Directed by Barry Levinson, who had made his directorial debut with Diner (1982), the critical plaudits the film won was enough to pique Hollywood's interest, and Levinson was offered this adaptation of Bernard Malamud's 1952 novel, which he accepted. It's a sentimental tale, but it has a good cast, and it's a novel enough idea, and it works on screen. It's a baseball film for people who don't like baseball, and it has a touch of fantasy about it. It begins in 1923, when 19-year-old Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) is given a tryout with the Chicago Cubs, where he strikes out "The Whammer" (Joe Don Baker). However, his promising career comes crashing down when he's shot by Harriet Bird (Barbara Hershey). Cut to 1939, and Hobbs is back in action when he's signed up by the New York Knights by owners Pop Fisher (Wilford Brimley) and Red Blow (Richard Farnsworth). Although they're non-plussed at having signed up a "middle-aged rookie", he soon surprises them all, and Hobbs' secret weapon is a bat he made when he was a boy, which he calls Wonderboy, and his success turns the clubs fortunes around. If you're wondering where you've seen this before, the answer is in the Simpsons episode Homer at the Bat, but that doesn't stop The Natural from being an enjoyable film, and it has a good supporting cast including Robert Duvall, Glenn Close, Kim Basinger and Michael Madsen.