35. A League of Their Own

Movie: A League of Their Own

Release Date: July 1, 1992

Director: Penny Marshall

Starring: Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Lori Petty, Jon Lovitz, David Straithairn, Gary Marshall, Bill Pullman.

Tag Lines: “To achieve the incredible you have to attempt the impossible.”

“There’s no crying in baseball!”

“This summer, Tom Hanks and the Rockford Peaches prove that a woman’s place is at home…first, second & third.”

“Once in a lifetime you get a chance to do something different.”

“A woman’s place is on home, first, second, and third.”

Relevance: At the age of twenty-one, I spent the summer of 1992 away from home, family and friends so that I could stay in my college town. My girlfriend at the time was taking some summer classes so that she could graduate on time that following Spring. I didn’t need to as I was already on schedule to graduate (with honors), but I took a few classes just to make my last two semesters at college a little more relaxed. It worked. Not only were those semesters less stress, but I also got to spend most of the summer away from my parents, hanging with friends and doing as I please. At twenty-one, it was my first real glimpse of adulthood.

As mentioned many times on this blog, I went to college in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. It was a very small town with only one stop light and very little entertaining elements. If it weren’t for the college, it would be an unknown, forgettable place to dwell. I lived there for four years without a car, which made things quite challenging anytime I wanted to do anything resembling fun. The closest mall was forty-five minutes away and I only got there once in awhile when a friend with wheels was generous enough to let me tag along. That mall was small and quite depressing as well but it had a music store as well as a cinema, so it was all I really needed. Little did I know that I would spent almost five years working at that music store in that exact mall (life is full of ironic circles), but that is a story for another time on another blog.

I have also written many times here about my love for Madonna. For those that have not followed along on this blog let me just sum it up with one sentence: Some people believe in God, I believe in Madonna. In June of that year, she had released a new song, “This Used to Be My Playground” for the new film, ‘A League of Their Own,’ of which she also starred in with Tom Hanks and Geena Davis. The song was a melancholy ballad and somewhat a departure from most of her big singles. However, the song eventually became a huge hit that summer peaking at number one on the United States’ Billboard charts. It was Madonna’s tenth number one song breaking a tie with Whitney Houston as the female artist with the most number one singles at that time. The video was to premiere on MTV on June 29th but was pushed back a day due to the large earthquake that struck California on the 28th. Like I was with all things when it came to her, I was in Madonna frenzy.

I lived in an off campus apartment at that time with two other students. I didn’t have a car, but one of them did, so I was able to convince them to let me use it once in awhile or tag along for a ride when they were getting out of that small town. Thanks to them I was able to buy the cassette single of Madonna’s song on one of our trips to the mall. I listened and re-listened to the song over and over again on my Walkman and by the end of forty-eight hours knew it like the back of my hand. Now that the song was forever in my brain, it was time to focus on the movie.

It’s no surprise that ‘A League of Their Own’ is on my list of most influential movies of all time. This is Madonna’s fifth film of eight that will be appearing (see 215. Four Rooms, 177. Body of Evidence, 98. Dick Tracy and 94. Desperately Seeking Susan for the other four). However, the movie also starred Tom Hanks. He is by far my favorite actor with the most films of any other actor to appear on this list. You can check out the others here: 314. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, 275. Apollo 13, 256. The Green Mile, 234. Saving Private Ryan, 224. Joe Versus the Volcano, 186. Toy Story, 167. Splash, 160. Bachelor Party, 145. Big, 101. The Money Pit, 63. Sleepless in Seattle and 43. Toy Story 2. His fourteenth and final film will be popping up in less than a week.

‘A League of Their Own’ opened in theaters on July 1st of 1992. It received favorable reviews and went on to become a commercial success as well as a film recognized by the National Film Registry in 2012 as a “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant film.” I went to see it in theaters in a packed movie house in that same mall I traveled to every once in awhile. I went with my then girlfriend, both of us excited to see the film. That excitement was not contained after the movie ended. We both loved it. It was such an entertaining, funny and often sentimental and heartwarming story that really thrilled us as well as the entire audience. Of course we stayed right through the credits as Madonna’s song played over them. I never walk out on Madonna.

The film was obviously a favorite of mine, but it also became a favorite of my family and friends as well. My mom loved the movie when she finally saw it on VHS via rental sometime later that year. I watched it with her and she loved the humor and the story, making comments about how it reminded her of my sister when she used to play softball in school. It soon became a part of her movie collection and is a film that she often talked about fondly. Throughout the years, the movie has become a talking point with a lot of my friends and co-workers as well. There is often a random quote thrown into a conversation from the film that makes everyone involved smile from ear to ear. A running joke between friends is anytime we see someone a tad less attractive human, one of us (usually me) will say, “Marla Hooch. What a hitter.”

‘A League of Their Own’ is a movie that I now own on DVD (no surprise there) and one that I watch quite often. It airs a lot on television as well and every time I see it, I can’t help but stop and watch it no matter what scene is playing. The film is also one of those rare movies that both my son and me agree upon. It entertains him just as much as his father. Shocking! He is even in on the “Marla Hooch” joke. That alone is enough to include the film in my top thirty-five of all time.

Today’s Thoughts: “Has anyone ever told you that you look like a penis with that little hat on?”

‘A League of Their Own’ is billed as a comedy, but man oh man, it always makes me cry. No matter how many times I see the movie I end up reaching for the Kleenex box. I watched the film alone today while the two men in my life went off to work. They both work retail and I’m not jealous of them at all. I’m kind of glad I’m not out there this year on Black Friday with COVID-19 looming in the air. My husband always brings something (big or small) home with him from work, I just really hope its not coronavirus today.

I watched ‘A League of Their Own’ from the comfort of my warm bed with coffee and tissues next to me. I just adore this movie. It still makes me smile, despite the fact that I have seen it hundreds of times and could recite a majority of it word for word. It is beautifully directed by the late great Penny Marshall and the cast is absolutely delightful. Madonna is wonderful, Geena Davis is stunning and the rest of the ensemble is colorful, funny and terrific. However, Mr. Hanks is perfection. This is by far my favorite performance of his. He simply has never been better and I could watch him in this role over and over again. And I do.

‘A League of Their Own’ is sure to become a classic if it is not considered so already. It is a wonderful comedy/drama that did indeed make me cry again today. I have never met anyone who has seen this movie that did not enjoy it at least a little bit. If there are people out there that do not like it, I don’t need to know them. This film is more than just recommended, it is required.

Awards: Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Geena Davis (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Original Song – Motion Picture, “This Used to Be My Playground,” Madonna, Shep Pettibone (nomination), National Film Registry (2012).

Ways to Watch: Vudu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, DVD Availability.

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