BUFFALO -- The last truly great film shoot here was The Natural in 1983. I wandered around the set in utero. My aunt and grandfather were extras in War Memorial Stadium (built in '37, demolished in '88). The director's cut DVD was just released. It's $24.95 and, according to The Buffalo News review, only mentions this fine city in the context of its unpredictable and chilly weather. Typical.
The film owes much to Buffalo, which was able to provide it with a stadium and vibe that fit the Depression-era time period (location scouts had searched everywhere, including Puerto Rico, but found nothing suitable). I have not viewed the new DVD, but it may wind up in my Netflix queue. To tell you the truth, I was devastated when I read the book (by Bernard Malamud) a couple years back. It has the exact opposite ending of the movie. It's unfathomably sad. It knocked the wind out of me. The movie's climax is exultant and mythic, buoyed by one of the greatest film scores of all time (Randy Newman's career zenith). The book is piercing -- a sharp requiem for a dream.
Read the book. Then watch the movie. They're equal in tone and plot until the end. Then Hollywood takes over. If life were only like that!
Link buffet: My grandfather's memories as a stand-in. / The next Buffalo-shot movie is Linney and PSH's The Savages, out in September.