Today at THT

Things to read while getting your mind around the fact that “The Natural” — a pretty yet deeply flawed movie — somehow got four Oscar nominations. Man, 1984 has a lot to answer for:

  • Chris Jaffe looks at the unique career of Rick Sutcliffe. He stops short of the broadcasting portion of that career, because THT has a strict policy against the dissemination of obscene material.
  • Evan Brunell runs down last week’s transactions. All of the Neal Musser and Jailen Peguero news you can handle.
  • Finally, over at Fantasy Focus, Derek Carty takes a Context Adjusted Pitching Statistics (CAPS)-fueled look at Gil Meche. He’s the kind of guy I usually end up with five of in my fantasy rotations. Which is why I always finish around .500.
  • Anyway, about “The Natural.” Know what I think? I think a far, far better movie could be made about the woman in black played by Barbara Hershey. She is apparently a nut case, and was probably going to shoot The Whammer before old Roy Hobbs came along. I know she was based on the woman who shot Eddie Waitkus, but within the context of this move, what’s her deal? Why is she fixated on killing the best ballplayer around? That, my friends is a movie. Certainly better than a bunch of sentimental pap capped off with a nighttime playoff game 32 years too early that should have been called on account of lightning and a faulty electrical system which allowed exploding lights to imperil the lives of everyone at the ballpark that night.

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    1. Chris J. said...


      You forgot the best part: his ulcer was so bad that he bled through his shirt (!) – now that’s a nasty ulcer.

    2. Chipmaker said...

      Tsk. You have no baseball romance in your soul.

      Without The Natural, we wouldn’t have Randy Newman’s brilliant musical score to enjoy. You don’t get aural treats of that class in a horror film or psycho-killer drama.

    3. Craig Calcaterra said...

      I’ll give you the score. It’s very good, and was one of the Oscar nominated parts of that movie.

      The Natural is not without its merits.  Like I said, it is a pretty movie, and I have always been a sucker for the inter-war period in particular.  Bump Bailey dying was actually kind of fun (there’s a dark humor to that bit that I wish the rest of the movie shared).

      And I won’t sit here and rail at the Natural simply because it veers off from the book.  That is a valid point of criticism, but I usually tend to let books and movies stand on their own, for better or for worse.

      I guess my biggest problem is one of tone.  There is So. Much. Weight. on Redford’s character, but the movie doesn’t earn that weight.  We’re supposed to take Hobbs’ secretiveness and laconic nature as evidence of some great mystery, but there just isn’t any there there.  What was with his past with the Glenn Close character? We need more details in order to assess the drama between those two.  And what of the woman in black?  Did Hobbs really do anything to deserve that gut shot as cosmic justice?  If not, the whole “some mistakes you never stop paying for” business is senseless.  If so, we should get to see it so that we can view Hobbs as something other than some Superman/Jesus figure.

      OK, I gotta stop now.  That movie just grinds my gears.

    4. Andy L said...

      Gonna have to agree with you on The Natural, Craig.  I saw it for the first time a couple years ago, and it just seems like a kind of simple-minded, children’s movie.  Like The Rocketeer.  And I like the Rocketeer, and The Natural is fine too, but people talk about it in hushed tones as if it isn’t cliched and melodramatic.

    5. Chris said...

      Rather than finish the “Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion for Trial Continuance” that’s been moldering on my desktop, I took it upon myself to see why “The Natural” garnered four Oscar nods in 1984, and the answer is: Who knows?  1984 was actually a kind of awesome year for movies:

      I mean, you’ve got outstanding “prestige” flicks (Amadeus, The Killing Fields), brilliant indie movies (Repo Man, Stranger Than Paradise, Paris, Texas), and some of the great popcorn movies of all time (Beverly Hills Cop, The Terminator, Ghostbusters, etc.).  Not to mention Molly Ringwald’s finest screen moment (Sixteen Candles) and one of the best concert movies ever (Stop Making Sense).  And, of course, “CHUD.”

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