The Natural Movie Poster

Trivia for The Natural

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  • While Darren McGavin had a major supporting role as the bookmaker Gus Sands, he received no credit. In the recent retrospective documentary on the Special Edition DVD of this movie, Robert Prosky (the Judge) claimed that McGavin was cast late in the picture, and would have received a lesser billing than the other stars. As a result, McGavin chose to go uncredited. Prosky noted that McGavin wound up "drawing more attention to himself" as a result.
  • One of the newspaper pictures of Memo and Roy is doctored to show the General Motors Futurerama Pavilion from the 1939 to 1940 New York World's Fair in the background.
  • The patches on the left arm of the Knights' uniforms are special patches commemorating the centennial of baseball, which was celebrated in 1939. This confirms the Knights' season to be the 1939 season.
  • The filmmakers scouted the country for a stadium to use in game scenes. They needed something nondescript with a pre-World War II feel, and found it in Buffalo's War Memorial Stadium. The stadium, built in 1937 and demolished in 1988, had a shorter distance down the right field line than is shown in the movie. The stadium had been renovated prior to filming, which could explain the extra hundred feet displayed on the right field wall.
  • Hobbs breaking the scoreboard clock with a home run was inspired by Bama Rowell of the Boston Braves doubling off the Ebbets Field scoreboard clock on May 30, 1946, showering Dixie Walker with glass. Though he'd been promised a free watch by Bulova for hitting the company's scoreboard sign, Rowell had to wait until 1987 to receive it.
  • "Shoeless" Joe Jackson was also an inspiration for the character of Roy Hobbs, particularly Jackson's connection to the Black Sox scandal. This can been seen when the Judge attempts to bribe Roy to throw the game. Also, like "Shoeless" Joe, Hobbs has a special name for his bat.
  • Loosely based on the story of Sir Percival from the Arthurian myths: The broken bat = the broken sword; Pop Fisher = The Fisher King; The pennant = the Holy Grail; The team called "The Knights".
  • A newspaper in the latter part of the movie shows the date of June 7, 1939.
  • While the story is an adaptation of the book by Bernard Malamud, the plot has been changed for movie to be more "uplifting". Several characters and symbols are heavily influenced by the writings of Homer and Greek mythology: - the line, "Have you ever read Homer?" Roy Hobbs = Odysseus. He is trying to "find his way" (home). Max Mercy = Vulcan, God of Fire and Forging. He can "make or break you", and is always seen in red or brown clothing. Pop Fisher = Zeus, King of the Gods. His uniform is #1, and both the oak tree and lightning bolt à la the Wonderboy bat, are his symbols. The Judge = Hades, God of the Underworld. He is always in the dark, a.k.a. death, and the dead are "judged" in the underworld. Memo Paris = Kalypso, a sea nymph who had an affair with Odysseus and held or distracted him from returning home. Kalypso means "I will conceal" in Greek. Gus Sands = the Cyclops. Gus has the one strange eye. Iris Gaines = Penelope, wife of Odysseus. Roy's true love, from whom he was separated for sixteen years, while she raised their son. - Hubris = when Roy states his goal is for people to say, "there goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was in this game", this is what the Greeks considered to be hubris, and for that, a person would often suffer turmoil.
  • Frank Giroux, not Buffalo Mayor Jimmy Griffin, briefly appeared as an opposing team coach in the scene where Roy knocks the cover off the ball.
  • The quote by Roy Hobbs about what it takes to be a big leaguer, "You have to have a lot of little boy in you", was actually a quote by Brooklyn Dodgers catcher Roy Campanella.
  • The bat that bat boy Bobby Savoy gives Roy is called the "Savoy Special". The Savoy Special was a brand of beer in the 1930s, and was made by the United States Brewing Company. This bat is currently in the collection at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, and is displayed along with Roy Hobb's jacket in an exhibit titled "Baseball and the Movies".
  • Boston Red Sox great Ted Williams' single goal while playing baseball was for people to say, "There goes the greatest hitter who ever lived" (a sentiment echoed by Roy Hobbs in this movie). Like Williams, Hobbs wears number 9 on his uniform, and Williams and Hobbs hit home runs in their last career at-bats. Hobbs was also an outfielder, like Williams was. According to Roger Angell of the New Yorker, Redford modeled his swing on Williams'. Angell added that Redford plays so authentically, "you want to sign him up".
