A League Of Their Own

With each passing year, we seem to be witnessing the further shrinkage of the gender gap, and so movies like A League of Their Own are ever-more fascinating. It shares with modern movie audiences the little-known true tale of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, created to help keep the national pastime alive while the menfolk were off fighting World War II. The idea was met with much resistance at the time, and so the girls face challenges off the field as well as on.

It’s 1943, and ladies’ baseball is forming teams and a championship series and everything, but within this grander competition is a very personal one, between sisters Dottie (Geena Davis) and Kit (Lori Petty). Their sibling rivalry remains a constant across a season fraught with injuries, heartbreak, and other setbacks, but also new friendships. Director Penny Marshall veers from comedy to drama in roughly equal measure, laced with a still-relevant wake-up call about women’s rights. She gambles that we will care enough about the characters by the hefty third act that we won’t notice that the jokes drop to a trickle and the movie becomes all about the baseball, a risk that mostly pays off, even if it all does drag on a bit too long.

The 2.4:1 League displays a pleasing level of detail in almost every shot, evident in the blades of grass, both on the diamond and across rural America. The clarity of the vintage advertisements, the clothing, and even the carpets is surprising. Out-of-focus backgrounds have a natural, organic look to them, while blacks are deep and rich. Film grain is occasionally noticeable, while flaws and artifacts are minimal.

This was, however, one of those movies in which I had to check that my surrounds were even working, the back half of my home theater was so quiet. Turns out the surrounds in this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track are utilized primarily for Hans Zimmer’s musical score, which has been mixed to envelop the listener, in addition to some cheering, some P.A. chatter, but overall this movie is sonically tame.

The bonus material is quite good, but all ported from the 2004 Special Edition DVD, including over half an hour of deleted scenes culled from the notorious four-hour rough cut, with more of Jon Lovitz as the endearingly crass talent scout, plus some lost subplots. Marshall and some of her actresses reunite for the audio commentary and for the nine-part (in deference to baseball innings) retrospective documentary with many of the key players.

Studio: Sony, 1992
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Length: 128 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Penny Marshall
Starring: Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Lori Petty