The Natural: The Best There Ever Was – Full Movie


– The natural was
something I wanted to do for about 10 years, but
the odds were against me because Hollywood felt that
sports films didn’t make money. – It was an
interesting challenge, and there was a
point in time when I’m constantly reading
in the newspaper, you know, baseball movies
are the kiss of death. Baseball movies are
box office poison. Everything about that as
we were moving along was, this is negative, this is
negative, baseball doesn’t work in movies, and they’re
citing all of the failures, that had taken place in the
last 10, 15 years or whatever. – Baseball movies are slow,
we were falling behind, it was getting cold,
they were in Buffalo away from their
families, and so it put a lot of pressure on all of us. – It was about 10 years before
this thing came to pass, and it really came together
with Barry Levinson and I coming together and
deciding that we were both passionate about
it, wanted to do it. Studio stepped in and said that they would do it if we would. So that’s how it happened. – And for me it
was a second film, and what makes it sort
of fascinating, cause, you know I did Diner
which was rather small, contained, sort of
realistic portrayal of guys in a certain time frame,
and then The Natural is a big, kind of, extravagant, over the top kind
of design to it. – What happened? – Hey let me see the ball. – How did you get
involved with The Natural? – It’s a convoluted
story, but the simple story is that Redford
had seen Diner, and he asked if I would
come up to Sundance. – Diner was Barry Levinson and I almost doing a home movie, and neither one of us really
knew what we were doing. We just knew what felt right, and what felt true
to his script. – Diner was kind of our first
movie together, all of us, and we were really just
starting out, so… Yeah, Redford certainly took
a bit of a risk with us. – And, so I was
invited out there. I got a chance to meet him, and then on the way
back to Los Angeles we actually went back together. He said, you know, we
should do something at some point in time,
you know, blah blah blah, and I’m thinking to myself,
this is Robert Redford. What’s the odds that we’re
gonna do something together? But he loved Diner, and he said, listen, if you have
any idea, you know, give me a call and
let’s talk about it. – I remember how excited
Barry was, it was great. He still is a huge baseball fan. – So a few months later
I had this thought, well let me just check and see. So I went to meet him,
talk about the idea. We talked about the idea. He didn’t really spark to it, and then we just kinda
hung around, talking, talking baseball, cause
he liked baseball, and I’m a baseball fanatic. – I was remembering
a funny story that Barry was in my
office and he said that his parents who were
still living at the time called him up and said,
we heard about your movie. He hadn’t even had a
chance to tell his parents. He said, how did you know? They said, ET. They had seen it on
Entertainment Tonight. – The Natural was a real movie. A real Hollywood movie
star event movie, and it taught me a lot about… I realized that
I’m not even sure I was a very good
producer on that movie. I loved doing it, and
I worked very hard, but I’m not sure
that I was prepared to do something
quite that large. So I had to learn by
the seat of my pants, and it was
all of that education━ How to make a movie that
massive and that poetic on that scale, those lessons, they’ve stayed with me forever. – I think Redford was extremely
brave in certain ways. One, to ultimately
make a movie with me, having just made this
little movie, Diner, and two, to go ahead and
make this baseball film that would be unlike
any baseball film
that had been made. At some point in time,
he mentioned The Natural. He said, did you read it? I said, yeah, a long time ago. He said, well you know
I have this script, of The Natural, let me
see if I can find it. So he went off and he
comes back with the script. – I was working as a director of
development for Robert Evans, and then working as a
reader in Paramount, and the first day
on the job with Bob, his cousin, Jimmy Siff, I walk
through the door and he says, Nice to meet you, Roger, and I have this book I think
would make a great movie. You know, literally
walking through the door. He’s a New Yorker, a lawyer, and so it was The Natural. – He said why don’t you take
a look and see what you think, and I read it and
I thought, wow, this is an interesting
interpretation of Bernard Malamud’s book, and I said, look I think
it’s got great possibilities, and went from there. – And, I just, over
the next two years, thought a lot about the book. Finally got ahold of
(mumbling) and said, I’d really like to take
a shot at a new draft. – I think Michael
Ovitz, who ran CAA, who represented Robert Redford, and they represented
Barry Levinson, and they represented me, and represented a lot of
other people in the film. I think that he
gave the script… I think Redford had been
involved in development, and he gave it to Tristar. – Bless their hearts,
they said sure, and so I left Columbia,
and wrote a first draft, which they were very lukewarm. So lukewarm they said
thanks for the effort… …but we’re gonna move on. – They were fledgling a studio and the guy who was
running it was a lawyer who had worked with
Redford and with Ovitz, and I think it was just,
what they call in Hollywood, a package, that it
all came together. But it was Tristar’s
very first movie as a production
company, making a movie. – One day I received a FedEx. Delivers a 364 page screen play. He had dictated it
to his secretary, and I wrote him back and said, gosh buddy I think there’s a
lot of work to be done here. But as fate would have it, I have another draft
you haven’t seen, and I sent it to
them, they said, hey, okay, this is something
that we can work with. Now you seem to know
someone in the business. Why don’t you have
them run with it, and I believe it was no
more than a week later, maybe two, where I get
a call, and she said, Roger, Redford’s interested. In fact, I have to say I
went back to Buddy Kahn, and I said Buddy,
Redford’s interested. He said, oh Roger,
you’re so gullible. You’ll believe anything
these guy will tell you. I said, no Buddy,
honestly, this is for real. This comes from Mike
Ovitz, who represents him, and Buddy said, well look,
if Redford’s so interested, why don’t you have him,
he has office here, have him come around our
office and tell us to our face. So Redford got in
his car, drove over, walked up the stairs,
and through the door, and there’s Bean and Kahn, and put out his hand and
said I’m Robert Redford, and I want to do The Natural. That was the story, I tell
you, I wish I’d been there. – You know, I thought
of it as sort of this, you know, kind of, this
piece in which you have all of these different
players that, you know, really
formidable actors. – Heroes and supernatural
beings that are associated with real people, all by way of trying to explain the natural world we live in — – And I thought it should
be serviced that way, because these roles are very, kind of, bigger than life roles. – You just had the creme of
the crop, you had the best. – And you really need some
actors that can really inhabit those kinds of
larger than life characters. – The cast was just
so extraordinary — – Then Barry called
me one day and said, I think we got
something going here, and he told me what it was, and it was big for all of us. – And Ellen Chenoweth
was casting director that I had on Diner,
we had talked about it, and went over some
kind of names, and said no no no and
then it started to say, well what about like Glenn
Close for this role — – We sort of sat there. It was one of those
great situations… We were Tristar’s first movie,
and they wanted to make us — – Tristar was this new
company, and The Natural is gonna be their first movie, and so that was gonna
put the signature on this new film
company, Tristar. – Well, from the start it
was clear that Robert Redford was gonna play Roy, Roy Hobbs — – Right, now Redford was on
board before any of us — – I thought, I mean, you know, I didn’t think
that much about it, but everybody around me
going Robert Redford, like Robert Redford,
like Robert Redford? I said yes. – He’s a ball
player, by the way. He was a ball player. – And by the way, just
so everybody knows it, Redford actually hit
a home run one day when we were there, so, he was actually a
pretty good hitter. – Well, he had a baseball
scholarship, Colorado. He was the real deal. – Then when Robert Redford came, it was funny, we were like… You know, and some
people might have thought he was being stand
off system man, cause he’s not the type
of guy who walks in a room and goes, hey guys, hey, let
me tell you this one, you know? – Then we had these
major character guys that we had to cast
like Robert Prosky, and Richard Farnsworth and Joe Don Baker,
Wilford Brimley — – And I thought some
of the, you know, Wilford Brimley was
such a character. So fascinating, and just to
play that manager of the team. – Oh, come on Fowler,
throw strikes. – Fowler’s killing worms, Pop. – Hey Fowler, don’t you know how I hate losing
to the Pirates? – But then there were old
salts like Richard Farnsworth, and Wilford Brimley who had
been around for a while, and so we really wanted
to get the manager and his coaches as
