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The Natural starring Robert Redford: Based on the Book by Bernard Malamud

Bernard Malamud was among the writers covered in the American Literature: Post World War II Novels class I took back in college. So why didn't I retain the fact that Malamud authored The Natural, the book behind the baseball movie starring my all-time favorite crush, Robert Redford? 

Baseball season kicked off earlier this month so I watched the movie as part of my unofficial celebration. I'm a fan when the Dodgers make it to the world series, otherwise, I'm fairly oblivious. I do sometimes love a good baseball movie though. Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, Money Ball, Damn Yankees, A League of Their Own. And The Natural.

“We have two lives; the life we learn with and the life we live after that.”

We didn't read The Natural in class. It was Malamud's first book and noting the baseball bat was a phallic symbol, not considered his best work. I haven't picked it up in the many years after that class. But I knew when I heard Redford's character Roy Hobbs say his greatest ambition was to walk down the street and have people say There goes Roy Hobbs, the greatest baseball player ever—or words to that effect—something was amiss. That can't be a worthy life goal celebrated with Roy's final success on the mound, hitting that light-shattering home run.

Hobbs was a flawed hero but director Barry Levinson changed the ending, making Redford into the handsome hero, sacrificing his health to win the game for the coach.

Anyway, it's a great baseball movie. Redford at the top of his game and Glenn Close earned an Oscar Best Supporting Actress nom for her role as Iris Gaines, the girl Roy Hobbs left behind. 

Bernard Malamud was born on April 26, 1914, and died in 1986 earning himself a spot on the list of greatest writers of the Twentieth Century, winning the Pulitzer Prize for The Fixer and the National Book Award for The Fixer and The Magic Barrel. He wrote eight novels and four collections of short stories.  The Natural, The Fixer, The Angel Levine, The Tenants, The Assistant, & The Model have all been made into films.

You can watch The Natural in all the usual places: Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, GooglePlay, and Vudu. And possibly Netflix, as always you have to check their ever-rotating list.

THE NATURAL - official film trailer - 1984. from California Film Institute on Vimeo.