Period Film: A League of Their Own (1992)

(Image: thegloss.com)

(Image: thegloss.com)

World War II is in full swing, and since so many men have gone off to fight, the owners of professional baseball teams are scrambling to find a way to save their teams from dormancy. They decide to form teams with women, just as many other industries filled positions typically reserved for men with female workers during the war.

Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) and her sister Kit (Lori Petty) are farm girls who like to play baseball in their spare time. When one of the scouts passes through their Oregon town and realizes what a phenomenal player Dottie is, he decides to scout her, but she’d rather stay in Oregon and be a good wife.

Kit, however, is incredibly enthusiastic about joining the team. The scout agrees to let her on if she can convince Dottie to join with her.

Dottie finally agrees after much prodding from Kit, and after trying out they end up on the same team, managed by former player Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks).

The league struggles to gain a following and rivalries ensue, both between different teams and within the team.

A League of Their Own (dir. Penny Marshall) begins in the 1990s with Dottie’s daughter trying to convince her mother to go to the reunion of her old baseball team. The viewer is then launched into a flashback detailing the under-appreciated and historically significant tale of how the first female professional baseball league was created in the 1940s.

(Image: film.com)

(Image: film.com)

We all know I’m not huge on sports (with the exception of hockey), but I am huge on history. This film ties baseball together with gender equality struggles in the mid-20th century, as well as the complications of life in general, which makes it very enjoyable, even for those of us who aren’t baseball fanatics. The story is extremely engrossing as the women deal with rivalries, criticism of their team and personal problems. Many of the characters are likable and easy to root for, which draws the viewer in even more.

A League of Their Own boasts a really wonderful cast, and all give top-notch performances.

Visually, the film is quite nice as well. The use of a subtle, slightly desaturated color palette evokes nostalgic feeling from the viewer. Even better is the integration of black and white “newsreel” style footage, as well as radio program narration that portrays the “women belong in the kitchen, not the field” standpoint held by some at the time. There are plenty of nods to the type of coverage that the female teams would have actually received in the 1940s, both positive and negative.

The costumes generally seem to suit the period, including the hair styles and makeup. The characters don’t look quite as polished as the super-put-together aesthetic that people tend to associate with the 1940s, but they are baseball players, after all.

A League of Their Own is a very good film – part drama, part comedy, part sports flick, part historical/biographical film – that successfully captures the period in which it was set.

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5 thoughts on “Period Film: A League of Their Own (1992)

  1. I was so relieved to see this movie stay true to the hair and clothing styles of the period. (I hate it when movies are supposed to take place in the 1940s, for instance, but the hair and clothing are from the 1960s. Drives me crazy!)

    I saw this movie for the first time a couple of years ago, and really enjoyed it – even Madonna’s performance.

    Also, the Tom Hanks line is a classic: “There’s no crying in baseball.”

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    • I hate that, too! I notice it more in classic biopics that use styling/costuming of their own time rather than the period (like I’ll Cry Tomorrow, which is supposed to be set in the ’20s/’30s but looks as ’50s as it could possibly look) but it’s offensive no matter when the film is made, haha. I was really glad that this one stuck to the period.

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  2. I saw this in the theater when released and many times since then. As you said, it has the perfect combination of comedy, drama, history, and social commentary. Although the backdrop is sports, I believe the story is more about the human condition as it addresses such things as family dynamics, determination, and many other attributes that are better left unmentioned in case some readers haven’t discovered the film yet. But as far as I’m concerned, those qualites are the reason why the film remains so popular.

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