these veteran players. We wanted to see, really
something on their face, to see character and
age on their face. – Well I met Barry
Levinson, and uh, I was offered that role. – Wilford Brimley taught
me so much about behavior. First by just watching him
and Richard Farnsworth. Richard Farnsworth is probably
the most humble person you’ll ever meet,
and yet, so dynamic, and Wilford would tell me,
forget about the acting he did, the amazing stunt work he did. – He would tell me
some of the stories because he was a body
guard for Howard Hughes, and he would tell me
these Hughes stories, and I was just like wide
eyed, and mouth hanging open. I mean, one crazy
story after another. – I’ve gotta say, for
anybody who, you know, anybody who was kind
of knowledgeable
about show business and movies in any way,
that cast was amazing. We couldn’t believe
that extraordinary cast was all coming to town. – Once we got those
pieces in place, then it was the smaller parts. It was putting the
baseball teams together. The Knights, and then doing
all the small parts in Buffalo. – We kept hearing about, that they were going to
do the movie The Natural. – In fact, in New
York, that was part of the casting
process, we had actors and then we had like
a baseball tryouts. – But, yeah, these
guys could play ball. I mean, we could play ball… – Well that’s how I had
to try out, you didn’t. – I had to try out. – You had to try
out as a player? – Yeah. – To see how they
would do, you know, playing the outfield,
playing the infield, how did the swing the bat. – Oh I had fun doing that. I had never played
baseball as a kid. I didn’t know anything
about baseball. – I’m not a baseball
player, I’m tell you. I’m not a baseball player. – So I’m no ball player, right, and I told Barry, I
told Mark Johnson, I ain’t no ball player. – They ran it like a spring
training for two weeks, which was kind of cool. – There were people there that
were kind enough to show me. I enjoyed it very much. – What’s funny is a guy came by, my father had a jewelry store
in Grand Central Station, and I was working
there at the time besides doing commercials
and a little bit of standup comedy,
and the guy goes, hey Barry you gotta go get
in for this Natural film, because they’re trying guys
out on baseball ability first, and he goes, that’s your thing. – And I can’t
remember who it was, some baseball scout
who was with us, and he’d talk about,
well what do you think of his ability,
well I think we can get him to do this and that. But you had to be
able to act as well. – I went down there, this
is a way crazy story, but I was wearing a fez. I was wearing a red
fez before going show. I put a bunch of
(mumbling) cream on my, whatever, they still
had that stuff. Slicked my hair back, I went
down and just clowned around, and I figured, well
maybe I could throw a knuckle ball or a
spit ball or something. Maybe I’ll fake my way. – So it was from playing,
there was no audition. Your ball playing
was the audition. – Finally, Barry Levinson
walks over to me, and says, can we see you play? I’d been hiding on
the sidelines, you
know, standing around. I said, oh you want me to play? Jeez, I told him
my wife wouldn’t let me take the
shot of (mumbling). I was supposed to
take that today. I got a bad shoulder, I
don’t know, let me try. – And you had to act like you
were Major League potential in the 30’s on a
bad baseball team. So there were a bunch of
serious ball players there. You had to do fungos. You had to hit the cutoff
man if you’re an outfielder. You actually had to
come and have a game so that you look like a player. I fielded a few grounders,
and I’d just take it, and I’d just launch it and
it goes over the plate. I said well, thanks guys. Thanks for coming,
thanks for having me. – That’s what it
was like for me. It was a little unnerving,
exciting kind of fun. – It was like
making a ball club. – Yeah, that’s what it was — – If you make the team,
you’re looking at the list and who got cut that
day, who didn’t make it. You’re all, is this a movie
or is this a ball club? – So we’re just sitting
telling stories, not hoping to impress Barry
by any means, I swear, and all of a sudden,
I get this call, and they want me in
the movie, so I go… What happened, so Luke
(mumbling) says that next week in the final tryouts,
Barry said to him, who’s that big guy
that was with you? He says, Mike Star? He says, well he’s
not a baseball player. He said, I don’t care. – Mike and Barry kept
us all in stitches and kept everybody
lose, and this guy, and Mike Star, great company. – Line drives are
whizzing by my head. Barry Levinson comes
walking over and says, hey, Mike Star, Mike Star… Yeah? It was like Jerry Lewis
out there, you know? He says, get out of there,
don’t get hurt out there, get off the field. I said okay, why did
this guy want me here. He comes out, he goes, listen, he said I just want you to
fill in every now and then. We’re gonna have to
create a character, a name, a reason
for you being here. He told me, think of
things that you can say that take like 10 to 30 seconds. – And as an actor, you want
to be able to bring something, and it actually, it’s his
scene in the batting cage that gave me my, sort
of, break in the film, because I did my
homework, and said, okay, we’re shooting
the batting cage scene with his character, there’s a
little bit of razzing going on because he’s wearing
the lightning bolt, and I started kind
of teasing, whatever, that the world had
turned upside down cause he was hitting
the ball now, and that (mumbling)
kind of came through, and that kind of opened up a
little bit of a door for me, and Barry was cool with that, and Bob Redford
was cool with that because it was like… So that got me whatever
I got in that film was a result of that
batting cage scene with him. So I kinda got to do shtick,
or be a clown or whatever. That was your at bat. – In between takes,
Robert Redford said to me, Bob, as we called
him, said to me, Mike, what’s your
name in this anyway? I said, well it’s Boone
Boonski, you know, and he said Boonski? So I told him the history, and
my son at the time was two, I said, yeah, Barry asked
me to come up with a name. He goes, that’s all, you didn’t tell me he
was gonna do anything. Sure enough, if you
watch the movie, and you see me come down, I’m doing my
knucklehead ad-libbing, and there’s a close up on him. He looks up and he goes, watch your head on the
way out Boonski, and left, and I came back
and I thanked him, and he said, well, we
immortalized him now. Someday he’s gonna look at this and say is this his name
in the movie, he said, but they can’t cut
that out because what he explained to me,
the shot ended on him. You know, he wasn’t like
bragging, but that was the shot. – Boonski, look
out on the way out. Just keep your eyes
straight ahead. – The cast was great. I was surrounded by
two wonderful women. – That was one of
the first films Kim Basinger had done, right? Or it was one of the early ones. – I remember getting
a call from my agent, and they wanted to meet me
for memo, I remember that. But there was an ongoing
talk about something that I found rather,
extremely funny. There was a debate whether
the bad girl could be blonde. Isn’t that something? And I had to wear a wig
because I was coming from another movie, and
I had cut off all my hair for that movie, if
I remember that. So I wore that
blonde, adorable kind for the period, blonde wig, extremely beautiful clothes
and the extremely beautiful… – And the other thing
that’s really interesting is that there’s inclinations
of real events in real history. – Including real events, like
Johnny Waitkus being shot, in I think it was 1947. – With Barbara as the whatever
that came in and shot him… – He was a very
talented first baseman who they called the next
Dimaggio, the next natural. He was shot by a woman in black. – I had to get into, which
was fun, the frame of mind of someone who would
do something like that. – And it was, it made that
part kind of hard to cast too, because you didn’t
want to tip it off that she was this
obsessed sports groupie. – You know, the Barbara
Hershey character is always, almost in black and white,
and always had the red flower. You know, you can use
elements like that. It’s symbolic, in repeat
visual hues, you know? – I actually did this thing where words have
different meaning. Like, I’m having a
conversation with you, and we basically
agree what words mean, what we’re saying, but Harriet had a different
meaning for words. – We had to just find
the right balance between this woman who
would be very alluring and seem just like a normal gal, and then turns into a
psycho and shoots him. – For instance when she says
to Roy, are you the best? She’s asking him is he
the one for her to kill. Hello, I’m Harriet Bird. The costumer put
this hat on my head, and I relaxed, and I
knew it was Harriet Bird, and the thing about that
hat, is it felt authentic. I knew I felt like I
could play this part, and I walk on the set,
to film, in wardrobe, and talked to Barry,
tried to talk to Barry, oh I’m going to be
filming after lunch. So he sits during lunch,
basically eating his lunch, and I’m talking a mile
a minute with all this stirred up stuff, and he
says, well that’s all great, and he says, by
the way, the hat… You know, I don’t
want to cause trouble. I’m just filming my first scene. They’re already filming,
