The Natural

Robert Redford is the diamond geezer at the heart of this mythical baseball drama

Robert Redford positively glows with integrity as Roy Hobbs, a 1920s baseball player whose natural sporting prowess seems to be taking him into the big league – that is, until he meets Barbara Hershey.

This wilfully strange fable attempts to graft the chivalric code of King Arthur onto the American sports world. Instead of Excalibur, Hobbs wields a bat fashioned from a tree struck by lightning; the team he plays for is called the New York Knights; and instead of Guinevere, there’s the sight of an all-white Glenn Close standing regally in the stadium to inspire him to great deeds.

The strands of the story hardly weave together, and the relationship between Redford and the scheming Kim Basinger is far too low key to convince. However, his uncanny ability to dominate the screen by doing nothing more than keep a far away look in his eyes is constantly in evidence and the film ranks alongside The Great Gatsby as one of his brightest showcases.