  • The second film released by TriStar Pictures. It was supposed to be the first, but they felt that baseball movies don't do well. So instead, Where the Boys Are (1984) was released first, in April, and this movie followed in May. Director Barry Levinson said this during an appearance on Costas at the Movies (2013).
  • The newsreel announcer's name is Ed Krichinsky. The last name of the family in Barry Levinson's film Avalon (1990) is also Krichinsky, and Krichinsky is Levinson's mother's maiden name.
  • Among images in a montage of Roy's growing fame, we see copies of Life Magazine being printed with Roy's picture on the cover. The magazine is dated August 14, 1939. The actual issue of Life Magazine published that day had a photo of baby, child actress Sandra Lee Henville.
  • The Pirate's manager in the play-off game was played by former major league player and coach Sibby Sisty.
  • Pro wrestler Bret Hart took his catchphrase "the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be" from this movie.
  • Author Bernard Malamud based his baseball tale on the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table seeking the Holy Grail. The name "Roy" means "King", and Roy takes his bat, Wonder Boy, from the oak tree that was struck by lightning, just as Arthur pulls the sword from the stone. Pop Fischer is the wounded Fisher King, though in this story, it is Roy who has the wound that will not heal. There is the Lady Without Mercy, who gives Hobbs the wound. He rallies the "Knights" of the Round Table to be the best in the land. The original Malamud story has the tragic conclusion that better reflects La Morte d'Arthur.
  • Hobbs and the team celebrate around the piano, and while singing "Darktown Strutters' Ball", a popular song by Shelton Brooks, published in 1917, Roy falls ill.
  • This movie may also have been inspired by the story of Alex "Red" McColl, a pitcher who made his Major League debut at the end of the 1933 season with the Washington Senators at the age of thirty-nine. He'd retired eleven years earlier after a lengthy career in the minors. He started four games in 1933 and pitched the next season before retiring, with a lifetime record of 4-4.
  • Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
  • Iris' (Glenn Close's) initial appearance at the ballpark was carefully presented to give her the appearance of a guardian angel. For filming purposes, they waited until a clear day when the setting sun would be just at the right spot in the background, so that it would shine through her translucent hat and make it appear as a halo around her head.
  • The film cast includes three Oscar winners: Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, and Kim Basinger; and three Oscar nominees: Glenn Close, Barbara Hershey, and Richard Farnsworth.
  • When Roy Hobbs first joins the Knights, mid-season, the equipment manager declines to give him a uniform with number 11 on it, asserting that the number 11 is "bad luck", and Hobbs winds up with number 9. There is no specific curse or jinx baseball recognizes about the number 11, but the sixteenth century scholar, Petrus Bungus, said that the number 11 "has no connection with divine things, no ladder reaching up to things above, nor any merit." Rather, he concluded that the number 11 was stuck between the divine numbers 10 and 12, and therefore 11 was pure evil, and represented sinners.
  • Roy Hobbs was born in 1904.
  • Although big league baseball players at the turn of the twentieth century sported long hair, handlebar mustaches, and pork chop side burns, it had changed by the time of this story. The strict edict of the day from the Commissioner of Baseball required a player to possess a clean shaven countenance. This continued right up to the early 1970s and included everyone; even the Black and Latin American prospects were compelled to comply, and yet, Manager Pop Fisher (Wilford Brimley) and coach Red Blow (Richard Farnsworth) both sport thick walrus mustaches.
  • The film takes place in 1939, which was the one hundredth anniversary of baseball, and the year the Baseball Hall of Fame opened.
  • In the hospital, the Judge gives Roy $20,000 to throw the game. If adjusted for inflation, this amount would be equivalent to $352,000 in 2018.
  • In 2001, Bill Simmons from ESPN Magazine compiled Roy Hobbs 1939 rookie season stats, taking cues from the movie, and his line would've looked something like this: Games Played -115, At Bats-400, Runs-92, Hits-140, Home Runs-44, Runs Batted In-106 Batting Average-.350. Hobbs struck out eighty-five times, and walked seventy-five times. Roy was thirty-five-years-old in his rookie season.
  • During one highlight montage toward the end, Hobbs slides into home and is called "safe" when the catcher drops the ball. Photographers come onto the field to take pictures, and the next newspaper shows the Knights are one game back of first place. The article printed above shows a picture of a regatta race with the caption "Harvard winning the Grand Challenge Cup in England yesterday". Harvard did win the Grand Challenge Cup in 1939, which is further confirmation that this takes place in 1939. the other years they had won were 1914, 1950, 1959, and 1985.
