First on this tape, Moving Pictures presented by Howard Schuman. It starts with a look at the work of Barry Levinson, director of Diner and Tin Men, and coincides with the release of Toys. I like the fact that that Schuman isn’t afraid to criticise the work of the people being profiled.
There’s a report on the new wave of ‘no-budget’ movies being made in New York. Examples here include Nick Gomez who made Laws of Gravity.
Leslie Harris, who made Just Another Girl on the IRT.
Christine Vachon, low budget producer of films by, among others, Todd Haynes.
Tom Kalin, director of Swoon.
Michael Almereyda made a film on a Fisher Price Pixelvision camera
After this, there’s a trailer for Mr Wroe’s Virgins.
Then, a Barry Levinson movie, The Natural. I hope I like it more than I’ve liked Tin Men and Diner.
It opens with Robert Redford’s origin story, as his father, a farmer, teaches him to throw a baseball, tells him his gift is important and he must develop it, then drops dead of a heart attack.
This scene plays like a carbon copy of the early scenes in Superman The Movie. Then there’s a storm, a tree is struck by lightning, and from the dead tree he carves a homemade bat.
This scene will be familiar to Simpsons viewers.
Yay! Here’s Joe Don Baker (as ‘The Whammer’).
And Robert Duvall
Redford makes an impression when he strikes out The Whammer at the local fair. He’s brought to New York for a tryout, but almost as soon as he gets there he’s shot by a woman dressed in black.
16 Years Later….
OK, was not expecting that.
Redford appears as a new player, despite being older than most of the team, at the New York Knights. He’s cagey about where he’s been. And naturally, he’s the perfect player. After some skepticism, his amazing batting wins the team over. They even start wearing lightning bolts on their shirts.
But when he falls in love with Kim Basinger, he starts playing badly. I guess that’d do it. She’s romancing him on behalf of the team’s co-owner, Robert Prosky, who wants to destroy Redford because he promised to help the team win a prize of some sort, which would mean Prosky couldn’t buy out the other owner.
He gets his mojo back when childhood sweetheart Glenn Close comes to see him play. But the devious Darren McGavin (uncredited for some reason) plots with the co-owner to hobble Redford – so he’s suddenly ill just before the last few, crucial games, after attending Basinger’s party.
He’s told that his stomach lining has been deteriorating over many years, due to a silver bullet lodged there, and if he plays baseball again, he’ll die.
He tries some batting practice, but it’s not looking good. Prosky and McGavin turn up the heat, feeding Duvall incriminating looking photographs of Redford at the scene of his shooting. But Redford perseveres to the final game. Will he survive the game? Will he win the game on the very last ball, when all seems lost?
This is a bit of a silly film. I confess I’m not a baseball fan, but I’ve enjoyed other films on the subject, and I enjoyed this one, but really, is the only dramatic story to tell about a baseball game when it’s the bottom of the ninth inning, and the bases are loaded?
BBC Genome (for Moving Pictures and The Natural): BBC Two – 20th February 1993 – 21:20
After the movie, there’s a trailer for Ralph Fiennes in The Cormorant.
Then, there’s the start of another movie, Heat and Sunlight, which looks like a pretentious indie drama. The tape ends after 15 minutes.