I have really been enjoying Jim Cullen’s series of posts on Hollywood actors as historians. So far he has posted short essays on Daniel Day Lewis, Denzel Washington, and now Tom Hanks. (I wonder if he is going to do any women actors). Today’s post discusses one of my favorite Hanks roles–the character of Jimmy Dugan in A League of Their Own. Here is a small taste:
More substantial – and for our purposes, a turning point, particularly as it concerns Hanks’s historical vision – is A League of Their Own. League was another Penny Marshall project, a plum assignment for a female director at what could be termed a feminist moment. The Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill controversy of 1991 generated new awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace, and the optics of a row of older white males sitting in judgment of a female sparked the so-called “Year of the Woman” that brought fresh faces, like U.S. Senator Patty Murray, to Congress. This was also the moment of Thelma & Louise, a cinematic feminist manifesto by screenwriter Callie Khouri. The early nineties was also a time when a new wave of feminist scholarship committed to documenting the lives ordinary people began trickling down into popular consciousness. And one when the passage of Title IX, a 1972 law that promoted equity in sports, was reaching critical mass in the nation’s schools. All these currents converged to create an audience for a film loosely based on a real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League founded by Chicago Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley, which ran from 1943 to 1954. Women players in the league were inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1998.
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