Cinema: Slumming in The Lower Shallows IRONWEED

Directed by Hector Babenco; Screenplay by William Kennedy

Poor Francis Phelan. Once he was something like "the Natural," an infielder for the Washington Senators, good glove man, top-of-the-lineup smile, tough as Ty Cobb sliding into second with his spikes flaring at the shortstop's groin. When baseball stardom eluded Francis, he tried being a husband to Annie -- best kisser in Albany -- and a father to Billy and Peg. That didn't work out either, so he hit the road and fell into the arms of Helen Archer, a singer who became a sod. There was some trouble with the law too: that scab he had killed, and a life...