Karey and I have been revisiting some of our favorite films over the last few weekends. There are some that are, unfortunately, not as good as we remembered. (Minus a few choice gags and performances, much of Young Frankenstein, in my opinion, now plays a bit stale…probably because it’s been nicked from so much). But, there are also the happy surprises of movies that are every bit as good as they were since the last time you watched them. Sometimes, they seem even better! The Man with Two Brains was even funnier than I recalled. I’m dying to use the quotes “Get that cat outta here!” and “Into the mud, scum queen!” but haven’t been given many opportunities to indulge myself yet. Another pick that made me well up with happiness is today’s great thing:
134. A League of Their Own
Penny Marshall. Where are you? How come you’ve not directed anything besides a smattering of television shows recently? You know what I miss? Rosie O’Donnell doing Penny Marshall impressions. Those were special times. Remember their Kmart commercials? Remember Kmart?
Anyway, when the motion picture came out in 1992 , I was 16…perfect timing as it coincided nicely with my budding girl-fancying. Beyond crushing on Geena Davis though, this pic appealed to me because it’s a pitch-perfect (yes, pun intended) example of a quality family comedy. Its ‘real-story’ roots and gentle feminist comedy stylings represented all that could be good and true about Hollywood to me in my teenage years. Maybe there’s a bit of a formula forced on it. (Turns out that the league, in real life, wasn’t unpopular initially…it was pretty much a hit from the get-go…but the script needed some extra obstacles in the way and it’s better for it). But, even on this–my seventh viewing–it never came across as nauseatingly hammy–only endearing in a familiar sort of way. Plus, baseball movies are ALLOWED to be a bit more sentimental.
Though Tom Hank’s mini-meltdown in front of the Peaches dugout is certainly one of the finest moments in the film, I have to admit, my new favorite quote may be a completely random moment made wonderfully ridiculous by Anne Ramsay’s over-the-top reading of it.
Anne Ramsay’s character Helen Hayley steps out into the hallway of the dormitory where all the other girls are trying to eavesdrop on a fight that Kit and Dottie are having. Helen is ready for a night on the town: Has anyone seen my new red hat?
Dottie (storming out of the fight with Kit): Piss on your red hat!
Both clips for your enjoyment here:
I like Anne Ramsay.
The idea for A League of Their Own, a gem of the ‘how come nobody had made this yet’ variety came on the heels of a documentary of the same name which was produced in 1986 by Kelly Candaele and Kim Wilson. Candaele is the offspring of AAGPBL player Helen Callaghan. His aunt, Marge Callaghan, was also a player. Speaking of which, RIP Dorothy Kamanshek (the character Dottie Hinson was based on) who died on May 17th this year.
Two things I want to crow about in regards to this film before I wrap up this blog:
1. The ensemble. What a fantastic roster of actors they got for this shindig. Tom Hanks in his prime, Geena Davis rarely better, Rosie and Mo perfect as nasal New Yawkers, the aforementioned Anne Ramsay just for that line reading alone, Megan Cavanagh as sweet bruiser Marla Hooch, David Straithairn– empathetic, and Jon Lovitz as the funniest man in the film.
I can’t imagine what the picture would have looked like had casting gone differently. Like Ghostbusters this is one of those movies that actually has a rather fascinating list of ‘coulda-beens’. For instance, both Molly Ringwald and Moira Kelly were considered for the role of Kit. Debra Winger, Ally Sheedy, Brooke Shields, and Kelly McGillis were all up for the role of Dottie at one time or another. KD Lang was supposed to be in the picture in SOME capacity. I would bet that she was up for the Rosie role…but backed out because she would have had to wear a skirt.
My only gripe is when it comes to Lori Petty. Now before you think I’m hating too hard, I’d like to say that I actually like Lori Petty. She was Tank Girl! She’s scrappy! She wears her hair short! But, I think she went a degree too far into the ‘annoying kid sister’ approach to this role. Yes, Kit needed to be threatened by the perfection of Dottie and resentful of the shadow she is subsequently cast in, but she was a mite bit too big of a whiney baby. The grating edge on her performance wound up being detrimental to her character as I wound up getting pissed off at Kit instead of feeling bad for her. On a positive note, Petty was apparently able to run faster than Davis in real life. That’s some good scrambling, little lady!
2. In my geekish info-gathering exercise for this blog post, I reviewed the original trailer for the movie. Boy, what a lousy misrepresentation that is! It totally sells this film as a “the trouble with girls” type of outing instead of the sweet herstory lesson that it actually is. Watch and seethe:
I call shenanigans! The Rockford Peaches weren’t ‘impossible to manage’. They had real talent and moxy. They had to drag the character of Jimmy Dugan up from the gutter he’d gotten himself into. The Dugan character is redeemed by the team. Not the other way around!
Grrrr….I hate it when they sell to the lowest common denominator.
Anyway, let’s close on a positive note. Here’s a nifty little presentation about the real girls of the AAGPBL: teachertube
Lastly, please enjoy this ACTUAL newsreel about it from back in the day. It’s even more ridiculous than the fake one they wrote for the movie: