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Stylish, warm and fun to watch
9/10 (Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon.)2 years ago
This movie is about ten times better than it has any right to be considering how sappy director Penny Marshall could have been tempted to make it, and how phony is the actual baseball played by the young women. (More on this below.)
What makes it work are fine performances by Geena Davis as catcher Dottie Hinson, "the best player in the league," and Lori Petty as her younger sister, Kit Keller. Geena Davis absolutely looks the part with her cool confidence and stately figure while Lori Petty is scrappy and believable as the little sister whose puck and determination set the stage for a sister-rivalry climax at the end.
Jon Lovitz as Ernie Capadino, the baseball talent scout, is a crackup as he delivers just about all the best one liners. (Example: he's watching Dottie and Kit milk the cows and asks, "Doesn't that hurt them?" Geena shrugs for the city slicker, "They don't seem to mind." Ernie thinks about it and then says, "Well, it would bruise the heck out of me," which was doubly funny since he has his anatomy confused.) But the guy who really holds the whole thing together is Tom Hanks as one-time home run king Jimmy Dugan, who is now the Rockford Peaches' alcoholic manager. I have seen Tom Hanks in a number of films, but I don't think he was ever any better than he is here. His transformation from a crude, uncaring drunk to the team's hard-nosed but soft-hearted leader is very well and believably done. And Hanks was never more charming and seldom funnier.
Just as good as the work of the fine cast is Marshall's clear, old-fashioned direction. In many ways this film is a throwback to an earlier time when films set out to warm the hearts of the audience and uplift their spirits. Sure, there is evil in the world and you can't win them all, but you can try, is what this film makes us feel, and if you do, something good will happen. There is of course a somewhat self-conscious retrospective look at the sorry political and social state of women sixty years ago, but Marshall does not wallow in the politics. Instead she emphasizes a fun-to-watch tale with real human characters. The unpredictable, but believable ending was very agreeable.
Okay now to some of the problems with the "baseball." Notice that we first see Kit as a softball pitcher. How she made the transition from throwing underhanded to being one of the best overhand hardball throwers in the league in just a few months is...well, doubtful. And the outfits they wore!
Ever try to slide into second trying to break up the double play without sliding pads or even jersey pants? I don't think so. The girls were bare-legged. To Marshall's credit she does show one girl with a huge strawberry bruise on her thigh. Furthermore for those viewers who have actually played baseball, the way many of the young women threw and caught the ball was again, shall we say, doubtful. Marshall employed as extras some young ladies who could actually play a little and we see some shots of their style and grace, but the only star who could even pretend to play at that level would be Rosie O'Donnell. Madonna has some athletic ability, but to imagine her patrolling center field and hauling down long drives strains credibility.
Okay, so what? If we put Tom Hanks at bat against even the most mediocre of Class A pitchers, it would be obvious that he is no home run king. In fact, I think Penny Marshall did a great job of creating and maintaining the illusion of Big League skills for the players so that we were not distracted from the story itself. Skillful editing helped.
By the way, if they gave Academy Awards for a performance in a role short of a supporting role but longer than a cameo (and maybe they should), Megan Cavanagh would have won it for her touching impersonation of Marla Hooch, a painfully shy and vulnerable, less than pretty girl from the farm who finds herself as a baseball player in the city as she steals some guy's heart with an unselfconscious, boozy, off-key torch song. I also loved the scene where she is rocketing line drives off the walls and through the windows of the high school gymnasium.
Note the appearance of David L. Lander as the radio play-by-play guy. He's best known as the wacky/creepy "Squiggy" Squiggman from the old Laverne and Shirley TV sit-com. Here he plays it mostly straight but does get to wear his hat with the bill up as Leo Gorcey did in the East Side Kids (AKA The Bowery Boys) movies from the early forties.
Bottom line here: Uplifting, fun, and even worth seeing again.
What a wonderful film!
10/10 I love this film! Seeing Geena Davis, Lori Petty, Rosie O'Donnell and Madonna in one film is fantastic. Having it directed by Penny Marshall makes it all the better. After I watched it, for some strange reason I felt I'd watched an extended episode of "Laverne & Shirley" but this is great for the comedy!2 years ago
Tom Hanks was magnificent with all the comic touches that endear him to so many of us.
