Penny Marshall Movies: Top 5 Films She Directed

Penny Marshall

Getty Penny Marshall's 5-Best Films

On Tuesday, Hollywood lost a pioneer and supreme talent with the passing of film and TV legend Penny Marshall. The former star of Laverne and Shirley was a woman of many talents. Her skills as a director were perhaps the most significant and underappreciated.

Marshall was the first female to direct a film that grossed $100 million at the box office. In totality, she helped to change the way the world sees females in the film industry. While she directed a variety of projects, here is a list of MY top 5 films directed by Marshall, in case you’re unfamiliar and want to get acquainted with her work.

1. Big, 1988 (starring Tom Hanks)

Marshall directed some of the top talents of her generation, not least of which was all-world actor Tom Hanks. In 1988, the magical film Big was released in theaters and it is still to this day, my favorite of all of Marshall’s projects. It’s almost like It’s A Wonderful Life, only different, because the person making the wish, wants to an adult, not non-existent.

Here is a trailer:

Big (1988) Original Trailer.Big (1988) Original Trailer.2012-11-09T09:17:25.000Z

The film was done on an $18 million budget, but it grossed over $153 million globally. It helped launch Hanks’ career as a megastar and it inspired me to pursue a career that allows me to play with toys (video games in my case) only to share my opinions and get paid for it. It’s a beautiful thing. Thanks, Josh and Penny.

2. Awakenings, 1990 (starring Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams)

Awakenings – Trailer – (1990) – HQTrailer for Penny Marshall's film starring Robert De Niro, Robin Williams, Julie Kavner, Ruth Nelson, John Heard, Penelope Ann Miller, Alice Drummond, Max von Sydow, Judith Malina, Barton Heyman, George Martin, Anne Meara, Richard Libertini, Laura Esterman, Dexter Gordon, Jayne Haynes, Keith Diamond, Bradley Whitford, Peter Stormare, Mary Alice, Waheedah Ahmad, Vincent Pastore,2009-02-17T00:34:08.000Z

As I said, Marshall directed true legends. Two years after Big, Marshall dropped another gem on us with the marvelous Awakenings. DeNiro and Williams are fantastic in a film about a doctor who takes a job at a clinic with patients who are in a semi-catatonic state.

There is humor, drama and all the emotional stuff that makes for a great movie.

It came out on Christmas in 1990 and did what was an impressive $417,000 on opening weekend. It also earned a nod for Best Picture.

3. A League of Their Own, 1992 (starring Hanks, Rosie O’Donnell, Geena Davis, Virginia Madsen, and Madonna)

A League Of Their Own (HD) Trailer In the farm of Oregon Dottie Henson and Kit Keller are working on the farm. Sisters that do love each other, except when it comes to baseball. Kit wants to play in the league but is upset to hear that it is Dottie who is chosen to play for the AAPGL. (All American Pro Girls League) Dottie refuses to play unless Kit can come along. AAPGL was only made because of the World War II and all of the man were in the war. Along the way to the stadium they meet Marla Hooch who is a great hitter, but to most people not the prettiest girl. When they are going to try out they meet Doris and Mae because Doris threw a baseball at Dottie who caught it impressing Doris. They girls find out their new manager is Jimmy Dugan. Jimmy Dugan drinks a lot and is the worst manager until Dottie get through to him and he becomes a better person. Miss Cuthbert makes sure the rules are followed, no boys, no drinking or smoking until Mae poisons her meal. The girls go to party and Marla who had been overlooked a lot is noticed by a guy named Nelson. Dottie's husband Bob is in the army and when news comes that a man in the army has been killed it turns out to be Betty Spaghetti. After awhile, Kit feels that once again like at home she is behind Dottie's shadow. Dottie notices it to and asks to be transferred to another team. Of course Mr. Lovitz doesn't want the best player to be transferred so he has Kit transferred to Racine. Kit feels that Dottie did this on purpose. Kit plays for the Racine while Dottie plays for Rockford. In the final scene Dottie is crashed into by Kit and she drops the ball, letting Racine win, making Kit have her own stardom instead of being in Dottie's shadow. The girls have a reunion and they remember the fun they had together.2009-11-04T00:16:11.000Z

Every two years, Marshall seemed to deliver a classic. She was on fire in the late 80s and 90s. ALOTO is one of the greatest baseball movies ever made. Partly because of the way it was shot. The scenes were a perfect mix of cinema and sport, and the cast was fantastic.

It’s the story of the ill-fated all-women’s baseball league with characters based on real-life people, including hall-of-famer Jimmie Foxx. Marshall turned a $40 million budget into a film that grossed $132 million worldwide.

4. Preacher’s Wife, 1996 (starring Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston)

The Preacher's Wife – TrailerStarring Academy Award(R)-winner Denzel Washington and multi-talented Whitney Houston, here's a delightful romantic comedy to send spirits soaring! Washington plays a charming angel named Dudley who's sent to earth to help a young minister (Courtney B. Vance) and his beautiful wife (Houston) revive their marriage! But things take a hilarious twist when Dudley accidentally falls in love with the preacher's wife.2014-12-05T05:14:17.000Z

This film has a special place in my heart because there is a scene that is special to members of my family. It’s also a notable piece because Marshall showed diversity in directing an almost entirely African-American cast in a film based on the Bishop’s Wife.
Washington plays an angel who helps to save a couple’s troubled marriage. The film did a solid $4.7 million during the opening weekend, but tailed off a bit after that and barely passed the break-even point of the $40 million budget. It’s kinda corny, but a good movie to watch with your wife or husband.

5. Renaissance Man, 1994 (starring Danny DeVito and Gregory Hines)

Mr. Bill – Renaissance man – Operation Shakespeare – Film Trailer (1994) Danny DeVitoMr. Bill – Renaissance man – Operation Shakespeare – Film Trailer (1994) Danny DeVito2017-12-11T09:43:06.000Z

What can I say? DeVito is one of my favorites and I used to crush hard on Stacey Dash. The movie is about a businessman hired to help a group of misfit soldiers pass army basic training.

This isn’t a masterpiece by any stretch, but it’s a movie you can get a few laughs from on an afternoon if you happen to notice it’s on cable. Don’t be surprised if you see it airing sometime soon in light of Marshall’s passing.

This one did not do well at the box office. It carried the same $40 million budget but only grossed $24.3 million in the United States.

Oh well, no one delivers 100 percent winners, but it doesn’t dim the light Marshall helped to shine in Hollywood.