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Home » Culture and Criticism

The Poppy-Fields Movie Couch Of Fame: A League Of Their Own

Submitted by on March 6, 2017 – 8:55 AM22 Comments

Columbia Pictures


As the World Baseball Classic gears up, it seems like a great time to consider a baseball flick that transcends the sport (by which I mean “creates a transcendent hatred in me directed at bratty Kit and her stupid wig”). A League Of Their Own has THREE nominations on file from Megan, Trip, and Ron, so let’s hear what they have to say.

  • lengthy? “Not terribly: just over 2 hours, and running about 2.5 hours on TV with commercials (and with some edits).” – Megan.
  • familiar/frequent? “Is it ever not on cable somewhere?” – Trip.
  • classic/award-winner? “A couple of Golden Globe nominations, including Geena Davis for Best Actress, and several nominations for Madonna’s ‘This Used To Be My Playground.'” – Megan.
  • “Greetings, Professor Falken” (big payoff/long-shot victory a la WarGames)? “Yes, though not for the person you were expecting.” – Trip.
  • “Wanna have a catch?” (Pavlovian tear-jerk; anything with dads opens the ducts for this guy)? “I usually tear up at the reunion at the Baseball Hall of Fame, even though I really, really don’t want to. Hearing the actresses’ voices coming out of the older actresses tries its best to take me out of the story, and the entire conceit that Dottie was the greatest who ever lived but played only one season bugs meā€¦and yet, they get me at the end every time. How do they do that?” – Megan. Your editor would also add the “the hard is what makes it great” exchange between Jimmy and Dottie.
  • quote-fest? “How about ‘There’s no crying in baseball’?” – Ron. Probably one of the most over-quoted lines in film history, but Hanks’s outraged delivery really sells it IMO. Trip and Megan also cited “Avoid the clap — Jimmy Dugan” (that IS good advice!); “Evelyn, after Stillwell has caused the bus driver to quit: ‘He’ss really a sweetheart, Dottie.’ ‘Yeah, I hope I have ten just like him'”; and “Who ain’t seen your bosoms?”
  • caper-ish or -adjacent camaraderie? Respondents kind of split on this, with Trip asserting that the only “intrigue” is whether Dottie may have dropped the ball on purpose, but Ron and Megan pointing to sports-movie team bonding against a war backdrop.
  • “forget you, melon farmer” (you own it, but will still watch bowdlerized TV verzh) “I just get sucked in every single time, dammit.” – Trip. Megan agreed while noting that cable airings often cut the dance-hall scene with Madonna’s “fun dancing,” probably for time.

I usually bail out of this one before the climactic game, because I just really can’t with the ending, although there’s an argument to be made that the fact that it still annoys the crap out of me all these years later means it’s art, or something. I just think it’s horseshit, and Lori Petty’s customary resting-bratface performance serves the material, but that’s not reeeeeally a compliment. That said, it’s a lot of fun, and despite being 1) forever associated with That Line and 2) the de facto Mayor Of Hollywood, I don’t think Hanks gets nearly enough credit for his performance here, both as a resentful wastrel in the beginning and, later, a game-recognizing-game manager of talented players.

And I don’t hate Strathairn in period garb, either. Readers?

Should A League Of Their Own slide into the Poppy-Fields Movie Couch of Fame?

  • Safe at home! (yes) (99%, 242 Votes)
  • Out by a mile! (no) (1%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 244

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[Update: For Opening Day 2017, we’re opening the Couch for this one; it’s in there, no review necessary.]

The Poppy-Fields Movie Couch Of Fame is here. To nominate your own PFM, email bunting at tomatonation dot com with a rundown of the criteria and your argument for why it deserves a cushion. If I use your entry, free loot shall be thine.




  • attica says:

    Even though the soundtrack CD I own omits the Madonna song (?), it’s a favorite of mine. Garfunkel with “Two Sleepy People!”? Taylor’s cover of “I Didn’t Know What Time it Was”? Swell. The orchestration under the championship montage is as good as anything, ever. Whenever it comes up on shuffle, it’s impossible not to air drum the shit out of it (with the requisite horn-miming interstitials).

  • bluesabriel says:

    Oh, wow, I can’t believe this one hadn’t come up until now!

    Yeah, I think it just barely meets criteria in some of the categories, but it still feels like a solid choice. My knee-jerk reaction before reading the nomination details was “Oh, HECK yes!” Sometimes you just have to go with your gut. Also, I unabashedly adore Geena Davis in this movie.

  • Matthew E says:

    I think it’s one of the best baseball movies. My son didn’t like the ending, because Geena Davis’s team didn’t win; I tried to tell him that that’s not what the movie was about (it’s about the league itself succeeding, and about a few of the characters figuring out how to negotiate their lives) but he didn’t buy it.

    Other nice touches:
    – the Black woman throwing the ball back. Nobody was forcing them to include that scene, but they included it
    – Rosie O’Donnell’s speech about how, if they were all doing this together, it must mean that they were all right. I suspect that this is characteristic of the generation they were portraying
    – our eventual realization that, at some point, Geena Davis has, in Tom Hanks’s mind, metamorphosed from “girl ballplayer” to “ballplayer”
    – Jon Lovitz

  • Missicat says:

    Big tearjerker scene – the locker room scene with the jerk telegram guy. Watching the faces of all the women when Hanks walks by them only to have to tell Betty her husband was killed. Gets me every time.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @Missi, Hanks is also great in *that* scene, but I’m always taken out of it a bit by the Betty actor’s crying choices.

