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Damn Yankees (1958)


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Damn Yankees

 

This is the screen version of composer/lyricist Richard Adler and Jerry Ross?s follow up to ?The Pajama Game?. ?Damn Yankees? was titled ?What Lola Wants? when released in some overseas countries - the ?Damn Yankees? title was considered too risqu?.

 

The story revolves around a middle aged man who makes a deal with the devil whereby he is transformed into a youth to help out the fortunes of a failing baseball team.

 

The score is tuneful but not memorable. The most enduring song from the show is ?You?ve Got To Have Heart?. Whilst the story is interesting, it is defeated somewhat by the nasty character of the devil as played by Ray Walston. Another actor would probably have been able to make the character more likeable. Gwen Verdon (reprising her Broadway role) as the witch is very good and excels when given the opportunity to really dance, especially in the number ?Two Lost Souls? (a direct descendant of the ?Hernando?s Hideaway? number from ?The Pajama Game?). Tab Hunter is appealing as the young version of the middle aged man, however it becomes obvious that he has no dancing skills because he conveniently disappears when large scale dance numbers are staged. All this being said, the film still has much to offer - not the least the opportunity to see Gwen Verdon and Bob Fosse (the choreographer of ?Damn Yankees?) dance together in the sensational ?Who?s Got The Pain When They Do The Mambo? and lovers of musicals should endeavour to see this movie.

 

It would have been interesting to see what other musicals would have followed ?The Pajama Game? and ?Damn Yankees? has Jerry Ross, one half of the composer/lyricist team, not met with an untimely death at the age of 29.

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I think the songs are memorable..... but not as good as PAJAMA GAME.....

 

I also remember the original cast album that was re-issued with Verdon wearing ruffles around the bottom of her Lola costume since it was considered risque....

 

I had the album when I was a kid and sang the songs for decades....

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I especially like the "Two Lost Souls" number with Gwen Verdon and Tab Hunter, where he actually does dance a little until Verdon takes the spotlight.... and of her her hilarious "A Little Brains, A Little Talent."

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I'd agree. I think PAJAMA GAME has a slight edge, maybe because of Doris Day. I never get tired of this musical. I always wonder what the film would have been like had they cast Janis Paige, the original star of the B'way musical in this film instead of Day. Very talented Paige never quite made it as a top star in Hollywood and oddly enough many times her singing voice was dubbed. But I think WB bought PAJAMA GIRL specifically for Day and they had no intention of using Paige.

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fat.... but is was probably the 50s style (those big wide belts) that made her look awful... but she couldn't sing either.... and why was "Babe" doing "Hernando's Hideaway" ?

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fat.... but is was probably the 50s style (those big wide belts) that made her look awful... but she couldn't sing either.... and why was "Babe" doing "Hernando's Hideaway" ?

 

There's a big difference between doing a number live, and pre-recording a number for a film. Perhaps she wasn't feeling well that night? Perhaps she just started off on the wrong note? For a film, they would have gotten it right. After all, Janice Page sang on film, and sounded just fine. But, even on the Broadway cast album, she's no equal for Doris Day!

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