This upbeat adaptation of Bernard Malamud's gritty allegory of the world of baseball is one of those test cases for the mood or generosity of the spectator: give yourself over completely to its wide-eyed brand of mythologising, and it will reward you with a tidal wave of emotion, hero-worship and strange medieval morality tale; a flicker of disbelief, however, and you'll see nothing but its faults. The Arthurian basis to Redford's rise to baseball stardom means that the narrative can include very un-Hollywoodlike devices such as an unexplained 16-year gap when he is out in the cold, expiating his fall from grace with a murderous femme fatale. Moreover, this mythological basis releases the cast from the necessity for naturalism (despite the title). There are also other things to enjoy: a great line up of supporting actors (especially Brimley and Farnsworth doing their grouchy old man double act), Caleb Deschanel's photography, Randy Newman's score. Let yourself go and be rewarded by the sight of a hero running home to victory through clouds of fire. CPea.