  • Boosnickle says:

    Two enthusiastic thumbs up from me. I’m currently house hunting and I call the houses that have listings which only show pictures from a distance ‘Marla Hooch’ houses. And, if I ever find a house and am able to get a dog, I’m naming her Marla Pooch.

  • Linda says:

    I also tear up every time Bill Pullman comes home from the war. “Oh sweetie!” (sob)

  • cayenne says:

    +1 here. I will watch this any time it’s on, no skin off my Ashtabula.

    And cosign on the dislike for the ending… hell, throw out the whole “waaahhh, Dottie doesn’t wanna go to Cooperstown” intro, too. I don’t feel the Kit-and-Dottie-don’t-get-along intro/extro framing added anything to the movie, since the best part was pretty much anything that didn’t involve Kit.

    And also: if the HOF is so magic that it can heal the 60-year-old butthurt of a younger sister, there should be a movie about that all on its own.

  • Mark Blankenship says:

    As for dad-child moments, let’s not forget everything between Marla Hooch and her father. They love each other SO MUCH, and when Mr. Hooch is defending her greatness to Jon Lovitz, I tear up. I ALSO tear up when Marla cries and hugs her dad before she leaves for the scouting trip.

  • Megan in Seattle says:

    When someone on a conference call at work gets emotional, you can hear me yelling, “there’s no crying in baseball!” And then confirming I was on mute when I did that.

  • Alison says:

    Nice timing! Betty Carveth Dunn (the inspiration for the Dottie character), now age 91, is being inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame this year. After her one-year pro career, she was the first female Little League coach in Edmonton. She really did just play the one season, then came home, married Jim and started a family. And this is definitely one I can’t turn off if I happen to come across it, though I don’t own it and probably wouldn’t seek it out these days.

  • Tina S. says:

    I agree with everything Mark said re: Marla Hooch, she’s my favorite! I also get a lot of mileage out of “Evelyn, I’m going to have to kill your son!” because I have a co-worked to like to bring her “exuberant” son to work when he is out of school…

  • Jenn says:

    I’m secretly a big sap, so I always get a little choked up when Shirley’s trying to read the rosters after tryouts, and Helen comes up and finds her name for her, and everyone claps because she made the team.

    Also, when things get tense on a TV show and someone new enters the room, I like to say, “Has anyone seen my new red hat?”

  • Pat says:

    I was shocked this wasn’t ALREADY in! And a big ditto on the telegram scene.

  • Missicat says:

    Also: Old Dottie meeting adult Stillwell at the Hall of Fame. Stillwell saying he felt he had to be there because his mom always said it was the best time she ever had. *sniff*
    @Sars – agree, Betty’s wailing was a sour note.
    Heartwarming moment – Dottie and Kit immediately sitting down when they realize Marla was being rejected due to her looks (or lack thereof). Especially for Kit, who wanted to play so badly but refused to compromise due to the unfairness of the situation. A small scene, but a good one.

  • pomme de terre says:

    I would argue that the whole visit to the road house is a textbook cinema caper (poisoning the chaperone, Dottie showing up late with the wee kid who wants to get laid, Marla’s vocal and romantic tour de force, etc).

    As I have noted in other Poppy Fields entries, a good supporting cast is key and this movie has a great one. You never get bored when the action switches from one character or plotline to another.

    Agree w Mark that Marla and Pa Hooch are the best. I also weep uncontrollably when Stiwell Angel shows up as a grown man, coming to pay respects to his awesome mom.

  • Louisa says:

    Yes! Finally! I submitted this one like three years ago! I may be a little over! excited! here!

  • Jaime says:

    I am so on board with this one! I have been known to say to those who are taking too long to get going that “the way it works is, the train moves, not the station.”

  • S says:

    So, did Dottie drop the ball on purpose or did Kit win legitimately? When I first watched it I aw sure Dottie dropped the ball but I think it’s a better ending if she doesn’t, and it IS ambiguous enough to not be sure. Kit can’t hit high fastballs the whole movie and then suddenly she does. That’s enough to make it possible.

    I also think this is the last movie Tom Hanks did when he was still a actor and not a STAR! His performance isn’t as tic-y and mannered. He doesn’t show signs of Nicole Lidman posing disease that he does in his later movies.

  • Liz R says:

    So many small but memorable moments that are almost a throwaway–easy to miss, but so great when you catch them. Plus, the inclusion of so many of the cast of Laverne & Shirley? Carmine Ragusa dancing with Madonna? Despite the fact that I cannot abide Lori Petty, solid yes for me.

  • Ann_Margrock says:

    YES! Surprised it wasn’t already in the HOF.
    Everything everyone has said, plus:

    -Cosign Liz R: loved that so many Laverne & Shirley cast members were in the movie. I especially loved that David L. Lander was able to contribute in a sit-down role -I didn’t know at the time that he had been diagnosed with MS a few years before the movie.

    -When Hubsy asks me a sarcastic question, I answer:
    “What do you say I smack you around for a while?”
    He always replies, “Can’t we do both?”

    -The Charm School lessons – Rosie sneaking food while the instructor is walking away. That would definitely be me.

  • Sharon says:

    About a year ago, I had my hard of hearing Mom at my place. I set her up watching this movie with headphones while I took care of stuff around the house. Eventually, I sat down with and watched sans audio. Did not matter. I knew everything going on. I still cried when Bill Pullman’s character showed up. So I am a definite “yes!” Also, was the chemistry between Geena Davis & Tom Hanks capitalized elsewhere? In my opinion, it’s not too late.

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