Tag Archives: Darren McGavin

Film: The Natural

The New York Daily News and ESPN both named The Natural as the sixth-best sports movie of all time. Uploaded by robertedwardauctions.com.

Robert Redford was at his best as Roy Hobbs, the “natural” baseball player whose career was changed forever by an encounter with a deranged fan. Years go by, and Hobbs finally gets a second chance at the big leagues.

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The movie is told almost as myth, with supernatural elements in many scenes. As a boy, Hobbs carved a bat from a branch of a tree split by lightning. He carves a lightning bolt into it, and calls it “Wonderboy.” There’s a wonderful scene in which Hobbs, as a pitcher, strikes out “The Whammer,” an obvious doppelganger for Babe Ruth. And the final scene is over the top as a badly hurt Hobbs hits a home run to win the pennant as lightning flashes in the sky.

The Natural was directed by Barry Levinson, a director who was hot in the 1980s (Diner, Tin Men, Rain Man, Good Morning, Vietnam).  It had an excellent cast, featuring Glenn Close (Academy Award nomination), Barbara Hershey, Wilford Brimley, Robert Duvall (Great American Things, August 21, 2009), and Darren McGavin.

Both the New York Daily News and ESPN named The Natural as the number 6 sports movie of all time.

Movie: A Christmas Story

I want an Official Red Ryder carbine-action two-hundred-shot Range Model air rifle! Uploaded by dirtyharrysplace.com.

Wonder if this movie will be on TV this year? Oh, yeah. About a thousand times. (That’s called hyperbole.) And you know what? That’s okay, because this movie is as much a part of Christmas in America as red nose reindeer.

It’s the brainchild of writer Jean Shepherd, who I happened to hear speak once. At the time he wasn’t happy that this film had become so popular. No, he was bitter because he thought the creators of The Wonder Years had stolen his idea of an adult doing a voiceover remembering his childhood. Who knows. Maybe they did.

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Like all great productions, the casting of A Christmas Story was inspired. Darren McGavin was a decent character actor who made his way through a number of small TV series and movies, but he was perfect as Ralphie’s Dad. Melinda Dillon was a great mom. And how could any kid other than Peter Billingsley have played Ralphie? I submit that they could not!

Of course, when we remember this movie, we remember the vignettes. The Old Man cussing up a storm while doing battle with the furnace. Ralphie getting his Little Orphan Annie secret decoder pin, only to be told to drink more Ovaltine. The Old Man winning “a major award.” Ralph accidentally saying the “queen mother” of all swear words. And my favorite, when Flick gets his tongue stuck on the flagpole.

And this is such a quotable movie, here are some of the memorable lines:

RALPHIE, AS ADULT: (Talking about his father) “He worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium; a master.”

RALPHIE: “I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!”
SANTA: “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.”

RALPHIE, AS ADULT: “Some men are Baptists, others Catholics; my father was an Oldsmobile man.”

WAITERS IN CHINESE RESTAURANT: “Deck the harrs with boughs of horry, fa ra ra ra ra, ra ra ra ra.”

FLICK: “Are you kidding? Stick my tongue to that stupid pole? That’s dumb!”
SCHWARTZ: “Well I double dog dare you!”