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Mainstream - The Natural

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The Natural Director's Cut Blu-ray
Robert Redford, Kim Basinger, Robert Duvall
Directed by Barry Levinson
Originally released 1984
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2010
137 minutes

Everybody has seen the big scene in The Natural where Robert Redford hits the ball and the lights explode. Now available on Blu-ray as The Natural Director’s Cut which is some 10 minutes longer, this baseball movie is very good but I did not find it to be the al-time greatest baseball movie many say it is.

Redford plays Roy Hobbs. The Natural opens with Hobbs proving he is the greatest baseball player ever. There is a span of sixteen years and Hobbs is a middle aged rookie with the New York Knights major league baseball. What happened to him is one of the narrative threads of this movie. Another is that of his childhood sweetheart played by Glenn Close.

Kim Basinger plays a bookie’s moll who latches on to Roy so as to rig the odds for her boss the bookie. She is the weak point in the movie. Molls have an edge to them, hers is nothing but calculating.

A background story involves the Knights owner-manager losing his team if it does not win the pennant. His business partner is trying to see that he does.

Robert Duvall plays a newspaperman who sees Hobbs prove he is the greatest ball player and then rediscovers him when he becomes a middle aged rookie.

Near the end, something happens to make the big winner-takes-all final game that much more dramatic. I did not buy it as there was nothing before that to announce it unless you wonder why Hobbs only drinks lemonade.

Special features on The Natural Blu-ray include When Lightning Strikes: Creating The Natural; Extra Innings which explains a few things in the movie; Clubhouse Conversations which tells you why baseball is great; The Heart of The Natural; and Knights in Shining Armor: the Mythology of The Natural which is a very interesting explanation of the symbolics of the movie.

The most interesting special feature on this Blu-ray is A Natural Gunned Down, the Stalking of Eddie Waitkus, a real story that has some connection to the movie.

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