For those who haven’t heard, Penny Marshall passed away earlier today.
Based off of the Twitter reaction, people most associate Marshall with Laverne & Shirley, the ABC sitcom on which she starred for eight seasons in the late 1970s and early 1980s. And this makes sense—the program was iconic, the humor legit, the impact powerful. I didn’t love Laverne & Shirley as much as I did Happy Days and The Wonder Years, but it hangs in there as a classic’s classic.
That being said, for me Marshall’s impact—personally, professionally—dates back to 1992, when she directed A League of Their Own, a film I still consider to be the best sports movie ever made.
I know … I know—the best sports movie ever made? What about Rocky? What about Remember the Titans? What about Slap Shot and Rudy and Bull Durham and Eight Men Out? What about Field of Dreams?
Well, what about them?
A League of Their Own is special. Special to me, special to my wife, special to my kids. Hell, we just watched it last week, when our fruitless search for a Friday night flick led Emmett to say, “Let’s do A League of Their Own” and—despite it being our 10th or 11th all-time viewing—no one argued.
Put simply, the movie is the near-perfect retelling of the story of the first-ever female professional baseball league, and features an all-star cast that includes Madonna, Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Rosie O’Donnell. There are (no exaggeration) at least 10 legitimately iconic scenes/lines. In fact, fuck it. Here you go …
It’s a movie about female empowerment. It’s a movie about family. It’s a movie that makes you laugh, makes you cry, make you cite lines for years to come. There’s no crying in baseball. The train moves, not the station. You’re still missing the cutoff man. That’s something I’d like you to work on … before next season. Did anyone ever tell you, you look like a penis with that little hat on? It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.
God, it’s just ridiculously great.
As was Penny Marshall.