A League of Their Own (1992)

league of their own IMDb

A League of Their Own is right up my alley, as it combines a number of things that I love. It’s got history, feminism, comedy, Tom Hanks… The fact that it happens to be about baseball, which I generally do not care about, is beside the point. This is just an all-around great film, with a terrific cast, quotable lines, and an ending that leaves me sniffling every time.

This is a fictional story about the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The women started playing ball in 1943, in a bid to keep baseball in the public eye while many MLB players were fighting in World War II. For 11 years women continued to play, until interest in the League waned in the 1950s. The boys were back from war, and it was no longer acceptable for the girls to play ball.

A League of Their Own shows the founding of the AAGPBL, and is a pretty accurate portrayal of what it was like for female ball players in the 1940s. These women were bound by rules of conduct that their male counterparts were not, many of which are shown in the movie. Charm school was part of spring training, drinking and smoking in public was not allowed, and chaperones accompanied each team while traveling. And yes, the ladies played baseball in skirts. Not great for sliding into home, but they sure were popular with the crowd!

Not only does this movie show a slice of American and sports history that was largely unknown to audience’s before its release, it does so with a mix of comedy and drama that honors the real-life people involved. Geena Davis stars as Dottie, a ball player who reluctantly joins the AAGPBL when a scout refuses to take her younger sister unless Dottie comes too. This is easily Davis’ best known work, and for good reason. She is excellent as the pragmatic older sister, and a perfect match for Tom Hanks’ Jimmy Dugan, a washed up Cubs slugger forced into managing Dottie’s team. Hanks has played so many great roles, but this is one of my favorites.

A League of Their Own also spawned one of the most quoted lines in moviedom: “There’s no crying in baseball!” I particularly love this line, because it is delightfully ironic. The stereotype that men don’t cry is still alive and well, and yet, it’s largely ignored in the context of sports. I guarantee there were tears shed the night the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, both on and off the field. (I’m sure there were plenty shed all those years they didn’t win, as well.) And if the Cubbies win this year? Expect waterfalls.

And speaking of crying… this movie is a reliable tear jerker for me. The sister story gets me every time, as does the women’s history angle. If I’ve somehow managed to not cry before the end of the film, I will lose it when the ladies start singing the AAGPBL theme song in the Baseball Hall of Fame: “Batter up! Hear that call!/The time has come for one and all/To play ball…”

Is someone chopping onions in here?

Rating: A

This is the best sports related film I have ever seen. One of the most quotable films of the 90s, led by a solid cast including Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, and a surprisingly good Madonna.

The film is set during World War II, when all of the male baseball players have gone off to fight Hitler. The team owners decide to start a women’s baseball league to fill some seats while the guys are fighting the good fight. Dottie Henson (Davis) and her kid sister Kit (Lori Petty) get asked to try out and end up becoming members of the Rockford Peaches, managed by former big leaguer Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks). The film chronicles the first season of the female league and all of the ups and downs that came with it, like the girls having to deal with rampant sexism at every corner, particularly early on from their manager who is less than thrilled he has been asked to manage girls. Along the way, the girls’ spirit wins through, and eventually Dugan accepts them as real ball players, as does the crowds at games.

This is a really good movie. I have always loved baseball so it would not be hard for me to be impressed with a film that revolves around the sport, but this film has touched a nerve with the general public like not many sports related films can. I am sure it has something to do with the film showcasing female ball players. Ordinarily, sports films will revolve around men and their macho antics. This film is able to attract a whole new audience by putting the spotlight on women. A brilliant performance by Tom Hanks does not hurt either. He is terrific as the drunk manager who eventually learns the error of his sexist ways.

The girls in this film also give their all. Many of the injuries seen on film were actual injuries caused on the set when the girls got into the action a little too hard. Geena Davis is great as the all-star catcher of the Rockford Peaches. I must also single out Madonna for praise. I have not been a fan of much of her film work, but here she works so well. She is great as May, the man eating centre fielder. Another actor who is due some praise is Jon Lovitz. He has a small role as the scout who finds Dottie and Kit. He is hilarious and his few scenes are definitely some of the film’s highlights for me.

Best sports related film ever is not too high praise for this film. It is a sweet story with a whole lot of heart, based on real life events.

Rating: A-

3 thoughts on “A League of Their Own (1992)

  1. Pingback: The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) | From The Abyss to Zoolander

  2. Pingback: Moneyball (2011) | From The Abyss to Zoolander

  3. Pingback: Mr. 3000 (2004) | From The Abyss to Zoolander

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