I want everyone to enjoy the experience of
working with me, but I feel very
passionately about the hat. Fortunately he listen to
me and the hat was in. But it was a very funny moment. – and Michael Madsen? – Yeah, yeah, he’s a
good actor, that kid. He’s a really good actor. – That was one of
his first roles, too. – Well, I’ll tell you
what, he’s a good actor. – They were gonna
do this TV series based on the movie Diner. – The only actors, there was
only three actors on the team. He was one of them,
and Mike Star. – But I went over to
MGM Studios, I still
remember the guys name at the gate,
his name was Gary. – Well Michael Madsen, it’s
funny, we had done, after Diner, we did a TV pilot of Diner. – I walked up and I said,
is this where Barry Levinson is casting for the Diner pilot? He said, what the hell do
you think you’re doing? – Which Barry said, you’re
never gonna run this. They said, yeah, yeah we are. He said no you’re not,
you’re gonna test it, it’s not gonna test well, and
you’re never gonna show it. Yeah, yeah we are. – I said well I’m
going to see him. He goes, no, I’m afraid not,
do you have an appointment? I said no, I don’t
have an appointment, and he looked at me
funny, and he goes, well, you know, if I was
to not see you go in, I guess you could get in. – So we did this TV
pilot, and Michael Madsen was in that playing the
part that Mickey Rourke had played in the movie. – And I walked up the
receptionist and I looked at her and I said, hi, can I
talk to Barry Levinson? – So we knew Michael from that. But that was one of
his first movies. – And she said, do you
have an appointment? I said no, and she goes,
do you have a head shot? I go no, and behind
her, the door was open. Barry was sitting in his office, and he was looking up
and he was listening to this whole conversation. – And I thought he was
really interesting, you know? In retrospect if you think
about all of a sudden he’s in scenes with
Redford and Duvall and Kim Basinger, you
know, right out of the box. – She goes, well you’re gonna
have to come back (mumbling) and he comes out of his office, and he comes over and he
goes, hey, what’s your name? I said, Michael. He goes, to the girl, he goes, that’s okay, let
me talk with him. – Michael Madsen was
a tremendous talent. When you look at a guy
like Michael Madsen, The Natural was really one
of his first major projects. – So I went in his office,
and he closed the door, I sat down, I was like yeah so, I see in the paper that
you’re doing this thing, and he goes, yeah, I’m sure. – He had to really kind of
step up in that a guy who had basically breaking
into the business is working with all these
big names right off the bat. – He goes, well, I
imagine you’re probably looking at the
movie role, right? I said yeah, that’s the one I
could get away with I suppose. So, he gave me the part. – Now, making it in
Buffalo was interesting because I had never been there, didn’t know much about it. The held opinion
was, you poor guys, you have to go to Buffalo? I mean, you know, next to
Cincinnati, that’s a killer. So the impression was
that Buffalo was really not a happy place to be. As it turned out, that
was seriously wrong, cause I loved it. – Of course this documentary
is gonna be a little closer to a lot of the Buffalo people, is there any word’s you’d
like to say to Buffalo? – So Buffalo, what do
you think about Buffalo? – (laughs) I remember
Buffalo pretty well… – What did you
like about Buffalo? – Buffalo was magical. I’d love to shoot in
Buffalo again, actually. – Definitely like to go back… – I’d come back to
Buffalo in a second. – We had a great
time in Buffalo. Buffalo embrased us like, wow. – Buffalo, I’ve always liked it. I thought it got a bad rap. – We had a great
time in Buffalo. It was… – Sounds like it. – Everybody in that
town is so nice, to me it was unbelievable
how nice everybody was to us. The restaurants, there
were a couple of Jazz clubs we would go to, and
great restaurants. – I loved what I saw. We had a great time, and it
was really really beautiful. – Here’s what we did. We did something actually,
when they came to town, that I think was
probably close to unique. I don’t know if I’ve ever
heard of it being done before. What we did is we put a
whole section together of kind of a Hello Bob section. We did a whole section
of pieces by a bunch of different people telling
our readers who these people are who were coming to town, and the film that
they were making. – You know I made movies in different places
around the country. The Buffalo experience
in terms of natural, and if you talk to
other people involved, they do remember that,
for whatever reason, there was this real, kind of,
connection to the community. – How about the people? What did you experience
about the Buffalo people? – Loved them, they were
lovely, they were lovely. – Buffalo was a great
city to have been in. The city made us feel welcome. Both on an official level
and the man on the street, same thing. – I definitely had a
nostalgic feeling for Buffalo. – I had a great time there. I loved the city and the people and just the countryside
outside of there. – We went out for
the weekend with Wilford and Richard and
Robert Duval and Glenn, and we all had cooked
and swam in the lake… – I went to Niagra Falls. I snuck off and went over to
see the falls, it was great. – I loved the houses, I loved
the neighborhoods and stuff. I do a lot of that
whenever I’m on vacation, just ride around… – You know we went
to see Bills games. Wilford Brimley would take us. – I remember swimming
and seeing Duvall and thinking, wow,
that’s Robert Duvall, and he’s with me,
it was strange. – So we went to Bison games too. – I sung the National Anthem. Much later, a few years
after the picture. But I went to that park,
and saw a volume, right? – The Bisons. – We saw the Bisons play. – You did, the Bisons? – Yeah. – What else would
you like to know? – How about, when you guys… I’m sure you remember
some of the food. – There was a great restaurant, and I can’t think of
the name of it, okay, because I love this restaurant. This guy taught me how
to make spinach wraps. Do you guys want me to tell
you how to make spinach wraps? No really, it’s a classic,
it’s so beautiful. – I remember the food. Like I said, I wish I’d have
been there a little longer, tried a few more
things, but yeah, I thought the food was great. – I had discovered
buffalo wings, and I’d become quite
the connoisseur. I become very demanding when I go anywhere
outside of Buffalo. – Well we always had
the chicken wings. We always had chicken wings
late in the evening, you know? We were working in overtime. So the chicken
wings would show up. – How about the wings? – Of course, chicken
wings and pizza. – I was the wings guy, so
I always tell the waiter, no, that’s not, those
are not buffalo wings whenever I go anywhere, sorry. How do you make that? No, no, no, sorry those
are not buffalo… You make, no no you don’t
put that with the… – So that was
always a big thing, which I had never seen before. – That first time I
ate chicken wings, you usually throw them away. But I ate those buffalo wings
and I kind of liked them. – I couldn’t imagine it. I don’t like chicken wings,
what’s the point of them? – It’s interesting cause I
don’t know if that exists throughout the country now,
cause I think we just exploit just about every kind of thing. But at that time, it’s
great to go into some town and all of a sudden,
chicken wings, I’ve never heard
of such a thing, and this was really
kind of great, and that was the only
place that I knew back then that
had chicken wings. – Personally my wife loves it. I don’t see it. – That was our big fanatic move. I mean we would eat
gourmet food on the set. But you told me that Wilford
loved the beef on weck, and that made me remember that. – I remember that
hourglass restaurant. That was a great place, and I got acquainted with my
friend Jimmy (mumbling) folks, and I used to stop by
there, and they made me, I’ll think of the name of
this thing here in a minute… Real salty bread with
roast beef on it. Beef on a weck. – Beef on weck. – Wilford said the same thing. His favorite thing in
Buffalo was the beef on weck. – Yeah. – Beef on the weck. Yeah, it was good, too. – I encounter that
a lot from people who come to Buffalo
for the first time. It isn’t the wings
that knock them out. It’s the beef on weck, yeah. – Were you a fan of
the beef on weck too? – The what? – Beef on weck. – What is that? – It’s a sandwich with
roast beef on the … – That would be no. That would be absolutely
unequivocally not. – All the other guys were
talking about that one, so… – That would be,
unequivocally not… – Spinach bread… – Spinach bread, absolutely. Get some Italian bread, get
all Italian bread, okay, and we sauteed
the spinach, okay. – I think we gotta come back just to have another
beef on weck. – You have to ask them, what’s
the weck, what’s the bread? Why is it called that? I don’t know… – Well what’s that? – It’s roast beef
on a kummelweck bun,
it’s a salted bun… – Well now you’re talking. – It’s just roast
beef on a kummel… It’s a salted roll
sitting on a kummelweck. You know what, you’re
gonna see, but… – I want to see a
beef one week… (both laughing) – They’re a sports
area, so, you know, they love beer, chicken
wings, and sports. – Our cameras turn to
