Monday, October 7, 2013

A League of Their Own (20th Anniversary Edition) (1992)

A League of Their OwnThe 2-Disc DVD Special Edition of 1992's "A League Of Their Own" (released on April 20, 2004) scores a grand-slam on my DVD Scorecard. Sporting a fun array of bonus features, a beautiful anamorphically-enhanced widescreen picture, and very clever menu screens, this DVD version of this timeless motion picture is a winner all the way around.

Although the film has a relatively-lengthy run time of 2 hours & 8 minutes, it never wears out its welcome or gets tiresome. The first-rate cast sees to that -a cast that features the likes of Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell, Lori Petty, and Jon Lovitz.

Lovitz is fall-down hilarious as the scout who plucks Geena and Lori off of their Oregon farm to join the first professional girls' baseball league. He offers up one zinger after another during his short stint in this movie, such as his explanation to the other girls as to why he can't sign up second baseman Marla Hooch (who isn't likely to win the Miss America Pageant anytime soon) -"You know General Omar Bradley? Well, there's too strong a resemblance."

DVD Special Features for the 2-Disc "Special Edition" ..............

>> A very nice 52-minute documentary on the making of the film, "Nine Memorable Innings", featuring new interviews with the cast and crew, and some behind-the-scenes footage.

>> 15 Deleted Scenes. Many of these cut scenes flesh out some of the movie's shorter scenes. Some very interesting stuff here too. You can play each of these scenes separately, or via a "Play All" option. And these can be played with or without a "Director's Introduction" preceding each clip from Penny Marshall. Total run time: 36:02 with intros, or 32:39 without them.

>> Commentary Track, with Director Penny Marshall and some of the cast members.

>> 3 Trailers -Including the excellent and funny trailer for this movie, plus bonus trailers for two other sports films ("Brian's Song" and "The Natural").

>> Madonna Music Video -"This Used To Be My Playground" (run time: 5:02).

>> Cast & Crew Filmographies (text only).

>> A French Language Track (in 2.0 Dolby Surround).

>> English Subtitles.

VIDEO -The movie is presented on Disc #1 (which is dual-sided with no disc art), with Side A being the Widescreen (2.35:1 aspect ratio) version and Side B being a Full-Screen (1.33:1) Pan-and-Scan version. Now why anybody on the planet would prefer the Full-Screen (aka: "butchered all to hell") variant is beyond my comprehension. (Especially a super-wide 2.35:1 ratio film like this one, where, in the 1.33:1 version you're missing about 45% of the screen image at all times.) But, to each his own. IMO, however, the Widescreen is the ONLY way to go here (or with any other movie, for that matter).

The Widescreen transfer here looks A-1. Very clear, no "jaggies" in the background that I could see, with great color.

AUDIO -The box shows a "4.0 Surround" English audio track. But my Player reads the sound as "3.1 Dolby Digital". Kind of strange, I thought. But, regardless of the individual number of discrete channels here, it sounds great. The previous DVD version of this movie was done in 2.0 Dolby Surround; and this SE is at least up to par with that older disc, IMO.

MENUS -A really well-done "baseball-themed" Menu design here. The "Scene Selection" screens are designed so that each scene choice looks like a baseball card, complete with an "AAGPBL" ("All-American Girls Professional Baseball League") logo in the corner. Also shown on each of the Chapter screens is a simulated "baseball card" featuring one of the "players" (or manager) that appears in the movie.

The Main Menu for disc #2, which holds all the bonus material, is cleverly laid out to represent a page of a newspaper, with the menu choices integrated into the "headlines" of the paper. Very cool. As is the disc art for the second disc, which is made up to look like a baseball.

This flick beckons to be viewed a minimum of once per year. And perhaps even more frequently thanks to this fine two-disc SE that is now available. It's a movie that is just plain fun to sit through. And that's not likely to change, even many years down the road.

"A League Of Their Own" will remain in a class all its own for a long, long time to come.