  • While the movie owes a lot to Malamud's book, the film takes many liberties with it. Characters are changed, combined, and created. Most of the best lines in the movie come from the book, but are often spoken by different characters. Roy is a very different character in the novel; less virtuous, more ambiguous, and the novel is much darker and more cynical about its subject matter than the film. Although many fans prefer the film version over the novel, and consider it the rare film that improves upon its source material, others consider the movie's formulaic "Hollywood" treatment to be a betrayal of Malamud's literary intentions.
  • In the Parkside luncheonette, Roy and Iris leave with full glasses of lemonade still on the table.
  • In real life, Robert Redford was a high school classmate of L.A. Dodgers great Don Drysdale.
  • The steam locomotive used in the film is ex-Grand Trunk Western 2-8-2 Mikado No. 4070, lettered for the production as Chicago, Burlington & Quincy 4070. Built by the American Locomotive Company in Schenectady, New York, in 1918 as GTW 3734, it was renumbered 4070 in 1957 and made its final revenue run in March 1960. It has been used in excursion service periodically since.
  • The 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series against New York by Pittsburgh's #9 (Mazeroski) hitting a home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. In this movie, #9 for New York hit the home run in the bottom of the ninth to win the game against Pittsburgh. Same teams, same player per number, same winning home run bottom of the ninth, but the cities were reversed. New York's revenge by the writer.
  • Director Barry Levinson did the uncredited voice of the Knights Radio play by play. According to Levinson, he had intended to have a professional broadcaster do the role, but didn't have proper time during post-production to find someone for the part.
  • The first night game played in baseball history is recorded as May 24,1935 in Cincinnati with the first New York night game almost three years later on June 15, 1938 in Brooklyn.
  • The game when Hobbes knocked the cover off the ball, Glenn Close is reading the next day's newspaper states that the umpire in that game ruled that Hobbes hit was a ground-rule double. He presumably had to return from third base.
  • Scenes depicting the games at Wrigley Field were filmed at All High Stadium in Buffalo, a venue primarily used for High School Football. Images of the Wrigley Field stands and scoreboard were matted over during post production.
  • One of the advertisements in the Knights' stadium was for Rich's Whipped Topping. This is for Rich Products which is in Buffalo, where this was filmed. The owner of Rich Products is Robert Rich, who owned the minor league team whose stadium was used as the Knights stadium.
  • The two eras of the film show Roy Hobbs at age 19 and age 35. Robert Redford was 47 at the time of filming.

Spoilers

  • Borrows from the true story of the bizarre shooting of former Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Eddie Waitkus by Ruth Ann Steinhagen in Chicago's Edgewater Beach Hotel on the night of June 14, 1949.
  • Before Game 2 of the 1988 World Series, NBC spliced together clips from Roy's climactic home run with Kirk Gibson's dramatic come-from-behind walk-off home run the night before to win Game 1 for the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-4 against the favored Oakland Athletics. Like Hobbs, Gibson was a left-handed hitter battling injury and representing his team's winning run while down to his last strike against a star pitcher (in Gibson's case, legendary closer Dennis Eckersley) who then hit a walk-off homer to right field. Recognizing the parallels, following Gibson's home run, Dodger bullpen coach Mark Creese affixed a label over Gibson's locker reading "Roy Hobbs." The Dodgers completed the underdog story by winning in 5 games despite Gibson not batting again during the series.
  • It loosely inspired one episode of The X Files, The Unnatural.
  • If the subtitles are to be believed, Hobbs strikes out in his last at bat before he could have hit the game winner. Youngberry's first pitch to Hobbs is a strike (0-1) . His next pitch is a ball (1-1). The manager then brings in John Rhodes. Rhodes 1st pitch is fouled into the press box of Max Mercy (1-2). On the next pitch from Rhodes, Hobbs swings and misses (1-3) striking out. But not to fear, the subtitles are wrong. The umpire clearly says "ball" to both the 1st and 2nd pitches from Youngberry... and the count is 2-2 when Hobbs his his mammoth homer.
  • In the bottom of the 9th inning, Youngberry gives up a double followed by fielding error putting runners at 1st and 3rd base. While it was not uncommon back then for pitchers to pitch from the windup with a runner on 3rd or 2nd and 3rd, had they done so with runners at 1st and 3rd, the runner at 1st would easily have taken 2nd on defensive indifference. But when Hobbs hits the long foul ball that breaks Wonderboy, there is still a Knights runner on 1st.
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