the world of sports. – [Voiceover] In
response to sports writer Max Mercy’s accusation that
Wonder Boy was a loaded bat, Commissioner Gates
made this statement. – We’ve measured
and weighed the bat, and it is within
league specifications. Therefore the bat is legal and
may be used in league play. – [Voiceover] Hold up the bat. – [Voiceover] Wonderboy,
and oh what a bat it is. – [Voiceover] A picture
is worth a thousand words, and Robert Redford
chose to let us see why he’s a natural
to star as Roy Hobbs. – You turn on Irv
Weinstein from channel 7 and it would have a
story about The Natural just about every day. – I felt from the city
in general that there must’ve been something
that happened that made the people concerned
about their image because I’ve sensed that. I don’t see any reason
for that to happen. One, the city is beautiful
on a number of levels. It’s got the lake here. It’s got buildings, I
mean the reason we’re here is because it’s the only place
that has an available stadium that was built at a
time when tradition still meant a great deal. So to be able to come
to a place that still has some assemblance of
tradition means a great deal. – Oh, I think it did a lot
for the city of Buffalo, yes. – It was a great
time for Buffalo, and everybody that was
here from Hollywood, they couldn’t believe
how open, friendly, and helpful all the western
New York natives were. – Look what it’s become
now, its a classic. It’s one of the
favorite baseball movies that anyone can think of. – No, I’m perverse, I
like strange locations. Truth is, I’ll
tell you something. This is not, I’m not saying
this just because I’m here, but it’s true, I
really like Buffalo, for a number of reasons. One, the people have
been really friendly. I don’t know what you heard
about my not being accessible or anything like that, but,
from the time I got here just a few days ago, and the
experiences that I’ve had just moving around the
city, which hasn’t been that extensive because
we’ve been preoccupied with getting started
with the film. The people have been
inordinately friendly, and the restaurants
that we’ve been to, terrific service, good food. – It’s a film that
keeps coming back over and over and over again. I think the more you see it, the more you’ll realize
what a good film it is. – And here’s what’s interesting. The most fascinating thing
to me about that entire film, is it’s a film that
they show on Spike TV, for a predominantly
male audience. It’s a film that they
show on Lifetime TV for a predominantly
female audience. I think it’s shown on
some sports networks. It’s audience cuts
across everybody. – Oh, that’s my favorite movie. I watch that every night. Oh, I’m gonna have to get
that movie and look for you. – And there’s a
line in that movie, a life that we were born with and one that we learn
with, two different lives, and I remember
even at my church, the minister in a
sermon referred to that. – It changed a lot
of lives for the guys who lived in Buffalo,
who were part of it. – I mean, in other
words, it doesn’t have a specific demographic,
quote unquote, which movies are supposed
to have these days. It doesn’t have that. You know, it has this
wide, wonderfully wide, freakish almost, appeal
to all kinds of people. – It’s about a
young person’s dream and how that dream was lost, and how that person
came back as a man to reclaim that lost dream. So the characters played
out in that fashion. He disappears for 16
years and comes back. – I imagine if you put a
full page ad in the paper and you said, hey, tell
me your natural story, you would be inundated
with responses from people that were extras in the stands, or people that may
have worked catering, or people that had
built the set design, or people that really
got involved in so many different facets of the movie. When this movie came to town, it really was an opportunity
for Buffalo to shine. – There was this huge group
of four to 5,000 people that worked for a
fairly long stretch, and all through the night. So you’re kind of all in
it together, you know. – Whatever we did, we
really became a team. When we shot at night, a
few of us would go back and play racquetball
’til six in the morning. – And he took the
whole team out, in other words to start
that bonding kind of thing of we’re the two coaches,
and we’re gonna start this, and those guys
would tell stories about being extras
for a dollar a day. – We were like The
Little Rascals. Basically, we got paid
to have a great time, on and off the set. – I don’t know what it was, maybe because there was so
much time spent in the stadium. – It was really something
to be out there, you know, and filming in the
rock pile, and… – People would always
tap you on the back and say, are you a
baseball fan, and, they were really
really baseball fans, and just to know
that this was a real baseball playing bunch, it was
fun to go out there at night. – But I’ve always
made it my business to get acquainted with
the folks where I am. – Think about all of the
extras in this movie. There are so many
people out there. The people of Buffalo really
had to put up with a lot, in a sense, those that
wanted to be extras, in a sense that
some of these scenes were extremely long and
cold nights, et cetera. – And sometimes we
were shooting at night and we had trouble
holding on to our extras, because I think whatever
it was we were paying them, I think they felt that
that was not enough. – They had to really endure. They’d be there, four or
five o’clock in the morning, freezing to death,
putting their coats away, and then getting
ready to do the scene, and screaming and
carrying on, you know. – Because we did have
huge crowd scenes, and they were huge
baseball fans, but just because Redford had
been so big for so long… – And when you look at it,
I grabbed a lot of shots of the crowd through the
day and the night sequences, of those faces of those people, and they look as much
like baseball fans that I’ve ever seen,
It wasn’t just fake. There’s a lot of little,
kind of, specific kind of, personal things that go on
in the course of those faces. – Me and Bob, Mr. Redford,
we’d go on the first base line, and throw toss up baseballs
and hit them up into the people who were extras and it
made them very happy. – Because of the amount of time and maybe the kind
of good nature and the spirit of the
people in Buffalo… – There’s so many people
did so many things to really make this
movie what it is… – That had an
impact on the movie. – The people were great. The town was great,
it had history. I had just a whale of a time. – Buffalo is a
good memory for me. I’m sorry War Memorial
Stadium’s gone. It was a wonderful
iconic stadium. – Probably stands out as
one of the greatest films ever made about sports,
and certainly one of the greatest films ever
made in western New York. – I love the people there, I
love being able to hit the ball and play ball in a ballpark
that was about to be gone, and with it would be some part
of the history of baseball, in the natural sense, and
of course since that’s the name of the film,
it has a connection. – That’s summer I had chose
to work at the stadium on a construction crew was
putting together the actual sets and the scenery, we were doing
the billboards and backing. I was about a day and
a half into the job. I had my work boots on,
my feet were killing me, and I decided, I was pretty
much at the point of saying, well you know, two days
in, I think I’m done. – Well, I remember the casting
call was at Buffalo State. A couple of my buddies
come in one day. They all come in all
excited about it. “You should get involved,
you should get involved.” and I said, what’s going on? They said, they’re
shooting a movie down at the old rock pile,
The War Memorial Stadium. – I had seen an ad in the
paper to audition for extras… – My husband heard
there was a rumor that they were looking for a
(mumbling) for The Natural… – They wanted to
do some filming, get some camera angles. I had played four years
of professional baseball, so they were taking some
clips of me hitting, cause Redford was left
handed, I was left handed. – I was cast half way
through the filming in the Buffalo area, and
received a phone call from, I believe it was
Kevin and Steve. One night we were going
through their roster books of players in the area
and called me at home and asked me if I wanted
to be in the movie. – Friends asked me if
I was gonna go down and get in line because I
umpired professional baseball for nine years, told them
no, I don’t stand in lines. – So I was at lunch one day, and a gentleman named
Dave Ferno had come by. He worked at Rich
Products, and he said, hey I’m going over to take a
look over at the (mumbling) and see what’s
going on over there. You want to take a ride with me? – I showed up for
the casting call, and they decided to use
me as a dressed extra. We got talking about
it, I said, hell, I’m not doing anything tomorrow, I think I’ll go down
there and sign in. – And I had a little
bit of an interview, and they asked me
some questions, and I went home and I
didn’t hear anything for many weeks. – I went, and they took
one look at me and said, you don’t look like a mama. We want a mama
that’s got black hair with a little knob back
here, kind of roly poly, and I surely didn’t fit that
image, so they dismissed me. – They said hey, you
want to be in a movie? I said sure.