Why is Geena Davis an Oscar-winner? Watch this flick; you won't need to ask that again. Her sensitive portrayal of Dottie Hinson highlights the many facets of Davis' talents as an actress. I loved watching a piece of history (however dramatized) which took place during my early childhood. Madonna and Rosie O'Donnell were surprisingly good as the loudmouth-but-secretly-caring-and-feeling Mae and Doris. You'll fall in love with Ann Cusack's "Shirley Baker", and poor, homely but super-star batter Marla Hooch is someone you just gotta root for. Tom Hanks gives us his usual fine performance as the arrogant, boozy and cynical (but in for some surprises) coach Jimmy Dugan. The chauvinistic/sexist way the female players were treated (professional baseball in a cocktail waitress costume!?) by management, the public and the press ("...after all, they're only girls.") will incense many viewers, but it's the way things actually were then. For the movie to be made any other way would be less than truth. The way that the real Dotties, Kits, Maes, Dorises and the others dealt with those attitudes surely contributed to social change and enlightenment about the abilities of the female half of our population. A compliment, also, to the casting people; where did they find the older look-alikes? Notably, Lynn Cartwright as "Older Dottie" and Eugenia McLin as "Older Ellen Sue". This movie is for everyone. Comedy with poignant drama. If you like teary endings, bring the Kleenex. The nostalgia scenes will start the flow. Great, great movie.

Buy A League of Their Own (20th Anniversary Edition) (1992) Now

A League of their Own was one of the best movies I've ever had the pleasure to see. I had seen it years ago and recently bought my own copy of it. This movie is one of the best that Penny Marshall has ever directed. The casting was superb. Madonna and Rosie O'Donnell were perfect as street-wise, but loveable May and Doris! Geena Davis did a wonderful job playing Dottie Henson, who had a genuine love for the game, yet had responsibilities and priorities that were more important to her. Lori Petty was great as Kit, Dottie's little sister who fought so hard to get out from under her sister's shadow. Marla Hooch, what a great character!! Evelyn and her little boy Stillwell "Angel" will keep you in smiling all the time you want to bean him with a baseball bat. Ellen Sue, Helen, Betty Spaghetti, I feel like I know them all!! And Tom Hanks plays one of his best roles ever, as Jimmy Duggan, an ex-ball player turned coach. Not too thrilled with the job of coaching "girls", he accepts the job and finally comes to respect them as a team and as baseball players. I think one of the best parts of the movies is when the ball players reunite after 40 years and the casting of the older woman to play the parts of the aging ball players is a masterpiece. It is remarkable how these older "look-alikes" were all brought into this movie. This is a movie worth watching, owning and recommending. Very few come along in a lifetime that provide so much good, positive entertainment, but this movie has it all. I recommend it highly!

Read Best Reviews of A League of Their Own (20th Anniversary Edition) (1992) Here

I was reading the comments about the DVD version of this movie, and noticed some comments from another viewer that I could not let go by without my two cents:

"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."

The original league did play a modified form of softball/baseball that changed over time. It was originally a modified fast pitch softball which was played with baseball rules, including leading off bases. The pitching distance and the base paths were, however, longer than regulation softball. It was originally called The All-American Girls Soft Ball League, then it was All-American Girls Base Ball League. Finally it became the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. I'm sure that they learned the official rules in spring training.

"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."

The girls did play in skirts. Their official uniform consisted of short flaired tunic, satin tights, knee-high baseball socks and cap. They did nurse strawberry bruises. They did wear their "Red Badge of Courage"... red lipstick. In the early years, they did attend charm school, received a makeup kit, and the league contracted Helena Rubenstein's Beauty Salon to meet with the girls during spring training.

"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."

Well, do you expect professional actors to become professional ballplayers overnight?

I suggest that anyone interested in this interesting era of women in sports visit the official AAGPBL website. I have paraphrased much information that I read on their site and hope that they do not object.

Okay... buy the movie, but learn the real story, too. The movie isn't EXACTLY the way it was.

Want A League of Their Own (20th Anniversary Edition) (1992) Discount?

The girls of the All American Girls Baseball League were an impressive bunch. The league, formed to fill the gap left by the canceling of the Major League season while the players were at war, was not the most popular idea at its inception. . . The story is good. Have no doubt, this movie is not a "guy" picture, but it is a great "date movie."

Gina Davis, Tom Hanks, and Lori Petty are all really amazing actors. Madonna and Rosie O'Donnell make great supporting cast members. Hey, it is a movie that Madonna didn't kill! The story is special and rather touching. There is good suspense in the movie. Generally, I am remarkably anti-suspense as I find it rather annoying. It is present in this film at times, but never long enough to become annoying. . .

I have never been a huge baseball fan. But I must admit; I love baseball movies. There is something special about baseball that makes the movies great. Don't get me wrong, bad baseball movies exist, but for someone who is not a fan of the game, I can get behind movies about the game. "A League of Their Own" is no exception to this logic. There was a purity to the game back then.


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