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"There's no crying in baseball!"
on 11 April 2011
After America's (eventual) entry into the Second World War, Baseball was put on effective hiatus as it awaited the return of men from military duty. Chewing Gum millionaire saw a gap in the market and pioneered a Ladies baseball league. This film isn't a historical account of events, instead it uses it as inspiration for a fictional tale which manages to capture the spirit of the venture.
The film primarily focuses on sisters Dottie and Kit, and also former baseball star Jimmy Dugan whose dependency on alcohol cut short a promising career. The personal stories of the individual characters ensures that this isn't just a film about baseball, baseball is simply the common factor which brings a bunch of girls together and encourages them to chase their ambitions. With Kit feeling overshadowed by her sister's talents, Jimmy in with a chance of experiencing some of the glory he missed out on previously, and plenty of stars-and-stripe waving this could very easily have been a soppy cheesefest. However the regular humour and Tom Hanks' portrayal of Jimmy grounds the film in reality and threads everything together in a way which feels balanced and accessible, even if you care little for Baseball or the American Dream.
This is a feel-good film but it doesn't ignore the issues of the day, wives live in dread of receiving a telegram from the forces, and when one such moment does occur it's an emotional scene which unites the team and shows how strong they've become as a group. They also find that their Girls League isn't viewed as serious sport my many, including their coach at first, but through gutsy performances on the field they manage to fight against sexist views and a system which is more interested in their looks than their talent.
The acting in the film is sometimes criticised but I though all the performances were strong. It's clear that efforts are made to give as much screen time to Madonna as possible and but regardless of how she is viewed as an actress she is convincing in the role and a strong cast member. Geena Davies brings her character to life well and along with Tom Hanks is the one we can most relate to, the two are the most rounded of the ensemble and the most believable.
The DVD runs for two hours, but the bonus features contains deleted scenes which extend the film further. Although there's no option to watch them in the film as it would have before they were edited out, they are worth watching separately if you're a fan of the film as they add extra elements to the characters and alter some of the relationships slightly.
In a nutshell: A fictional story which probably contains as much truth as it does fiction. At times this is quite sentimental but it tends to not overdo it, some great performances and a witty script make this compelling film and an interesting snapshot of America in the 1940s.