Damn Yankees! (1958)

Damn Yankees!Damn_Yankees_1958
Directed by George Abbott and Stanley Donen
Written by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop
1958/USA
Warner Bros. presents a George Abbott and Stanley Donen Production
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental

Joe Boyd: One long ball hitter, that’s what we need! I’d sell my soul for one long ball hitter.

Here is another movie I remember in black-and-white.  I could still sing along with all the songs.  Love it!

Joe Boyd is a rabid fan of the Washington Senators baseball team, an affection about as fruitless as being a Chicago Cubs fan most years.  The middle-aged realtor is glued to the tube during baseball season but otherwise enjoys a loving relationship with his wife Meg. As the Senators lose yet another game, Joe offers to sell his soul for their success.

Enter Mr. Applegate (Ray Walston) who takes Joe up on his offer.  He knows Joe not only loves the Senators but has fantasized about being a baseball hero his whole life.  Joe cannot help but agree.  He is cautious enough to negotiate an escape clause and promises he will return to his wife.  He then morphs into the 22-year-old Joe Hardy (Tab Hunter).

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Joe is such an outstanding hitter that he is hired directly onto the Senators despite his lack of previous experience.  He still is drawn to his wife, even renting a vacant room in their house.  Mr. Applegate retaliates by sending his acolyte Lola (Gwen Verdon) to seduce him. We follow the Senators winning season and Lola’s efforts in various directions.  With Jean Stapleton as a baseball fan and Meg’s friend.

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As far as I am concerned this movie is perfect in every way.  Most of these people are reprising their Broadway performances, which had been honed to a vey fine edge.  Verdon is fantastic as is her chemistry with Walston.  I wish she had done more film work.  It may be her slightly goofy appearance that held her back, but I find even that totally endearing. Bob Fosse did the choreography and we get the joy of seeing him dance with Verdon. The staging comes off as a filmed play but I don’t mind in the least.

Damn Yankees! was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture.

Trailer

Clip – “Those Were the Good Old Days”

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