or jinx baseball recognizes about the number 11, but the 16th century scholar, Petrus Bungus, said that the number 11 "has no connection with divine things, no ladder reaching up to things above, nor any merit." Rather, he concluded that the number 11 was stuck between the divine numbers 10 and 12, and therefore 11 was pure evil, and represented sinners.
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The film takes place in 1939, which was the 100th anniversary of professional organized baseball and the year the Baseball Hall of Fame opened.
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Hobbs and the team celebrate around the piano, and while singing "Darktown Strutters' Ball", a popular song by Shelton Brooks, published in 1917, Roy falls ill.
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Director Trademark 

Barry Levinson: [Ralph Tabakin] Ralph (Al's Customer) appeared in every Levinson picture from Diner (1982) to Liberty Heights (1999).
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

In the closing when Roy wins the game with a light shattering home run the music overlay includes a few bars of " Golden Ticket " from Willy Wonka.
In the book the movie was based on, Hobbs did indeed take the bribe money to throw the game.

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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