A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN
A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN ($25) is a warm and truly funny movie about the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, which was created during the height of the Second World War. Director Penny Marshall does a great job of bringing to life this bygone era- a time when most major league players had traded in their team colors for a uniform that was just a bit more patriotic. Of course, just as Rosie The Riveter stepped in to keep the factories running on the home front, A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN weaves its story around how the women of All American Girls Professional Baseball League, who helped keep Americaís national pastime alive during the war years.
The story of A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN centers on the sibling rivalry between Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) and Kit Keller (Lori Petty), a pair of the sisters, who end up catching and pitching for one of the newly formed womenís baseball teams. Serving as the teamís coach/manager is Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks); a former big leaguer, who rarely crawls out of the bottle long enough to care about the women under his supposed leadership. Of course, with Jimmy sidelined most of the time; it falls to Dottie (the leagueís best player) to lead the team to their first few victories. As their winning ways continue, Jimmy eventually sobers up and begins to see the women in his charge as real baseball players. A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN also features a scene stealing performance from Jon Lovitz, as well as some great support from the likes of Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell, Garry Marshall, Megan Cavanagh, David Strathairn and Tracy Reiner.
Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made of A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays (a full screen presentation is also included, for anyone that cares). This is a rally nice looking transfer that brings out the beauty in the filmís nostalgic and ever so slightly gauzy cinematography. Sharpness and image detail are both very good, although not up to the hyper-realistic levels of some newer movies. Colors appear warm and appealing, while flesh tones come across in a fairly natural manner. Saturation is good, although none of the hues become overly intense. Blacks are accurate, whites are solid and contrast is smooth. Shadow detail is just fine, with no murkiness being evident. The film element used for the transfer displays some minor blemishes, as well as an occasionally noticeable grain structure, but neither are particularly bothersome. Digital compression artifacts are never a cause for concern.
A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN is offered with a Dolby Digital 3.1 channel soundtrack. The mix is something of an odd bird for a film from 1992, especially since the three channels of the forward soundstage is reasonably well utilized, as is the subwoofer channel, while the surrounds remain silent. While much of A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN is dialogue driven, I think the baseball game sequences could have benefited from ambient sounds and active surround effects. Still, the fidelity of the track is quite good, which allows one to appreciate Hans Zimmerís lively, period flavored score. The bass channel is reasonably solid, which helps both the music and the baseball game sequences. Dialogue is always intelligible, while the voices themselves maintain a fairly natural sounding character. A French Dolby Surround track is also provided, as are English subtitles.
Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials, which are spread across both disc of the set. Director Penny Marshall, plus actresses Lori Petty, Megan Cavanagh and Tracy Reiner are on hand to provide a running audio commentary. This is a pretty good commentary track that provides a goodly amount production of detail, as well as some enjoyable stories from the set.
On disc two, one will find Nine Memorable Innings, a multi-part program that provides a detailed look at the production of A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN, through a series of interviews with the cast and crew. A play all feature gives this very enjoyable program a running time of more than fifty minutes. There are also fifteen deleted/extended scenes provided on disc two, which include optional introductions from the director. One will find a lot of interesting material amongst more than a half hours worth deleted sequences, some of which provide a completely different nuance to the story. Up next, is the Madonnaís video This Used To Be My Playground. Filmographies, plus a theatrical trailer and bonus trailers close out the supplements.
A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN is a sweet, nostalgic comedy that Iíve always found to be quite appealing. Columbia has done a good job with the filmís presentation on this Special Edition DVD, as well as including some enjoyable supplements. If you are a fan, the DVD is a worthwhile upgrade. If youíve never owned a copy of A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN, then this is the DVD to have.
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