Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: Dedicated to baseball’s opening day

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “The Natural” (1984):

The post was written for another blog that no longer exists. I enjoyed writing it so much I thought I would post here for y’all to take a looksee. For “The Natural” is one mighty fine movie.

Sometimes all it takes to turn a team around is one man. Team starts the baseball season off with all kinds of potential. Mid-season and it’s down for the count. Then a scout finds this fellow in the minors and sends him up to the Bigs. Suddenly a team that was on the skids is back in the big league.

That fellow is Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) and he has come to save Pop (Wilford Brimley) and his Knights from disaster. He’s got this bat named Wonderboy for a sidekick that is going to help him knock the balls out of the park. Hobbs sits on the bench a bunch of times ’cause Pop don’t think he can play. He’s too old, you see, for ball in the big time. When he does get his chance, Hobbs does what he does. He hits a home run. One of his teammates discovers this lightning bolt, burned into the bat along with its name. The players start wearing the bolt on their sleeves. Now the team is off and winning.

But you never know. When the luck is with you, the luck is with you. For some time, it’s with Hobbs. He can do nothing wrong. Then he meets a girl. She’s with this gambler, see. Next you know Hobbs can’t hit the broad side of a barn. His luck has been sucked out and left him dry. The man who could do nothing wrong is the player who can do nothing right. He’s showing his age. For Pop and the team, that is a bad thing. Their rabbit’s foot is gone. Seems Hobbs walked under a ladder or a black cat crossed his path. Lady Luck ain’t no lady no more.

It’s a gambler that is responsible for the downfall. Remember it was a gambler that jinxed the Cubs in the way-back-when. It was gambling that cost Shoeless Joe and Pete Rose so much. So why should we expect any less from the story of Roy Hobbs? Not that Roy would have thought to gamble on the game. Nope. It would never have come into his mind. It wasn’t money Roy was after. He was after something that is just as addicting as gambling. He was after glory, the glory that had been stolen from him some sixteen years earlier.

But there is more to Roy Hobbs than glory. There is what is true and what is baseball. A love of the game that reaches down into Hobbs’ soul and takes him all the way back to those times he played with his father.

From the moment he pitches against the Whammer (Joe Don Baker) in a carnie side show, we realize this Roy Hobbs kid was meant for something special. That something special is postponed to the end of the movie. We feel cheated just as Roy Hobbs feels cheated. Then, in the final moments of “The Natural”, Director Barry Levinson delivers a home run. Roy Hobbs puts his life in jeopardy just to step up to the batter’s plate. Now that is some baseball.

 

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