Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
You know Kit could never lay off the high ones. You know Stilwell Angel would do anything for a chocolate bar. You even know that there are no men in this country who haven't seen All-The-Way Mae's goods. But do you know everything about the 1992 baseball masterpiece A League of Their Own? School yourself with our eight little known facts before reliving the rise and fall of the Rockford Peaches on Netflix Instant.
1. Dottie Hinson was originally set to be played by Debra Winger. Winger and director Penny Marshall butted heads creatively (there are also reports that she pulled out when Madonna was cast), so Geena Davis was an 11th hour replacement.
2. Alice Gaspers's grotesque bruise — the one Jimmy Dugan gleefully takes a picture of — is a real injury that actress Renée Coleman sustained during filming. In fact, all the bumps and bruises that ended up in the final cut were 100 percent real. Girls? I'd say we've got ballplayers.
3. Lavonne "Pepper" Paire-Davis, the inspiration for the League's Queen of Diamonds Dottie Hinson, passed away in 2013. She left behind a legacy that includes 10 full seasons in the All-American Girls Baseball League, a memior fittingly titled Dirt in the Skirt, and a really boss nickname.
4. The home of former Chicago Tribue owner Robert McCormick served as Mr. Harvey's mansion in the film. It's now a museum, so you too can saunter around the grounds like Jimmy Dugan. Though, most likely, you won't be quite as drunk when you do.
5. Penny Marshall told Bob Costas on Costas at the Movies that she "wouldn't read any actress" until she'd proved she could play ball. Demi Moore had the skills but couldn't take the role because she was pregnant. "Bruce literally screwed her out of the part," Marshall indelicately put it.
6. A short-lived TV series based on the movie briefly saw the light of day in 1993, with nearly all the roles recast. We loved you in Christmas Vacation, Sam McMurray. But you can't fill Tom Hanks's cleats.
7. Geena Davis has a 140 IQ, meaning that when Doris asks if Dottie is "a genius or something," Davis could have confidently answered "yes."
8. Remember that crackling sexual tension between Jimmy and Dottie? The cutting room floor is home to a few deleted scenes that would have completely changed the second half of the movie, particularly shedding light on Dottie's snap decision to leave the League. Kit is grating, to be sure, but we knew she couldn't have gotten that far under Dottie's skin. What would Ms. Cuthbert have to say about this?
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
Endless Love has awakened something in me. Not a long dormant passion for an introverted high school classmate, or a sudden desire to break into the zoo after dark. A question about movies — more accurately, about movie criticism. The same question you would ask yourself if you fell drowsy in the middle of Citizen Kane, or welled up during the emotional climax of Just Friends. The question I ask myself now, as I recount the 103 straight minutes of asphyxiating laughter that I endured during a screening of Shana Feste’s would-be romantic drama: What makes a good movie?
We assign deference to some films, disgust to others — a lucky few of us make a living this way. But what, precisely, are we reviewing? A film’s mission or its execution? The product onscreen or the experience of watching it? All factors come into play when considering whether or not a movie “works.” But on rare occasions you’ll get a film that offers no common ground in its meeting of these standards. You’ll get Endless Love, which strives for dramatic sincerity, winds up with underwritten idiocy, and provokes in its viewers an unrestrained, absurdist revelry — the kind of joy you’d otherwise be forced to seek in a third viewing of The Lego Movie. Laughter at the ill-conceived antics and befuddling dialectical patterns of our central teen couple — a Mars native Gabrielle Wilde and her gaping mouthed beau Alex Pettyfer. Elated bemusement at the younger generation’s propensity for chaotic disrobing and didactically organized dance parties. Unprecedented ecstasy at the Mafia movie intimidation tactics of an overprotective dad (Bruce Greenwood) and the brain-dead disregard of a supportive one (Robert Patrick). As a comedy, Endless Love is unstoppable.
I can only hypothesize that it was not Feste’s intention to roll us in the aisles. I have no cold proof that her resolution in paving every nook in her Georgia-set remake with another farcical stone — Wilde’s instantaneous evolution from wordless ingénue to sexually aggressive spirit walker, Patrick’s loving caution-to-the-wind attitude regarding any situation that has to do with a girl, Rhys Wakefield’s “black sheep” character forming an odd amalgamation of Pauly Shore and Charlie St. Cloud — was not one of Wolf of Wall Street-like satire, or reappropriation in the vein of Spring Breakers. Here are two movies that earned scorn from viewers who read them literally, and in turn vehement defense from those who peered through the exaltation of cocaine and firearms into the filmmakers’ ironic intentions.