They said, can you get me
10 more guys just like it. So, that’s what happened,
I give Lester a call, he gets on the horn and things
start progressing from there. – He had come to me and
said that they’re gonna film some baseball movie
here, and he asked me if I wanted to help him get
some of the ball players. I wasn’t planning on
being in the movie. I was just planning
on helping him get the ball players
for the movie. – I met with the
production manager, and got hired to
work on the set. I was a production
assistant on the set. – About two weeks
before they were supposed to start filming,
I got a phone call from a young lady. They asked me to
come down and try out because they heard
that I umpired. – We went in, we
stood in a line, signed up for a
part as an extra. I didn’t think anything of it. I get a call for a
return for casting. I met with Uma Mclure,
who was one of the casting directors for
the extras in the movie, and she had had me
repeat the line, “He’s my favorite ball player.” – And one day I
came home from work, and my daughters said, mom
the movie people called you. – Later on, I think I came
back the following day, there was a group of about
100 people in the room, and they randomly picked
about four people, and I was one of the
persons that they picked. – We spent a couple weeks
getting some of the older ball players together,
did some filming, (mumbles) get their cameras set, and once the teams and
players were chosen, I basically thought that was it, and at that point they said, no, we want you to be on
the New York Knights. – So, a lot of times I was
directing background extras, sometimes helping
out in the office. Sometimes I was helping
out in the casting. So at the end of the day
when we signed the extras out and signed their checks,
then we would go and work in casting, and we’d do
something, making phone calls to get the people
in for the next day. – The bad news is you
didn’t get the part as the bat boy, we went
with somebody else. The good news is
that we’d like you to play the part of Robert
Redford’s son in the movie. – Here’s the number,
call them back. So I called back and they
said can you come down? We’ve picked you
for a dressed extra, and I said, alright,
I’ll be down. – So they told me to go
down to War Memorial, and I actually tried
out for the producer. He said I would do. Cut your hair,
shave your mustache, which I had since I was
14 years old at the time, and we’ll see you tomorrow. – We’d go to wardrobe and
we’d help out in wardrobe. When the uniforms came in,
the logo wasn’t dark enough. So we sat there with
a bunch of sharpies and colored in the
logo’s with sharpies. – We had a meeting with
Barry Levinson, and, one of the producers, and they
asked me about my experience and about arguments, and they
wanted me to do strike calls and out calls, and
pretty much said, yeah, you’ve been around
a baseball field, and they signed me up to
be an on field umpire. – I was very surprised
at how particular they were about the dress. – The directory, Barry
Levinson, he was a stickler for authenticity and everyone
staying in the era. – They had dresses picked
out for us and shoes. Everything had to be authentic. – The guys that wore glasses,
they brought an optometrist down to the set, and they
made period glasses for us. – It had to be exact. The hat had to be exact,
the hair had to be exact. Even to the seams
in the stockings… – They would check
the shoes we had on. Make sure they were spikes. No rippled soles,
no wrist watches. – Because the time of the
movie was like 1939… – And I had a period
vintage guitar that would have
been played in 1939. – One of the most important
things I ever learned about the nature of fandom,
I learned by watching the kids crowding
around the stadium to catch a glimpse of all
the stars on the way in. – Everybody was excited.
Robert Redford’s in town. All the ropes around the
set, no one could get in. – It was like a circus
passing through town for us. – We did our filming
at Bennett High School, and they brought the kids in from the school to
make the crowd noise. – We were doing another
shot where Robert Redford walks out of the tunnel… – He would walk out
with the sun glasses and the Knights jacket, and the whole stadium
would go crazy. – Well, Redford decided
to walk out of the tunnel and see what was going on, and at the moment he walked out, all the extras came piling over. – And every time
the poor guy moved. If he picked his nose
or got up from his seat, the girls would scream
and scream and scream. – Hearing a whole
bunch of girls, young teenage girls,
jumping up and down and squealing and carrying on… – I hear this frantic
call on the radio. Come up out of the
tunnel, come up fast. – And what they were
screaming and yelling, I remember one in particular, what she was screaming
and yelling in glee was not I saw him,
but he saw me. – The extras were all
kind of coming at Redford. We threw him on the cart and
I leaned over the top of him, and they drove the cart back in, and we got him out of the crowd. – It was a huge
revelation to me, about the nature of
fandom, and about the way people look at the
stars that they admire, and what they want from them, what they want from
them isn’t necessarily to see them, they want
them to see them, yeah. – But like this one right
here, he’s got written down I like your disguise. Nobody would really realize
that you’re my bodyguard. You know, he was joking around. We saw the whole thing. Everybody was wondering whose
face was gonna be first. Who’s gonna be out here. We had New York City actors. We had California actors. We had locals. – I was wearing suspenders
for the first three takes of the final scene, and they
threw the ball up in the air, and I went to catch the
ball and throw it back, and the first time, they
threw the ball up in the air, and I was going back to
catch it, and I fell… – So we were sitting
there, and I said to him, you know, we may or may
not be in this scene, but I’m going to
make sure that I am. – I did get in the
scene with Robert Duvall at the old Curry Express
building down on Main, and I’m in the background,
and I’m being interviewed. I get up, shake hands, and
walk out behind Duvall. – They said okay, scene,
and there was a dish of, I don’t know if it was
lasagna, or ravioli, but he had to keep on
eating the same dish with the ravioli’s
on and on and they’ll say stop; you would stop. – I saw my names in the credits. I’m in about 19, 20
different scenes. Don’t blink your eyes,
you might miss me, but I’m in there. – They did the
National Anthem scene. The camera was rolling
on like railroad tracks. It was going by and panning
each player as they go by, and I’m standing next to
that goofy Joe Charboneau, who at one point was
the American League Rookie of the Year
standing next to me, and the thing gets right to me, and now he’s gonna goose
me as the thing’s going by, and I’m trying to
be real serious, and that guy’s playing
games as usual. – One of the assistant
directors came over and said we have to have an
argument scene at third base, and Joe Charboneau
pointed to me. I umpired with Joe
in 1976 when Joe was in the Western Carolina League. So he knew I could go around
with the best of them. – I finally had a
speaking part. The director came up to be,
Barry Levinson, and said, Redford’s gonna come in,
and he’s gonna ask you, where’s Pop Fisher, and all you have to do
is say, he’s down there. – Second time, ball
flew right over my head. They were using a ball
machine to get the ball to me. – So I stretched and
I stretched my head, and I was looking like that, and then I sat down
and the scene was over, and I said I don’t
think I’m in it at all, and he said, well,
what can you do? – Alright, we have to do
the scene all over again, and then he would start
eating his ravioli’s or something with sauce,
and talking with Farnsworth for the scene, and it would
be stopped, and then… well anyway they did that scene
I don’t know how many times. – One interesting thing
that happened is that that Wonderboy
Bat they used… Redford didn’t like the
ones they made for him, So I had my own bats at
the time, and they asked… He was using mine, he
told the prop master that he wants the same type
of bat that Kevin Lester uses, and the prop master
came to me and said we need to get a half a
dozen of your bats overnight. – He comes walking in
with his Wonderboy bat. He goes, where’s Pop Fisher? and I said, he’s down there. All of a sudden
