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Film Title

A League of Their Own

Director

Penny Marshall

Starring

  • Geena Davis as Dottie Hinson
  • Tom Hanks as Jimmy Dugan
  • Lori Petty as Kit Keller
  • Madonna as Mae Mordabito
  • Rosie O’Donnell as Doris Murphy
  • Jon Lovitz as Ernie Capadino

Inspired by the relatively unknown All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, A League of Their Own tells a funny and often moving fictionalised story of the creation of the league during the Second World War and the women of one particular team .

A League of Their Own PosterAs World War II rages on overseas, there is a threat to the Baseball League which may have to close. Candy magnate and Chicago Cubs owner Walter Harvey has the idea to create a baseball league for women in the hopes of attracting money. Dottie Hinson is an attractive girl talented at baseball from Oregon who is spotted by scout Ernie Capadino. Dottie’s sister Kit also plays, but feels like the lesser sibling because she isn’t as talented. Dottie agrees to go only if Kit comes, which she eventually does. Soon the sisters are trying out for a team and are eventually accepted into the Rockford Peaches. Also occupying the team is Mae Mordabito, a former taxi dancer and her loud friend Doris Murphy, as well as many other talented girls. The person appointed coach is Jimmy Dugan, a once great player himself who has since become an embittered alcoholic. At first the Peaches struggle for success, but little by little, they begin to rise up in the ranks because of their team spirit and attitude. They manage to overcome the idea that women can’t play baseball by showing of their skill. The success of Dottie as the leader of the team begins to take its toll on Kit, who feels pushed back in favour of her sister. The girls must also deal with the knowledge of their spouses fighting in the war and if they receive a dreaded telegram informing of death. Funny, charming and surprisingly moving, A League of Their Own depicts with respectful historical detail the long neglected beginnings of the Women’s Baseball League.

Penny Marshall’s crafts this entertaining story with down to earth characters and a sense of nostalgia for the era. She also manages to infuse an emotional streak to the story, best embodied by the wedge driven between Dottie and Kit as the cracks begin to form in their close bond. The baseball scenes are entertaining and thrilling to watch as they are crafted with such authentic detail and loving care. The various cutting between matches and spinning headlines make for nostalgic and surprising viewing as the film progresses. The musical score adds to the sense of camaraderie that builds within the Peaches as they edge closer to the world title. Costume design and make-up should be rightfully praised for its authenticity to the War era styles. The script for the most part creates both humour and pathos in depicted the journey of the women. Only in the last two-thirds does sentimentality creep in but for the main duration the overriding nostalgia keeps this a moving and funny movie. The ending of the movie is a really moving one that is well executed.

Heading the ladies of the cast is Geena Davis. She is on fine form as the beautiful and strong Dottie who takes on the role of leader. Yet Tom Hanks steals the show with his hysterical performance as Jimmy, the washed up star managing the Peaches. He gets all the best lines including the now famous “There’s no crying in baseball” which really adds to the humour. As soon as he enters the picture, Tom Hanks commands attention with his excellent comic timing. Lori Petty movingly portrays the wounded Kit, who feels inadequate next to her talented older sister. Out of the other girls of the team, Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell stand out. They make a comic double act that is really engaging. Madonna isn’t known to be the best actress, but she plays the role of the team flirt Mae with charm and humour to burn. She also contributes the moving ballad “This Used to be my Playground” which can be heard near the end of the movie. Rosie O’Donnell as her best friend Doris greatly adds to the humour that both bring. In a small but memorable role, Jon Lovitz is crusty and wise cracking as Ernie, the baseball scout.

It may lapse into sentimentality from time to time, but despite this Penny Marshall directs this heartfelt story of some groundbreaking women.

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