The older version of Dottie at the beginning and ending of the story is NOT Geena Davis made up to look older - neither are any of the other ladies! An excellent casting decision was made to have older actresses play these parts - Lynn Cartright was chosen to play Dottie (Geena Davis) in her late 60's and she was a dead-ringer for Geena!
Watch for Tea Leoni (as Racine Belles 1st-base player), Eddie Mekka (Carmine on "Laverne & Shirley" - he dances with Madonna!) and David L. Lander (Squiggy from "L & S" - radio announcer.)
Brings a tear to my eye no matter how many times I watch it - right up there with FIELD OF DREAMS!
Entertaining look at an obscure piece of sporting history
7/10 Like most Englishmen, I know about as much about baseball as the average American knows about cricket. I am also not a great fan of sporting films in general, although there are a number of exceptions. Despite this, however, I generally love baseball films, of which there were a number of good examples in the late eighties and early nineties. ('Eight Men Out', 'Field of Dreams' and 'The Natural' all spring to mind). There is something about the sport that seems to lend itself to the cinema; perhaps British filmmakers should consider making a film about cricket, as the two sports have a lot in common.2 years ago
During the Second World War many of America's male baseball stars were drafted into the forces, and it appeared that the nation might be deprived of its favourite sport. An entrepreneur therefore had the idea of creating an all-female baseball league. 'A League of their Own' tells the story of some of the women who played in that league.
At the centre of the drama is the rivalry between two sisters, Dottie and Kit, who sign for the same team, the Rockford Peaches. The sisters have contrasting characters. Dottie is the more talented player, but Kit is more aggressive and determined to succeed. Kit's aggression and the sibling rivalry between her and Dottie lead to dissension in the team's dressing room, and Kit is traded to a rival team, the Racine Belles. The climax of the film comes when Rockford and Racine meet in the finals of the league championship, with Kit and Dottie on opposite teams.
The film has some interesting observations about the social values of the era in which it is set. During this period there was a conflict between traditional views of femininity and the need, caused by wartime conditions, for women to take on what had historically been masculine roles. Before the war, there had been only very limited opportunities for women in professional sport; most sports, such as tennis and athletics, in which women were permitted to compete were strictly amateur. During the war, they were allowed to take part, but were still expected to conform to the ideal of being 'ladylike'. In the film, players are selected as much for their sex appeal as for their talent (Ernie Capadino, the cynical, sexist talent scout, wants to leave one player out of the team because he considers her insufficiently glamorous) and they are required to attend a 'charm school' and to conform to a strict code of sexual morality. Dottie and Kit can be seen as representing the two sides of this conflict. For all her talent, Dottie's heart is not really in professional baseball, and her real wish is to return to her old life as a housewife as soon as her husband returns from the war. Kit, on the other hand, is single, and sees the game as a way of escaping from her previously dull existence.
Although Geena Davis was quite good as Dottie, the two best performances came from two actors I had not previously heard of, Jon Lovitz in the cameo role of Ernie Capadino, and Lori Petty as Kit, who brought out the fierce determination and will to win of her character. I am surprised that she has not gone on to become a bigger star than she has. It was interesting to see Madonna (normally found in starring roles) in a supporting role as Mae, one of the Peaches who rebels against the strict moral code.
Tom Hanks stars as Jimmy Dugan, the coach of the Rockford Peaches, in a role created largely because the filmmakers felt that they needed a big male star. Dugan was himself a famous baseball player in his time, but his career was wrecked by his heavy drinking. At the beginning of the film, Dugan is played as a figure of fun, making blunders such as urinating in front of the women, but being too drunk to notice or to care. Later on, Dugan sobers up and develops into a mixture of inspirational coach and dispenser of homespun philosophy along the lines of 'There's no crying in baseball'. At neither stage, however, does the film bring out the genuinely tragic aspects of Dugan's fall from grace as a great, or potentially great, athlete ruined by alcoholism. (One can think of modern parallels such as George Best or Diego Maradona). The actor may be at fault here; during the early part of his career Hanks always seemed a limited actor, convincing in 'Mr Nice Guy' roles but unable to portray more unsympathetic characters. ('Bonfire of the Vanities' being another example).
