Monday, April 09, 2007

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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.

5 comments:

Alanna said...

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).

So in other words, Buffalo was the only place they could find with a stadium that was crappy and run-down enough.

I keed, I keed!

MW said...

My mom often tells me the story of how my dad, who worked at a building where they were filming a scene, called to tell her Robert Redford was around. She drove from Kenmore to downtown Buffalo, dropped Baby Me off with my dad, went to watch the filming, and swears up and down Robert Redford waved to her.

P.S. At this point in my life I couldn't wait for you to be born so we could hang out.

J.J. said...

I have never been so moved by a comment.

Beedow said...

i don't know anything about the natural, but i can't wait to see the savages.

boomsauce.

cattleworks said...

Yeah... I thought the film's ending was way different than the book's. I never read the book, but I read that somewhere.
I also read something about how Malamud couldn't leave his house for days after the movie opened, I think because he was so depressed.

Having said that, I love the movie.
I'm not really a baseball fan, and I think Redford's character is weirdly uncharismatic and uninteresting. He's just nice and sincere and filled with boyish dreams, even as a middle-aged man, but I still feel a lot of sympathy for him.
I find the supporting characters more interesting as characters, except maybe Memo Paris (sp? Kim Basinger's character).

A dear friend of mine lived on the street where they were using a high school stadium as the Chicago stadium, I believe. can't remember the high school's name, though. Okay, maybe I got that wrong. Maybe they were just shooting exteriors on the street and using another lcation for the game shots.
But she saw redford: "He's like a kid, with this older man's head!"
But I remember that the Parkside Candies at Main and W. Oakwood was used as the Chicago soda shop where Redford and Glenn Close meet again after so many years.
They built this wooden structure outside the building to fill in for the supports of the raised subway train.
I lived on EAST Oakwood at the time and had no idea. I thought it was some weird construction project and didn't learn until later that it had something to do with the movie.

A great, or even competent, detective, I ain't.

But even with hindsight it was cool.