The classic movie channel has been showing The Natural starring Robert Redford for a couple of weeks now. I’ve yet to see the whole thing, but the other night I caught the first third for the first time.
What the hell is up with the Barbara Hershey character? Why does she shoot him?
IIRC Bab’s character was dumped by some athlete so she became some sort of black widow and wanted to destroy a guy from each sport. (Hey a girl can dream can’t she?) So she tried to involve them in some sort of career ending scandel and/or kill them. Of course this was when that sort of thing would end and athlete’s career.
Also she wears black and later Glenn Close will wear white.
This may have been from the book (unread by me) but certainly not from the movie.
She is, in the film, primarily a plot device with the most obscure of motivations. We are led to believe that Roy is punished for bragging that he’ll be “the best that ever played.” Whether she finds some sort of victory from gutting the career of this hubris-filled youth is secondary to her main purpose: positioning Roy for his late-career redemption.
She could also serve as a fairly hoary symbol of Temptation (echoed by Basinger later, who she resembles a bit) that derails the noble and gifted, which might serve as a stretch if the film didn’t wallow in its mythmaking in every single frame.
The only thing that is “revealed” later is that she committed suicide by jumping out of the hotel window after shooting Roy, when Max Mercy (Robert Duvall) finally remembers where he saw Hobbs before. Max shows Roy a photograph of her body on the sidewalk. Of course, that’s not really a surprise, given the silent shot of the curtain covered open window after she shoots Roy. Also note that it is strongly implied that she shot a star football player, as seen in the headlines of the newspapers on the train. Her original target was the Whammer, but that changed after Roy struck him out at the county fair. That’s her “thing”.
What I’ve always wanted to know, is there anything (beyond, “You’re meat, old man”) to the knowing glare between Roy and the Pittsburgh relief pitcher in the leadup to the movie’s climax?
By the way, the book, which is an excellent read, has a very different ending than the movie.
John Sayles (the director) once remarked that he loved the movie, but that if he had made it, he would have kept the original ending and cast Nick Nolte in the main role. Very interesting: it would certainly have been much more in keeping with the book.
The book is different too since it’s tone is a lot darker than the movie. For example, the hubris-corrupted Roy Hobbs of the book is, at times, a fairly unlikeable character. Had they done a completely faithful version of the book, it would’ve been similar thematically to The Hustler instead of the relatively sunny myth of Americana it was filmed as. The movie would also be in black-and-white since it would’ve fit the tone of the story better.
I liked the movie too but they’re so different I regard them as two seperate entities. If they were going to stay true to the book, Nolte would’ve been a better choice than Redford who’s pretty much always the good guy and lacked the anti-herioc edge to play someone who’s a bit of jerk. In fact, I read the book after I saw the movie and had trouble visualizing Redford as the book-version of Roy Hobbs. He seemed more like a character that would’ve played someone like Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, or Steve McQueen (when they were all a lot younger and alive, of course).
I just saw this recently, and was underwhelmed. However, after all the talk of the judge, how he hates light, and how is office is positioned high above center field, with dark shades, I was totally completely convinced that the game-winning home run was going to break his window. It seemed like such a set-up.
Yes, a wonderful scene that is also thematically correct, IMO, as the movie is really made out ot be a Fairy Tale of sorts (as NDP has pointed out). I can almost imagine some old man tellinghis grandkids,“Let me tell ya about Roy Hobs. Would’ve been te best pitcher ever, ‘cept he got shot. Everone forgot about ol’ Roy Hobbs. But he came back, years later, and was the best hitter. Once he literally knocked the cover off the ball. Or the time a snoppy reporter was taking pictures of Hobbs taking batting practice, damned if Hobbs didn’t start hittin’ the ball right at him. Scared him to death. Yeah, Hobbs always seemed to be battlin’ the dark forces around him. But he triumphed in the end, got the game winning home run on the ast game of the season. ANd oh you should have seen it, knocked all the lights out of the staium he hit so hard and so far. Ol’ Hobbs, bullet still lodged in his stomach, barely able to make it around the bases. Darkness all around as the sparks showered down. It was enough to make you believe that good men existed. Yes son, that was Roy Hobbs. Could’ve been the best there ever was.”
I’ve interpreted it as the young pitcher (blond, left-handed pitcher from a farm, just like Roy was) is what Hobbs would’ve been if he hadn’t been “corrupted” by the woman in black. The fact that Roy seems to try to clear his head when he sees the pitcher makes me think that he recognizes that fact.
The only reason Roy hits the ball is because he’s been redeemed by Glenn Close.
www.imdb.com says there’s lots of parallels to the story of the fisher-king in the movie.
I remember a Usenet thread on “The Natural” back when if first came out. The consensus then was that The Lady In Black felt that Roy was a threat to upstage The Hammer in baseball, so she had to eliminate her idol’s competition.
So all these years later, I find out that there was a whole 'nother thing going on with her. Wow.