Sports Movies ‘A League of Their Own’ Adapted for Better

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The Big Picture

  • A League of Its Own is an original film that showcases friendship and female empowerment, breaking away from traditional tropes.
  • The film highlights the importance of sisters and women supporting each other, ending with a heartwarming and inspiring story.
  • By celebrating the contribution of women to sporting history and avoiding stereotypes, A League of Its Own remains an important milestone in film.

Today, it is not uncommon to see a film based on a true female friendship; with the success of films like Sister of Traveling Parents, Bridesmaidsand Girls trip, women both in front of and behind the camera have deserved (long term) opportunities to tell stories exploring complex and positive relationships that women have with each other. However, more than thirty years ago, there weren’t many films that had predominantly female leads, which is why 1992’s A League of Its Own such a bright place in film history. Not only does it allow an ensemble of mostly female characters to shine, but it actively shows women standing up for each other, without being threatened by the presence of each other, and avoids long and tired tropes to give a funny and warm look at one of American history’s more interesting bon mots, the creation of the All-American Girls Professional Soccer League.

Photo via Columbia Pictures

A League of Its Own

Two sisters join the first professional women’s soccer league and struggle to help it succeed amid their own growing competition.

Release date
July 1, 1992

Penny Marshall

Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Lori Petty, Jon Lovitz, David Strathairn


Running time

Main Character

Kim Wilson, Kelly Candaele, Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel

To achieve the amazing you must attempt the impossible.

What is ‘Líog D’Féin’ about?

Coming from the success of the 1990s wake upwhich received three Academy Award nominations and grossed over $100 million at the box office, Penny Marshall she was at the height of her directing powers when she went into production. Assembling an all-star cast including Geena Davis (Dottie Hinson), Tom Hanks (Jimmy Dugan), and Madonna (Mae Mordabito), Marshall tried to tell a largely fictional version of the founding of the league in the 1940s, when men were drafted to serve in World War II and women were left to play ball. The story follows Dottie Davis and her child sister Kit Hinson (Lori Petty) because they are hired to try out for the league. Eventually, they are drafted to play for the Rockford Peaches along with fourteen other women, managed by former alcoholic basketball star Hanks. We follow the team and their members through the season as they qualify for the playoffs and eventually, the World Series, losing in a heartbreaker to the major leaguers. – the Racine Belles competed in Game 7 after Kit, who had previously been traded to Racine, scored the winning run by hitting a home run. Dottie over the plate.

Davis and Petty are great siblings: Davis the smooth-headed, older, married Dottie, and Petty the spitfire young Kit who just wants a way away from the dairy farm and out of Oregon. It is established from the outset that there is a natural competitive spirit between the two, but it only serves to bring out the best in each other. In fact, it’s because of her love for Kit that Dottie even agrees to be hired in the first place.

We get our first taste of just what this group of women has behind each other when we meet Marla Hooch (Megan Cavanaugh), a power hitter who her father says would have played for the New York Yankees if she had been born a boy. Marla has an innate talent for baseball, but is no natural beauty, and chauvinist recruiter Ernie (played with comic delight by John Lovitz) wants to leave her behind. When he tells the sisters it’s time to leave, they drop their bags and refuse to move. They know how special Marla is and what she can bring to the league. Most importantly, her talent is not at risk, they want her to be successful and have a chance to prove herself. Where a lesser filmmaker might go into all the jealousy, Marshall still focuses on friendship, a successful choice she makes again and again throughout the film.

Sisterhood runs deeper than just Dottie and Kit in ‘A League of Their Own’

In Chicago when we try out, the roster starts to fill up, and that’s where we first meet Doris Murphy (Rosie O’Donnell) and Madonna’s Mae. The natural chemistry between the two is evident from the jump – they play off each other brilliantly, almost in an Abbott and Costello fashion, except neither is playing a straight man here. How delightful they are bada-bing back and forth, you feel the love and respect each character and actress has for each other. Madonna was never better than she is here; the film is big enough and the ensemble talented enough to maintain its larger-than-life star presence and keep critics too big to tear it to shreds nearby. It is also during exams that we meet Ann Cusackand Shirley Baker, an illiterate woman who can’t read the final tables to find out if she made the cut. Instead of dismissing or avoiding it, Ann Ramseyand Helen Haley comes to her rescue, helping to find out that she was drafted to the Peaches. Soon after, we see Mae teaching Shirley to read – questionable stuff, to be sure, but in Mae’s own words, “She ‘reads’, doesn’t she?” There is no “other-ing” with any of the characters, or any sort of classical structure put in place; they have one mission, to win games, and they understand that the only way to do that is to come together.

It is this instinct and bond of sisterhood that serves them well after starting Dugan. After he drunkenly collapses into the locker room to relieve himself before returning with a narry word, the Peaches know they have to step up and manage themselves. This is perhaps the most fundamental and strongest message of the film – women undoubtedly succeed and are at their best when they take their own agency. We see it moments later when pitcher Ellen Sue (Freddie Simpson) nailing a heckler with a fastball; when Betty “Spaghetti” Horn (Tracy Reiner) and Kit encourages Doris to move on from her abusive, good-for-nothing boyfriend back in New York; when Marla marries the man she fell for during a night out and leaves for the season. There’s no bitterness or backlash among the crew, just unquestioning support—never more heartfelt than when Betty Reiner learns that her husband George has been killed in action.

What happens at the end of ‘A League of Their Own’?

During the film’s climactic final game, the atmosphere is tense, but the team’s spirit is at its highest. From small moments like Bitty Schramand Evelyn (she at the other end of the Hanks image, “There’s no crying in baseball”) glad she finally made the right tying throw, to bigger hits like Kit’s heroic home run, we on the edge of our seats until the final call, which even then leaves us with the eternal question: Does Dottie really let the ball out after Kit enters her towards? Marshall never gave a definitive answer, and the team is also divided. Regardless, we see the sisters reconcile before we look forward to older versions of most of the team members seeing their induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

After the Peaches through most of the movie, of course, we want them to be the winners. However, the fact that the league succeeded at all is the most important thing. Actually, the AAGPBL would last from 1943 to 1954 and would be the blueprint for future professional women’s sports leagues like the WNBA. The film’s popularity led to Prime Video commissioning a television adaptation to launch in 2022, featuring Abbi Jacobsen as co-creator and star. While we won’t be getting a second season for this show anytime soon, one thing the Prime Video show did give us was that the film lacked storylines that represented women of color – Chante Adams, Roberta Colindrezand Gbernisola Ikumelo each playing main characters.

Paying homage to this important moment in the history of women and sports, avoiding stereotypical portrayals of female relationships, and making sisters the heart of the story, A League of Its Own is an important milestone in film history. Marshall proved that female-directed and star-studded studio films could make bank, although disappointing numbers of female leads and ensembles subsequently received similar opportunities. However, its overall legacy is one of the tentpole films in female-led storytelling during the evolving landscape of ’90s cinema. Hit up, actually hear that call.

A League of Its Own available to rent on Amazon Prime Video in the US

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