There's a movie opening this week that makes fly-fishing look so wonderfully seductive, even nonfishermen who see it will want to rush out and buy one of those funny hats festooned with flies and fishhooks. But A River Runs Through It, which has been adapted with meticulous care from Norman Maclean's achingly evocative novella, is no more simply about fishing than was Moby Dick or The Old Man and the Sea.
A River Runs Through It is the story of two sons of an uncompromising Scots Presbyterian minister who settled in Montana near the Big Blackfoot River shortly after the turn of the century. "In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly-fishing," says the film's narrator, repeating the novella's famous first line. "If our father had had his say, nobody who did not know how to fish would be allowed to disgrace a fish by catching him." In the dance of the river's bright waters, these men stand twirling their lines—spidery filaments of light that connect them, one to another, in ways their lives do not.
The movie is best when it doesn't stray too far from the river, which director Robert Redford has invested with a kind of terrifying poetry. The performances of Craig Sheffer and the young, Redford-handsome Brad Pitt as the sons seem just right. But it is the narration of Redford himself that forms the majestic spine of the movie. It is seamless filmmaking, and it flows effortlessly off the screen and into the imagination. "Eventually, all things merge into one," the narrator says, "and a river runs through it."
Battle of the Bays
Baseball has sullied itself by allowing an eye-gouging match between two otherwise civilized bay areas, Tampa and San Francisco, to drag on over the Giants. Last week any chance San Francisco may have had to keep the Giants probably went up in the smoke being blown by a group of local investors who—with the backing of Charlotte Hornet owner George Shinn—claimed to have the money to match the $111 million bid made in August by a group that hopes to move the team to St. Petersburg, Fla. One baseball executive in a position to know described the local group's effort as "a charade from the start, with stalling tactics very much part of the strategy" to drive off the Florida suitors.
Not to be outdone, the St. Petersburg group in August began paying a New York public relations firm $55,000 to wage a campaign to discredit Shinn and thereby damage San Francisco's chances of retaining the Giants. The p.r. firm churned out almost daily press releases in recent weeks detailing allegations of fraud against Shinn's businesses lodged by a Charlotte, N.C., television station and the Federal Communications Commission Mass Media Bureau when he sought an FCC license two years ago. Shinn eventually withdrew his application and was never directly implicated in any wrongdoing. If this is what passes for hardball in St. Petersburg, getting a team won't be enough to make it a big league town.
There Will Always Be an England
A tournament exclusively for golfers 80 and older was played in England this summer on the Moortown championship course in Leeds. The event was the idea of millionaire Lawrence Batley, who is himself 82, and attracted a field of 88 men, the oldest of whom was 90. An English friend who was in the gallery writes: "Each competitor was considerately handed bags of potato crisps on the first tee and a miniature bottle of whisky 'in view of the chill air.' One of the youngest competitors, 12-handicap Charles Mitchell, won the tournament with a gross score of 81, one stroke over his age. Sadness tinged the proceedings when an 81-year-old player, Frank Hart, was taken ill while playing the fourth hole and died on the way to hospital. Despite the tragedy, the tournament continued after organiser Bob Wilkinson said all competitors felt this was what Hart would have wished."