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
To the latter community, one to which I subscribe, I ask: if we’re readily willing to dive deeper for Martin Scorsese and Harmony Korine, shouldn’t we grant Feste this benefit? If we’d defend the authenticity of the splendor we recognized in their movies, why am I inclined to write off the very same when present in this year’s Valentine’s Day cannonball? Why do I eagerly laud the merit in Leonardo DiCaprio directing Quaalude-charged tribal chants and relinquishing subhuman treatment upon anyone short a Y-chromosome, while instinctively shafting the invaluable merriment in Pettyfer’s goofily deliberate declaration that he likes to read into the category of happy accident?
But an even more precise question (one I was challenged to entertain by a friend and film critic far wiser than I am), and this time to the former community: does it matter? Did it matter to all those offended by gunplay and intrusive nudity that Korine set out to demonize youth culture and its omnipresent hedonism? Did considering his intentions make the endgame any less a visceral nightmare? If not, does it matter if Feste poured her soul into the machination of a timeless love story, only to produce a riotous cinematic episode that treads genre parody as expertly as anything from the golden age of the Zucker brothers? Does it matter that she didn’t intend for Wilde and Pettyfer’s sex scene to come off as super-hoke, for every mention of cancer to feel like soap opera send-up, or for Robert Patrick’s vindication of his son’s passion for menagerie trespassing to elicit the biggest laugh of a movie yet in 2014?
So long as I consider the power of cinema, I’ll never be sure if it matters. I’ll never be sure of the answers to any of these questions. But no matter where I find myself standing on this issue down the line, I had far too much fun at Endless Love — and entertained far too many questions on the nature of cinema and the way we react to it — to call it a movie that people shouldn’t see.
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Batter up, hear that call, the time has come for one and all to pay tribute and remember the amazing life of Lavonne "Pepper" Paire-Davis, the woman who, along with Dorothy Kamenshek, was an inspiration for the character of Dottie Hinson, played by Geena Davis, in the 1992 classic A League of Their Own. According to the New York Times, Paire-Davis — who spent ten seasons in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which she joined in 1944 with her friend Faye Dancer — has passed away at the age of 88. She died in Van Nuys, California, of natural causes. She is survived by two sons, a daughter, four grandchildren, and a brother. (According to the bio on her website, she married Navy Flyer Bob Davis in 1955.)
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The Los Angeles-born Paire-Davis, who penned the memoir Dirt in the Skirt in 2009 and was a consultant on Penny Marshall's A League of Their Own (in various interviews, Paire-Davis said the movie accurately portrayed about 80 percent of what really happened), played the positions of catcher, third base, and shortstop and helped her teams win five championships. She played for the the Minneapolis Millerettes, Racine Belles, the Grand Rapids Chicks, and the Fort Wayne Daisies, though she never actually played for the team on which her character played for in A League of Their Own, the Rockford Peaches. "We played every night of the week," she told the AP during an interview in 1995, "doubleheaders on Sundays and holidays." During her baseball career she had 400 RBIs, which ties her for fourth in league history. In 1950, she drove in 70 runs in 110 games for the Chicks.
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"Pepper," who co-wrote the league's “Victory Song” (the very same one heard in the movie that goes: "We're all for one / We're one for all / We're All-Americans!"), played 926 games until the league was "temporarily suspended" in 1954. Though play never resumed for the A.A.G.P.B.L., Paire-Davis continued to play ball and took part in various speaking engagements, memorabilia signings, and helping with causes close to her heart. According to her official website, she was a member of the Board of Directors and Sports Council of the Paralysis Project and was the first woman coach for the World Children's Baseball Fair.
And while there may be no crying in baseball, forgive us for getting choked up for what Paire-Davis told the AP: "I know what it's like for your dream to come true, mine did. Baseball was the thing I had the most fun doing. It was like breathing."
[Photo credit: Bill Kostroun/AP Photo]
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While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
Dorothy 'Dottie' Kamenshek passed away of natural causes at her home in Palm Desert, California, on 17 May (10). She was 84.
Infielder Kamenshek was a member of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, playing for Illinois' Rockford Peaches from 1943 to 1952.
She served as the basis for the character Dottie Hinson, played by actress Geena Davis, in the 1992 comedy about professional women's baseball in the 1940s.