Vintage Views – The Natural

Nell Greaney, Staff Writer


courtesy Google Images


The craze of making vintage fads popular again is no longer limited by merely a decade. This trend has hit every popular medium since at least the early 20th century. Perhaps this renewed fascination with the old is because of a frustration with the new. With that in mind, following this vintage trend is a vintage movie review. “The Natural” starring Robert Redford (“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”) Robert Duvall and Glenn Close, is a double whammy in the vintage field. “The Natural”, released in 1984, delves into the time period of the 1920’s-30’s and even makes viewers feel like they are in that time period. Many movies can’t evoke the feeling that the audience is back in time. Most films come off as a modern reproduction.
“The Natural” is about a baseball player named Roy Hobbs, played by Redford. With this saga about Roy Hobbs described as “an average baseball player [that]comes out of seemingly nowhere to become a legendary player with almost divine talent,” by IMDB, the movie plays true to form by surrounding Redford’s character with eerie circumstances and almost supernatural coincidences. A quote from Hobbs’ father, that “talent is not enough,” haunts the film with its cyclical reoccurrence and truth in the lives of the players. But the movie isn’t just about balls and bats, it has its fair share of femme fatales too.
The story begins in 1923 with the 19-year-old main character, Roy Hobbs, traveling on a train with his manager to try out for the Chicago Cubs as a pitcher. On the same train is an all-star pitcher who challenges Roy at a rest stop to strike him out. A mysterious woman on the train named Harriet, previously fawning over the all-star, turns her attention to Roy. Harriet seems to fixate on the person who will be “the best there ever was” in baseball. When Roy arrives in his hotel room in Chicago, Harriet promptly phones his room and tells him to come down to hers. He finds her standing by a window, ominously dressed head to toe in black. As she turns to face him with a smile, Harriet drops a black veil over her face and asks him, “Roy, will you be the best there ever was in the game?” “That’s right,” He states. What happens next changes his life irrevocably.
Time skips to 1939 and Roy has been signed to the New York Knights. Roy is middle aged and has never played in a professional game. His teammates and his coaches ask him where he’s been all these years and what took him so long to make it this far. Roy tells no one the truth since he’s too embarrassed and ashamed. He finds himself in the middle of a war between the head coach Pop Bailey (who once owned the team) and “the Judge” who now financially owns the team. One particular scene from this part of the movie has been the basis for many a dramatic sports spoof –Roy hitting a home run into the stadium lights. “The Simpsons” also spoofed Roy’s “wonderbat.”
This movie may take a little time to get viewers rooted, but once it happens, they will stay put until the movie is over.