you heard, cut cut. Director looked at me
and said, are you loco? And I said, yes sir. He said, don’t talk, just point. – Well, Wilford
Brimley came out. I made a call at third base
where Phil Mankowski slid in. He was definitely safe,
but I called him out, and Wilford Brimley ran
out, and we had an argument, and he started kicking dirt,
and I said wait a second, I said, they didn’t do that
back in this time frame. – At the time, George
Brett had just had that pine tar incident
with the Yankee’s, and I said George Brett
can’t get his bats overnight, you’re not gonna
get them overnight. He says, well we need one of these bats for
shooting tomorrow. So I actually took
it home that night and sanded down the label, and took the liesel━ wood
chisel, took the name out, sanded everything down, took
it to the set the next morning. The artist put in
the lightning bolt, and those were the bats
he used in the movie. – I remember how we
were all on the ship the one day that
they did the scene where they were at the
table, Darren McGavin, and they were talking about
how much money he had. – This is a picture of
that night club scene, our set on the Queen Mary. – The third time they shot
it, I went back to get it, there go the suspenders. You know, by this point,
Barry Levinson and these guys, I’m looking over and
my dad’s there too, we’re looking over,
and they’re saying, well you know it’s getting dark, and you can tell they’re
looking at their watch, is this kid gonna catch it? – I had to point, so
Robert Redford came back. Quiet on the set, we’re
rolling, okay, action. Where’s Pop Fisher? Then I pointed. Cut, cut. You pointed in front
of Robert Redford. You never point in
front of his face. – So they ask me, and after
we talked for a little bit, I said, well he’s gotta
show me up since he can’t use bad language, so I said,
have him take his glasses off and shake them in my face cause that means
he’s showing me up, and I throw him out from there. – The movie came out,
and my husband and I went to Shay’s, because
Shay’s had the opening, and we were sitting
there, and all of a sudden they show the scene
and there I am sticking my head
up over the crowd. You can see me plain as
day, and he went crazy. There you are, there you
are, you’re in the movie. – The final announcement
was that I ended up, as they say, on the floor. There goes my claim to fame. – So now he says,
don’t point, just look. Okay, so, Robert Redford
came in, quiet on the set. Where’s Pop Fisher,
and I looked, cut, cut. Then all of a
sudden, try it again. Where’s Pop Fisher, I
look, cut and print. Movie came out, that was
never even in the movie. – They ended up
getting a fungo bat, and hitting the ball to me. So the first three, I
went zero for three, and then I went eight for eight when the hit the ball
to me with the bat. – I brought one here from 1994. When I opened it up, after they took out
taxes, it’s for 86 cents. It had to cost them
more to cut the check and send it than the
86 cents that I got. I tell people, after
I was in The Natural, I probably made more per
game as a fake umpire as I did as a professional. – Here’s one of the
things that we did that made things complicated. A certain scene is
supposed to take place in an afternoon and sun. – And you would start to
shoot one against one team, and the clouds would be over,
then the sun would come out. We can’t keep shooting so okay, everybody change their uniforms and we’ll have them
play a different team. – We stood around for a bit, waited for the sun to
come out to shoot a scene. – So then if it’s
cloudy, you said okay, how long is is
supposed to be cloudy? Well, it’s supposed to be
cloudy for a couple hours. So then, we said alright, well let’s shoot this
particular scene here when they’re doing this. This is all out on
the field, right. Well let’s do the so and so game when they’re playing St. Louis. – Well then, you’d start
to shoot that, and then, the clouds would come back,
and we’d go back and forth. So we had all of these pieces from different
scenes (mumbling). – So then, almost everybody
goes and changes the uniforms. Now we’re gonna play
St. Louis or whatever, and now it’s cloudy and
that will take place when it’s a cloudy
day for that sequence, and then all of a sudden you’re getting half way through that, and now the sun comes out again. – I was able to actually
hang out a little bit and watch it being filmed. I’d never watched a
film being made before, and it was great fun for me. – It was very frustrating. I remember that we shot
baseball for a long time, and it was very unsatisfying
because it was slow and it was piece meal and you
couldn’t really envision it. – Oh, okay, everybody
change the thing. Let’s switch back to
the so and so clothes and let’s finish that. Now you race back to pick
up that particular scene, and then you start to shoot
that, then it clouds up again. – One of the things that
was a revelation for me, movie companies on
location, man they work… That’s a long day. – And we would carry with
it, the script supervisor had to say you
had to shoot this, and remember you still have
a close up of the pitcher on the second strike, and
it was just maddening. – And then when it
rained a couple times, I think we shot something
or we actually just filmed it as if
it’s a rain out day. So you kept jocking things
in terms of weather. – And there was a
period when you, you weren’t sure if you’d
get out of there alive. – At a certain point in time,
I bet we had seven or eight kind of situations where
carrying those scenes weather related until
they all look like the right condition to go back to one of those
particular scenes. – But you have to understand,
baseball, shooting baseball is very difficult, and
you do it in pieces. – If you haven’t been there, it’s difficult to
really explain. They don’t even do━ It’s never done in sequence. – Just the amount of
setups that will go into angle of the pitcher
doing the wind up. Angle of the batter waiting. – [Voiceover] You got the
batter, you got the pitcher, you got the second base, you
got short stop, first, second. – All these little pieces
that you have to put together to build the drama
for a given moment. It’s fragment fragment
fragment fragment fragment. – So a simple thing
like a double play probably has 15 shots
minimum to make it up. – Which is one thing in terms
of all the different setups. But then, say somebody
runs to first base, you reach out and he’s out. But if he moved a
little bit too far and the camera
had to reach over, now you see the
stadium’s not filled because it’s supposed
to be packed, and now you see empty seats. – You know, you would
always try to get crowds to fill the stands. It was always hard, so
they would have raffles and they would give away TV sets and they would try
to get people there. – It started out
everybody just thought people tell you they want
to be an extra in a movie. But it wore on people
right after a while, right, you know, the hours. – [Voiceover] A lot
of sitting around. – Yeah, yeah. – Five o’clock in the morning,
I would go get dressed, and then work all day. – Nine and half weeks,
hurry up and wait, and all of a sudden you’re
filming six days a week. – We’re talking about
15, 16, 17 hour days. – I remember the long days. I remember 14 hours where
you sit there and wait, sit there and wait,
sit there and wait. I know how long it was for
me to be sitting waiting until two o’clock in the
morning to film something. – We couldn’t get enough extras. – And no CGI existed, so you
couldn’t put it in later on. You gotta go do the shot again. – If you know
anything about movies, you’re shooting this direction, then you’re over here, and
then you’re over there. – They would put the
background extras up in the right field bleachers. They’d fill them up, and then
when they’d move the shot, they’d move all the people
over to be behind the shot. – And I couldn’t
believe the time it took to shoot one scene, and the different angles
we’d have to set up for. – Most people don’t
realize when they volunteer to be an extra in a movie
sitting in the stands is that, watching films being
made can be pretty boring because you’re there
and most of the time somebody way down there
is saying a few lines to somebody else and
trying to hit a home run and all this other stuff. – And then you know, you
might move some of the crowd, which we had about
four or five thousand. Now you gotta move
them over a few seats.
