Roy Hobbs: I coulda been better. I coulda broke every record in the book.
Iris Gaines: And then?
Roy Hobbs: And then? And then when I walked down the street people would've looked and they would've said there goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was in this game.
Based on the novel by Bernard Malamud
, The Natural
is a 1984 film starring Robert Redford
as Roy Hobbs, a supernaturally gifted young baseball talent whose career is derailed when he is shot in the gut by a deranged fan. Years later he makes his belated big league debut, but his dark secret threatens to destroy him.
This movie contains examples of:
- Artistic License Ė Sports: The New York Knights somehow are batting in the bottom of the inning in Chicago despite being the visiting team.
- Betty and Veronica: Iris and Memo, one sweet and innocent, one a sexual temptress.
- Big Game: The National League pennant race comes down to the last day, with the Knights and their rivals facing off in the last game.
- Calling Your Shots: Subverted: The Whammer (a Babe Ruth expy) calls his shot in an impromptu showdown with young Roy Hobbs, but goes down on strikes.
- Dark Is Evil: Implied with the Judge, who refuses to light his office. Roy doesn't hold this belief so, saying that the only think he knows about the dark is "you can't see in it."
- Down to the Last Play: Roy's walkoff homer off the lighting tower to win the pennant.
- Expy: "The Whammer", played by Joe Don Baker, is obviously inspired by Babe Ruth. For that matter Hobbs is both a tremendous pitcher (he strikes out the Whammer) and a fearsome slugger, much as Ruth was in real life.
- Hobbs is much closer to Ted Williams than Ruth. Williams was also a decent pitcher who was quickly changed to a left fielder while still in the minors, wore the number 9, and hit a home run in his last at bat of his career.
- The Film of the Book: Adapted from the novel by Bernard Malamud. Malamud's novel is considerably darker in tone and has a Downer Ending in which Hobbs strikes out at the end and is disgraced, while the movie has a completely opposite ending.
- Also, in the book, Hobbs becomes an arrogant Jerkass as a result of his sudden fame.
- Gaussian Girl: A male example for the early scenes where 48-year-old Robert Redford is asked to play a teenager.
- Give Me a Sword: A baseball bat, this time. "Pick me a winner, Bobby."
- Hero of Another Story: The young pitcher who faces off against Hobbs in the final game, and who nearly strikes Hobbs out, is described by the game's radio announcer in the same terms that Hobbs is described at the beginning of the movie. This pitcher is another "Natural", and its clear that, given time, he'll end up being one of the greatest players in the game, just like Hobbs.
- I Call It "Vera": "Wonderboy".
- And later, Bobby's "Savoy Special."
- Lighter and Softer: The movie has a Happy Ending, unlike the book.
- Loony Fan: "Are you the best there ever was?"
- A Master Makes Their Own Tools: At the beginning of the movie, lightning strikes an oak tree outside the family home. Obviously, the thing to do is to turn the wood into a regulation baseball bat and use it to start a career as a professional baseball player.
- Mundane Made Awesome: The film makes games in which Hobbs plays seem like Ragnarok. Hobbs knocks the cover off of balls, wedges the ball into the net when he pitches, and at the end his homerun hit destroys the lighting fixtures, causing explosions of sparks to rain down on the field.
- Noodle Incident: Baseball players are renowned for being hilariously superstitious. For the Knights, the number 11 is unlucky for some unexplained reason, and their supply manager warns Roy off.
- Put Me In, Coach!: Knights manager Pop Fisher is initially highly reluctant to let his absurdly old rookie play in a game.
- Redemption Quest
- Shout-Out: Roy's statement he wants people on the street to say "There goes Roy Hobbs, the greatest hitter who ever lived" was something Ted Williams stated.
- Someone to Remember Him By: Iris has a secret.
- The Thirties
- Throwing the Fight: The Judge wants his own players to throw the climactic game so that he can force out Pop Fisher and take total control of the team.
- Truth in Television: Players have indeed hit home runs into scoreboard clocks, light arrays, and through the outfield fence. When Greg "The Bull" Luzinski was playing for the Phillies back in the 1970s, he hit a ball off the Jumbotron. It started smoking and they had to turn it off.
- The Vamp: Memo.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Eddie Waitkus was shot in the chest in his hotel room by a deranged fan in 1949. He recovered from his wound and played six more seasons in the big leagues, starring with the 1950 "Whiz Kids" Philadelphia team that won the National League pennant.
- Bump Bailey's fatal collision with an outfield wall was inspired by a similar (but thankfully non-fatal) accident involving talented young Brooklyn Dodgers outfielder Pete Reiser.
- Villainy-Free Villain: Max Mercy.
- Watch Out for That Tree!: How Bump Bailey meets his end, courtesy of an outfield wall.
- Whole Plot Reference: To Le Morte d'Arthur, right down to the manager's name being Fisher (Fisher King), the team being called The Knights, Roy's bat being named (as Excalibur was), broken, and "healed" (in this case, a replacement).
- Wound That Will Not Heal: The bullet in Roy's gut, which is still bleeding nearly 20 years after he got shot.