Saturday, May 14, 2011

Not the Natural I know

In the past, I have talked about sports movies whose endings I did not like due to the lack of logic involved ranging from a fat freshman at the end of a 5 on 3 penalty kill beating 3 upperclassmen down the ice to Mark Grace hitting a 500 ft home run to a college football team of only 18 walkons winning its only game against the number one team in the country.

There was one movie I failed to mention but I find its ending worse than the other movies for a different reason. The Natural. The ending scene is one of the most memorable ones in movie history and the music played as Roy Hobbs rounds the bases is often heard at ballgames and it makes me sick to my stomach when I hear it. Here is the scene I referenced:

Why does it bother me? Believe it or not, I have read the book. In high school, every other Monday involved a test about a novel and it was the first book of my junior year.

Following a conversation about books whose movie was adapted differently I went to Wikipedia and here is the plot summary for the end of the book written in 1952 (spoiler):

The judge offers Hobbs increasing amounts of money to lose the final game for the Knights. Hobbs makes a counter-offer of $35,000, which is accepted. That night, unable to sleep, he reads a letter from Iris. After seeing the word 'grandmother' in the letter, he discards it. The next day, he does play. During an at-bat, he fouls a pitch into the stands that strikes Iris, injuring her. The Wonderboy bat also splits in two lengthwise. Iris tells Roy that she is pregnant with his child. Now he's determined to do his best for their future. At the end of the game, with a chance to win it, the opposing team sends in Herman Youngberry, a brilliant young pitcher, who strikes out Hobbs, ending the season for the Knights.

The book ends with Hobbs seeking out the judge, Memo, and Gus Sands, hitting both the judge and Sands. Sands has his glass eye knocked out of his head and the judge has a bowel movement in his pants. Memo fires a gun at Hobbs, then puts it in her mouth. Hobbs takes it away from her, throws the bribe money at her and denounces her; she accuses him of murdering Bump. That evening, as he leaves the stadium, he sees a late edition newspaper headline accusing him of throwing the game. A newsboy asks him to tell him it is not true, but Hobbs breaks down and weeps.

Since the novel was written 33 years after the 1919 White Sox scandal where 8 players were banned from the game for taking a bribe to lose, it is likely that the Roy Hobbs character was based on Shoeless Joe Jackson since newsboy scene at the end of the book is similar to the situation at the Jackson trial. Personally I find that ending more realistic.

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