There were one or two other things about the film that I did not like. I felt we should have seen more of Kit between her transfer to Racine and her reappearance in the finals. The opening and closing scenes, showing a reunion of the surviving players more than forty years later, did not add much to the story. (They did, however, correct the misleading impression given in the rest of the film that women's professional baseball came to an end with the war; in fact, it survived until 1954). Overall, however, this was an entertaining film, well worth watching. 7/10.
"There's no crying in baseball!"
10/10 A League of their Own, another classic movie that I grew up with. I have to admit it, I'm a girl, I totally fell in love with this movie. But I'm one of the rare girls that loves baseball with a passion, I was raised in a very baseball oriented family, we live in Chicago, we kinda have to enjoy sports, lol. But growing up you wonder why baseball, football, basketball are more for the boys vs. the girls, girls can play but are not famous for it and if they are an athlete are accused of being manly. It's a tough world, but when I was 7 years old A League of their Own was released in theaters, my family saw this movie together and my life changed. Sounds silly, but this was the movie that reminded me to stay strong, at the time when women were expected to stay in the kitchen, as hard as they had to work for it, there was a women's baseball league during WWII. A League of their Own explores this hard but extremely fun time for the girls of the All American Baseball League.2 years ago
When World War II threatens to shut down Major League Baseball, candy manufacturing magnate Walter Harvey decides to create a women's league to make money. Ira Lowenstein is put in charge of public relations and scout Ernie Capadino is sent out to recruit players. Capadino likes what he sees in catcher Dottie Hinson. She's a terrific hitter and he offers her a tryout, but the married woman is content where she is, working in a dairy and on the family farm in Oregon while her husband is away at war. He's less impressed with her younger sister, pitcher Kit Keller, who loves the game passionately but appears to be less talented. He finally lets her come along when she persuades Dottie to give it a try for her sake. When the trio arrive at the tryouts in Chicago, they meet Doris and Mae. They make it onto the team, The Peaches who are managed by drunkard former baseball great Jimmy Dugan. Jimmy initially treats the whole thing as a joke, leaving the managerial duties to Dottie. However, he takes over when he sees how hard and well his team plays. The league attracts little interest at first. With a Life magazine photographer in attendance, he asks them to do something spectacular. When a ball is popped up behind home plate, she catches it while doing splits; the resulting photograph makes the cover of the magazine. More and more people show up and the league becomes a huge success.
The acting is absolutely superb, we have actors on top of their game, Tom Hanks who delivers the memorable "There's no crying in baseball!" speech. Geena Davis who was a great heroine as the star of the league who just wants her husband home from the war but is hanging onto the league for her little sister's sake. Even Madonna and Rosie O'Donnell are great together and have awesome chemistry as best friends Mae and Doris. This is one of those chick flicks that everyone has to see because it worked on every level. Penny Marshall truly brought out the pain these girls had to go through to be taken seriously. The ending always gets me in tears I have to admit, just knowing that these girls hung in there and stayed strong when everyone told them that girls couldn't play ball, let's hope that one day they'll have the opportunity again.
A fitting,funny tribute
8/10 Little did I know as a child that a professional women's baseball league even existed.That just goes to prove what little recognition these ladies have gotten over the years.This film finally pushes them over the top in terms of getting that recognition.Excellent perception and direction by Penny Marshall here in recreating this long ago time;a time of war when the nation needed the simple pleasures of life more than ever,to help them escape,at least temporarily,the horrors of the goings on overseas.With most of the male professional ball players overseas,our beloved women were called upon to fill the void,and boy did they ever fill it!It makes me wish, in some ways,that I could have been there to see it all.A fine comic performance here by Tom Hanks,as Jimmy Dugan, the somewhat reluctant and ignorant(at least,at first) manager of the Rockford Peaches. Outstanding performances as well from Madonna,Rosie O'Donnell,Geena Davis,and Lori Petty.A finer tribute could not have been made.Well done.2 years ago