Now you move ‘em over. Now you gotta do
something again, and then if you gotta
have a shot on third base, now you gotta move the
six thousand people around over to the third base
side to try to do it. – And then the camera
was going this way, they’d move the whole
crowd over, right. So in the movie it looks
like the whole damn place is filled with people. But it wasn’t. – And it was, logistically,
incredibly complicated because you didn’t have some
of the tricks you can do now in making some of these films. – We manufactured some extras. In other words we got the
big cardboard cutouts, we shot our real extras
in period clothing, and then we reproduced them. – Onto the cardboard cutouts. – (laughs) They did, they had
a bunch of cardboard cutouts, fake people too
that they put in. – On a windy day, these
things would blow over. So they had to be really
heavy and weighted down, and consequently, it
took forever to move them from one piece to the other. – We worked out tails off. We were there, sometimes
six o’clock in the morning and still at nine
o’clock at night, but it was a great opportunity and everybody was
so, they were real. – We had our core
production assistants trying to carry these fake
extras from one side of the ballpark to the other. – You know at
first, people think, oh it’s a movie, I’m
gonna be in a movie. You know, like people━
Last night, a guy said, I just want to be an extra
one day, you know what I mean, and a lot of people are
professional background people, but I said, well it’s not
always the best conditions. It doesn’t happen in 20
minutes, you know, so… – I had no idea what a truly
boring and laborious process making a movie can be. – And suddenly you’re
now shooting in September and it’s three o’clock
in the morning, and it’s getting really cold. – Surprise surprise,
it started to get cold, and baseball is not a game
that’s played in the cold. – So now they all got
coats on between takes, and then, alright
take off your coats. Take off the coats, everybody’s
gotta hide the coats. Six thousand people, hide
everything like get ready: “Come on, Roy!”
And they just do a shot. – So we had to be
careful about everything from condensation
on the breaths and it just, it would get really
cold for these poor extras who we dressed as though
they’re in the summer or just going into the fall. – And piece by piece by
piece, and three, four o’clock in the morning and
it’s cold in Buffalo. At least it was at that time when we were
shooting The Natural. – And with the actors,
sometimes they wear something quite light and the moment
the director would call cut, somebody would come in and
put a large jacket on them because they were freezing. – So, we shot the scene and
it took all day, all day, and I left there wondering is
this the way movies are made? If it is, it’s a tough job, it really is a
tough job, I think. – And then we did a
scene in a restaurant, and I believe it’s
Farnsworth and Redford are having dinner together,
and it was so satisfying because we were able
to shoot the scene. Have the full scene, and
know at the end of the day you had it, okay we got
the shot of him coming in, we got one scene down here. We got a two shot over the
shoulder, whatever else. It was like an apotheosis,
we were so thrilled to actually be able
to shoot a full scene. Randy Newman
put out a score that just fit,
it was bold, and it━ it said, we’re going
all the way with this, we’re not gonna shy away
from the mystical part of it. We’re gonna
give it everything. In the post production
of the film, because I wanted
Randy Newman, because I thought he would
be great, and he also
was a big baseball fan. Randy Newman’s music, which━ Randy had scored
some films before, but had done
nothing like this, and it’s just
an extraordinary,
magnificent score. Look at his music.
His humor in his music. It’s so obvious, yeah. It’s also really interesting,
the music, how━ how iconic
that’s become. I mean, you watch
a baseball game now, and somebody hits
a home run, and there’s Randy Newman’s score
from The Natural. – You guys had fun.
– We did then. [musical notes] And we had so little time
in post production, so while we’re cutting the film,
he would be in the━ literally
in the other room… …writing music. I was working in
the same place they were, I had an office
on Market Street. They were━ they cut the picture
in the same building. I’ll never forget
one time we were watching the footage
on the cam, and I could hear━
through the wall, I could hear, suddenly, him tinkering
on the piano, I could hear [vocalizes melody] When I finally
thought of what to do, when he hits
the home run, you know… [bright melody] …he could hear it. He was happy about it,
he said, when he heard it. I was happy
when I thought of it. ‘Cause I thought it would
get him around the bases. And that was the beginning
of the theme, but I was actually hearing him
while he was trying to find those notes that became the theme
for The Natural. So, in a way,
it was like the old… You know on Sunset Blvd.
where Jack Webb, he’s a young film editor
or something, or he’s a writer,
I can’t remember what it was, but he has a party, and all
the young film people go, and they’re all
working together… Uh, and I was never part
of anything like that, remotely, and we were all
in the same building, you know, Redford
would come in, and re-cut
what Barry had done, and then Barry
would do it again. As an experience,
it was great because I was getting an opportunity
to hear the composer Randy Newman,
at the moment he was inventing
a couple of his themes that became, really,
quite memorable. I sung “The Natural.” We had a lyric for it,
and recorded it, too. [playing piano and singing] ♪ Oh what a guy,
the Natural ♪ ♪ Oh what a man
was he ♪ ♪ He hit the ball
and loved them all ♪ It’s really awful. And periodically,
sometimes I’d hear him, playing something
on the piano. [piano melody] Ah, yeah, that was good. [vocalizes melody] I would say, “I wonder if
that’s the so-and-so scene,” [indistinct] …if we were near it,
we would zip down, and just try to play it
against the music
coming through the wall. [piano melody] A couple times━
you know, you’re guessing
that that’s what it’s for, and in fact,
that’s what it was for. and you can see,
oh this… this is gonna be
really exciting. And so everybody,
including myself, who wanted to do
my own ball playing, got to participate in a way
that was very organic. And when you put
all those pieces together, we ended up with,
what was for us at the time, a wonderful,
enjoyable experience. – There’s a scene in that movie that Barry Levinson,
he just got it. We were sitting around waiting, and Farnsworth and I played
name that tune in life for 20 years, and they caught
a little segment of that and put it in the movie. (whistling) – Dear Old Girl. ♪ Dear Old Girl, ♪ She speaks of how I love you. – In our own sweet world,
populated with dolls and clowns, and a prince and a big purple
bear, lives my favorite girl. Unaware of the worried frowns
we weary grown ups all wear. In the sun she dances
to silent music. To songs that are spun of gold from somewhere in
her own little head. One day, and all too soon, she’ll grow up, and
she’ll leave her doll and her prince, and
her silly old bear, and when she goes,
they’ll all cry, as they whisper goodbye,
they will miss her you see, so will I. – Malamud took
all of these things and just sort of mix
mastered them together in something that I
thought was extraordinary. – In my mind, we had
to push this film. Visually, in terms of
it’s style, et cetera, and so there wasn’t
something you could point to. – I think if you ask me
what makes someone great, or what makes something
great, a film great, I’m not original saying
this about anything. The attention to detail,
when people tell you what does that mean,
and you see it. – We would be out on the field, and Barry would go, you
want to get this shot, and he’d go, we need
about three minutes, and sure enough
three minutes pass, and the sun comes out
from behind the cloud, and he goes, okay let’s shoot. I mean, this guy was brilliant. – It wasn’t like,
“Well you know in the so
and so film they did this, which is like that,” there’s no reference
that I could think of. So you’re literally kind
of marching down a road to go to some place that no one had quite seen that way before. – We had a shot all lined
up, and Redford was supposed to come out of the tunnel,
and Barry Levinson, they got all ready to shoot it, had all the extras
in the right place, and he said, you know what, hang on, I want to
move the camera. So they started to break down, they were gonna move the camera, and I said to him, why do
you want to move the camera, what would you do differently? He goes, hang on, and
he flagged me over and he let me go
right onto the set, and right up next to the camera, and he said go ahead,
look through the lens. He goes, okay, take it
apart, and then he called me, flagged me over again
afterwards and said, now look at it again, do
you see the difference? It was just an angle
change, but it made Redford look so much different and
so much bigger in the frame, and I was hooked, that was it. I said this is what I
want to do for a living. – The music and
the way it was lit, and some of the things
with the baseball bat, and I think some of that had
kind of a magical realism feeling that made it kind
of transcend it’s time and really hold up. Caleb Deschanel, the cameraman,
who’s as good as they come, and what he did
with the mystical part of this uh, was, I thought,
quite extraordinary,
because he gave it a “bigger than life”
lighting quality. – If you take an audience
