Penny Marshall’s A League of Their Own, an ode to the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League that existed between 1943 thru 1954, makes its 4K debut in Sony’s six-movie Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection boxed set.
The Production: 4.5/5
As the men are shipped off to fight in World War II, Major League Baseball finds itself forced to shut down due to a shortage of players and travel restrictions. Taking a cue from Rosie the Riveter and to boost morale at home, one of the team’s owners and candy bar magnate, Walter Harvey (Garry Marshall), decides to start a girl’s baseball league with teams located mostly in the mid-west. Harvey places Ira Lowenstein (David Strathairn) in charge of the league, and sends his scouts to recruit possible team members. One such scout, Ernie Capadino (Jon Lovitz), wants to recruit Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) after seeing her play at a local softball game in Oregon, but not all that interested in her sister Kit Keller (Lori Petty), at least until he sees her pitch, and escorts them to Chicago for tryouts. Dottie and Kit make the cut and are recruited on the same team, the Rockford Peaches, to be managed by washed up baseball legend Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks).
A League of Their Own is a story about sisters, their rivalry and comradery, as well as a look at where women stood during World War II and as the war wound down. Director Penny Marshall (Big) and screenwriters Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel (Splash, City Slickers) bring a lot of humor and heart to the story, allowing the talented cast, especially Tom Hanks and Geena Davis, but also Lori Petty, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, Ann Cusack, Anne Ramsay, Bitty Schram (Monk) and Jon Lovitz (in perhaps his career-best role) flex their comedic muscles. The movie does get a bit sentimental, especially at during the finale at the Baseball Hall of Fame, but makes a perfect double bill with Barry Levinson’s The Natural.
3D Rating: NA
A League of Their Own was photographed on 35mm film using Panavision cameras and lenses, so this UHD release can be considered native 4K. Sony scanned the original camera negative in 4K for this release, recreating many of the optical dissolves digitally and basing the color timing on the previous transfer approved by director Penny Marshall (per the liner notes on the restoration). Director of Photography Miroslav Ondricek’s (Amadeus) period-set cinematography comes across beautifully in this new 2160p HEVC-encoded transfer using HDR10 (the included digital copy adds Dolby Vision on select retailers), with naturally appearing film grain, improved contrast, color, and fine detail. Let’s start with fine detail, such as Tom Hanks’ beard stubble, individual blades of grass and grains of dirt on the baseball field, etc. Colors appear more natural, particularly the reds in both the baseball caps and lipstick of the Peaches. Contrast is excellent, allowing fabric textures and lettering on the outfield billboards appear much more prominent. The included Blu-ray disc uses this new transfer, as well.
The new Dolby Atmos track is exclusive to the UHD disc (the Blu-ray has to settle for a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track). This is an immersive track without being gimmicky, as there are no discrete overhead sound effects that were obvious other than PA reverberation. What the track does do is place you in the middle of the ballfield, with enveloping crowd effects and precisely placed effects that move seamlessly within the listening space. Dialogue is clear and understandable throughout, again moving seamlessly as needed on screen. Both 5.1 and 2.0 stereo mixes have been included in DTS-HD MA.
Special Features: 3.5/5
An important note: all of the UHD discs in the Columbia Classics set have a much appreciated and improved menu design over what Sony has been utilizing since the launch of this format that I often found frustrating. The improved menu design is more similar to what we have been used to with Blu-ray, bringing back a real pop-up menu (allowing you to access audio and subtitle options without leaving the movie) and select special features on the fly.
Another important note: Although the movie is currently only available in the oversized boxed set, the discs are housed in a standard 2-disc UHD keepcase featuring original poster artwork and a slipcover with more updated artwork.
Both the UHD disc and remastered Blu-ray (which uses the same exact menu design as the UHD) include some new special features.
Theatrical Trailers (1080p; 7:12): Six trailers in all are included – Theatrical Trailer with the late, great Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Vin Scully; International Trailer; Geena Davis Teaser; Tom Hanks Teaser; Madonna Teaser; and Jon Lovitz Teaser.
This disc contains all of the special features from the 25th Anniversary Blu-ray release from 2017, plus three episodes from the very short-lived television series spinoff.
The Enduring Legacy of “A League of Their Own” (1080p; 12:13)
Deleted Scenes (upscaled 1080i; 37:05): Viewable with or without an introduction by Penny Marshall.
1993 TV Series Episodes (upscaled 1080i; 70:56): New to this release, three episodes from the short-lived series – Dottie’s Back, Shortstop and Marathon.
Director and Cast Commentary
Nine Memorable Innings (upscaled 1080i; 52:35)
This Used to Be My Playground Music Video by Madonna (upscaled 1080i; 5:02)
Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy (in UHD where available) on Movies Anywhere.
A League of Their Own hits a home run on 4K UHD Blu-ray, although at present it is only available as part of Sony’s six-movie Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection boxed set.