Play ball! 

Published 11:20 am Tuesday, September 5, 2023

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Sliding into plate this week at Tryon Theatre is our September Tryon Film Society double selection, “Bull Durham” (1988 Shelton) and “A League of Their Own” (1992 Marshall): a perfect pairing for film lovers and baseball lovers in equal measure. 

We have timed these two films in anticipation of the upcoming 2023 World Series. When the fall classic is underway, we will be busy showing our October selections for the Tryon Film Society, two excellent and exciting horror films, soon to be announced! 

“Bull Durham” is a timeless classic sports film, and is informed by first hand experiences of its writer and director, Ron Shelton. Shelton spent time in the minor leagues from 1967-1971, playing as an infielder. His insider participation in baseball’s complicated culture of machismo, superstition and competition gave him ample fodder for writing the organic characters of “Bull Durham.” Leading the cast is Kevin Costner as Crash Davis, a retired AAA pitcher who is brought in to train a rookie pitcher, Nuke LaLoosh (Tim Robbins), hoping to break away from his minor league team. The minor league team in question is none other than our own Durham Bulls, with the very real Durham, NC providing the location for the film’s principle shooting. 

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Upon Crash’s arrival in Durham, he also meets Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon), a devoted baseball groupie/philosopher, seeing her intimate support of key players as a higher calling, a gift to the game of baseball itself. Annie has her sights set on Nuke and his promising future, but the arrival of the talented and charismatic Crash throws a wrench into the works, and throws the success of the Bull’s into jeopardy. 

“A League of Their Own” is a sugary sweet and sunnily warm film, tapping effectively into the purer elements of sport. Namely, the film demonstrates the value of teamwork, and the beautiful capacity for athletic competition to carry social and historical significance. The film tells a fictionalized narrative of the real All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, a fascinating byproduct of America’s WWII society. In 1943, America was facing a deficit of young able bodied men to fulfill the social roles that were nonessential to the war effort. As such Major League Baseball was facing closure, prompting an owner of the Chicago Cubs to pitch a women’s league, hoping to bring fans into stadiums, and birthing the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The film adaption of these events follows Ernie Capadino (Tom Hanks) a curmudgeonly scout hired to find players, led by catcher Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis). 

In sharing a week of showtimes between these two films, both “Bull Durham” and “A League of Their Own” will have three showtimes a piece. “Bull Durham” will play Wednesday evening, Thursday matinee, and Saturday evening. “A League of Their Own” playing Thursday evening, Friday evening, and Sunday matinee. Unfortunately, these repertory films shown during Tryon Film Society weeks are not able to be shown with subtitles on Thursdays, as would normally be the case. We hope to see you all at the ballgame!