emotionally to a certain point, and particularly a movie like
this that’s so mythological is that there’s so
many elements of it, where you have Barbara
Hershey in black, and she’s silhouetted
against windows, and then men always
try to seduce them,
it’s the same thing. You can play around
with things like that. – And how do we do that? So that the challenge was
to try to get everybody on the same page for a movie
that we couldn’t reference. – To me, the greatest hero
of that entire film is the cinematographer,
Caleb Deschanel. – [Voiceover] How about Caleb
Deschanel the cinematographer? – Oh yeah, he’s genius. – And the other thing I
learned about a cameraman, in a specific is
Caleb Deschanel, he really needs, as
they say, precision. – Caleb Deschanel, I
remember the way he was and the way he worked, and
such a cinematic mastermind to me when it came to lighting. – And I can remember
sitting waiting for hours for the sun to be
just exactly right. – If he lit the shot, for me
to be looking right there, and then when we’re shooting,
somehow I moved over there, it wouldn’t work within
his lighting scheme. – We had everything set up,
and Caleb Deschanel said, you know what, the
lighting’s not great, we gotta do it again. – So we’d have to
do another take, and in certain movies
that doesn’t work because it doesn’t give the
actors that kind of liberty, that kind of freedom to go
wherever they want to do. – And everything
had to be precise. The sun had to be coming
down at a certain time between the trees, one day
we filmed at six o’clock, next day was 6:02 cause
the sun was later, and everything was just precise. – I’ll tell you one
funny experience about the end of the movie, which is Bob throwing
the ball to his son. – They’re concerned with
the look of the product, and uh, I was never concerned with that. – And it’s all of this perfect
light in this wheat field and everything, well, we’re
filming it, and, you know, it’s on the field and
the trees and everything. The sun’s shining, the spot,
we put Bob there and everything and we shoot a couple
of takes and suddenly the sun’s setting
and it disappears, and I look over and I see
another patch of sun out there, and I say, Bob, run over there, and we grab the camera
and go over there and we get that and
then the sun sets again. We go, Barry do we have it? He says, no no, we
need a couple… Okay, over there, let’s go, and we kept running
after the light for that last shot in the movie. – But in a movie like that,
you look at The Natural, and it’s just, the
editor, Stu Linder and I used to talk about we
could just take any frame out of any scene of that movie and frame it and
put it on a wall. It was that beautiful. – You know, talk
about mythology, there’s a wonderful
scene where Bob Duvall starts getting in his head
that he recognizes Roy Hobbs from somewhere,
he can’t remember, and he stops him in
the rain, and you know, and again, here you’re using
a meteorological element to help tell the story,
because there really is, there’s something
pending in this moment. You know at some point he’s
gonna realize who it is and he’s gonna bring it back and he’s gonna use it
against him in some way. – My god that movie is
beautiful to look at, and he made some things
which don’t necessarily look so wonderful, he made
them look just incredible. – You know, we had this
storm, and I literally set up the camera with
a thousand feet of film, and in those days a
thousand feet of film was about 12 minutes,
and we turned it on, with the lights on, and
just the clouds behind, and lightning,
and in 12 minutes, we probably got 100
flashes of lightning, some of which are in the movie. – It’s just those little,
almost, gems or segway’s in a movie that when you
move from scene to scene and all of a sudden
something else is happening or you hit the ball and
hear the sound of the bat. Hear Barry Levinson’s voice
being the baseball announcer. There were all (music
drowns out the speaker). There was one day
that everybody, I guess it was the day
that Glenn stands up, I can’t remember,
but, you had a scene, it was a different world than when we were just
all standing around. It was like, wow. – The day that I walked
in and I saw Glenn Close, watching it shot I really… Wow, that’s really powerful. But then, seeing it
on film, her standing, the light that was
placed behind her was so that it would go
right through her hat. – And then I placed a number
of extras in front of that, and we had it timed so
that when she stood up, one guy would move, and
then another guy would move, and then another guy would move, until finally it was like full
light on the back of her head. So it was all actually done
with members of the audience, stepping away from being
in front of the light. – That was a special,
sometimes there was really special
days when you think of who we were surrounded by. Now I look back, it’s 30 years. I’m like every other
cliche (mumbling). Really a magical
time from day one. It still is, it’s
great to sit down and watch every once in a while. – And it just worked it’s
magic, and it being in Buffalo, and just being in that era. I just simply enjoyed
that so so much. It was a magical moment in
time in my life, period. It was. – I like the fact that we
had a couple of train engines that we could shoot
with, you know? There’s something so
beautiful about those, and something so evocative
of that time period as well. – The train, with the train. – With the steam and
the lights behind it. He’s just a magician. – In the early
part of the movie, when Roy Hobbs meets Barbara
Hershey in the train, and she comes in
and talks to him. – Caleb, the cinematographer,
was always filling the train with smoke to create
this fantastic visual. – Well, we didn’t really have
any, for the night time stuff, we didn’t have any… The other stuff we had
plates that we had shot that were in the background. So during the daytime,
you see actual plates that were filmed and moving
backgrounds and everything. But at night we
didn’t have anything, so it was all being
created with lights moving by and everything, and in
order to make the lights more interesting, I had a
lot of smoke on the set. – And Redford one day
brought gas masks, so we
did the take with gas masks on. Funny but got the point across that we could not
breathe, basically. – [Voiceover] And, sort
of unbeknownst to me, I guess it was bothering
Bob Redford a little bit. At one point, I remember
sort of looking away and looking back
and there was Bob wearing a gas mask. He’s sitting at the
table in the train, just letting me know
that he knew that I was using a lot of smoke… It’s not real smoke, it’s
supposedly some kind of smoke that’s good for you, that’s
made out of, I don’t know what. – At the end of every evening,
for over a week or so, we did the exploding
lights and things, so, Redford hits the home run,
Hobbs hits the home run, an explosion and
he rounds first. Alright, so that’s
the end of that one. – There was simply
no changing it. Thank God, because of the
home run and the way he shot that home run
catapulted it into… I mean, the home
run is so luminous, that it really transcends
the cliche of an ending that you would normally
think, oh yeah,
hits a home run. – And then the next night,
he’s rounding second base, the explosion at the
end of that night. Okay, that’s two nights. – But, you know, if you think
of it in terms of reality, it’s not real at all. When you get to the
end of the movie and he hits a home run
and all the lights explode it’s not real, but the
audience is totally with it because you’ve taken
them with the story to a point where you go, yeah, this is what we, as an audience, you want that to happen, and that’s why it
fulfilled itself. – And then he’s gonna
round, from another angle, as he’s rounding, an explosion,
and that’s another night, and so every night
we’re ending with it, and we’re doing piece meal, and you know that
the crew is going, what in the world are we doing? – You realize how important
that is in a movie, when you’re talking
about a movie that is a myth, it’s a fable, the sheer forcefulness
of the imagery is so integral to what this
movie is trying to achieve in terms of the
story and everything. Without that, you have removed a narrative layer
completely from the film. – I just had fun doing it
cause I like to play ball. At one time I wanted
to be a ball player, and then being able
to dedicate my number, number nine to my
childhood hero, which was Ted Williams. I would like to happily sign off and wish you all a
very happy anniversary. From number nine,
Roy Hobbs, thanks.

12 thoughts on “The Natural: The Best There Ever Was – Full Movie

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this, and next time I watch the movie, a lot of these little bits and pieces will fall in place. The people, the cast, and the locals are just like real life people from a Norman Rockwell painting.

  2. I was so happy to see that someone put together a retrospective about this magical film. I am in awe that you managed to get so many 1:1 interviews, and think the addition of the local Buffalo extras was great. Thank you for putting the final focus on the cinematography, which has no match. Would love to support you in your future endeavors.

  3. Great documentary! Thank you. Did you ask Mr. Levinson why he changed the ending of Bernard Malamud’s book? What did Mr. Levinson say was Malamud’s reaction to this change? Thanks.

  4. I liked this film of baseball it's similar to the uk game rouders.
    There is nothing to talk about when you only watch film and movies

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