Am I the last American female who had not seen A League of Their Own (1992)? Somehow I missed it when it was in theaters — maybe I thought “baseball, bleh” even though it stars a ton of actors I enjoy, like Geena Davis, Rosie O’Donnell, Tom Hanks, Lori Petty, even Madonna. And locally, friends have recreated the Rockford Peaches uniforms and the Greater Bay Area Costumers’ Guild held a League of Their Own picnic. Well, I finally caught up with the movie on cable, and yes, it is adorable and just the girl-power boost I needed.
This is a rare story about women that doesn’t revolve around women wanting to get married or women having sex with other women’s men partners. Instead, it’s about women’s skills, ambitions, and place in the world, and women’s relationships with other women. As Geena Davis said in an interview with ESPN about this film:
“I have always sought characters that got to do interesting things, from a selfish point of view as an actor. I didn’t want to just be the girlfriend of the person who is having all the interesting things happen. And this is the ultimate example of that. I bring it up when I give speeches because I say, “I would rather play the baseball player than the girlfriend of the baseball player.” And I’m lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to do that.”
The central relationship is between the two sisters, Dottie (Geena Davis) and Kit (Lori Petty), but other women have strong subplots. Throughout the film, relevant, if subtle, points made about the gender wage gap, childcare burdens, and other women’s rights issues. It’s by no means a preachy movie, but simply by pointing out how much women can do when we are allowed, the message comes through. Plus, the dialog is funny, the plot is snappy, and all the actors are enjoyable to watch.
The main male character, team manager Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks), is by turns ridiculous and incompetent, although later sympathetic. But he’s not anyone’s love interest. The only real romantic storyline is for the least-likely woman or is about relationships referred to off-screen.
Costume-wise, it’s all about that uniform, sure. Though I have to say, I most enjoyed a look at all the individual team uniforms the girls wore to try-outs where they wore more practical knickers. Those uniforms also showed the different color combos and logos from each person’s hometown to reinforce the idea that everyone was coming from around America. Nice touch. While the characters in the movie are fictional, but designer Cynthia Flynt recreated the exact uniforms for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League to give an air of authenticity.
All the actresses were cast, not just for acting skill, but for baseball ability. They had to be able to throw and hit the ball, and they all did their own running and sliding. Even some of the injuries were real, as Anne Ramsay who played Helen Haley, told ESPN:
“I broke my nose during practice leading up to filming. It was the first day that we switched from modern-day mitts to authentic, vintage mitts from the ’40s. The mitts were restored a little bit, but they were the original deals. We were in Chicago, the coach throws me the ball … and maybe the fourth time he threw it, it just slips and hits me. It breaks my nose.”
It wasn’t all uniforms and rough going though. The ‘civilian’ clothes beautifully fill out the background, and the costume designer used quite a bit of vintage garments to add authenticity.
OK, since everyone else saw this movie already, chide me for having just caught up!