User Reviews (52)

Add a Review

  • The superb Gwen Verdon sings and dances and mugs through this very good adaptation of the smash Broadway musical. Verdon is a cross between Shirley MacLaine and Carol Burnett with a dash of Carol Haney (another Bob Fosse protégé) tossed in. She's a total delight and one of the best dancers EVER! Here she plays Lola, the temptress used by the devil (Ray Walston) to lure Joe Hardy (Tab Hunter) from going back to his wife and breaking his satanic deal in which middle-aged Joe becomes a 22-year-old baseball star and catapults the Washington Senators to 1st place.

    Tab Hunter replaces Stephen Douglass from the Broadway show. The rest of the cast recreates their parts for the movie. Verdon, Walston, and Russ Brown (the manager) all won Tony awards. Hunter seems rather stiff and uncomfortable through much of the film (though he looks great) but that's the part of Joe.... Hunter is, however, just terrific in the "Two Lost Souls" number with Verdon. He sings, dances (not too bad) and seems to be having a ball. Verdon is just astounding in this number and laughs all the way thru it. Great song.

    Verdon is also a showstopper in "Whatever Lola Wants" and "A Little Brains, a Little Talent." It seems these songs were written for her and no one else can do them the way she does. Verdon, like Ethel Merman or Carold Channing, was a total original. The voice is slightly nasal; the inflection is odd. But it works. And her dancing is totally awesome.

    Ray Walston seems to have been typecast in weirdo roles after Damn Yankees and My Favorite Martian. He was a better actor than these roles allowed him to show. Russ Brown is solid as the manager, Jean Stapleton plays the friend (and sings), Rae Allen is Gloria (the reporter), Shannon Bolin is the wife, Jimmie Komack is the goofy ballplayer, Nathaniel Frey is Smokey, Bob Fosse has a cameo in "Who's Got the Pain," and Robert Shafer plays old Joe.

    Good songs by the same team that did The Pajama Game. Many of the songs were hits of the later 50s. My only beef is that most of the songs are truncated (I had the Broadway soundtrack) and at least one "I Thought About the Game" is used only as background music. Verdon's "A Little Brains, a Little Talent" is cut in half as is Bolin's "Six Months Out of Every Year." Certainly worth a look to see Broadway superstar Gwen Verdon in her prime and Tab Hunter at his hunkiest.
  • This is another film which would probably be better rated if it wasn't so slavishly compared to its stage original. It does its job just fine, thank you, but you must remember that stage and film are two different media in terms of what is allowed to be shown to the masses in the first place. In the conservative, postwar 50's there was very little controversy shown (or allowed to be shown) in the film and TV media; a Faustian book made into a film musical probably scared the Hays moral office to death! That said, the Abbott-Donen collaboration does a more than competent job of telling the story, and scores an extra base hit in my opinion by retaining most of the Broadway cast of the show in the first place. The casting rumors are legendary: I've read that the studio tried to get Cyd Charisse and possibly even Marilyn Monroe for Lola (assuring box-office returns), but the producers were smart enough to know that the role needed a real dancer-singer-actress combination. In short, it needed Gwen Verdon exclusively. And it got her. If you're still not convinced, take a second look at the exquisite midnight cafe' number, "Two Lost Souls."
  • I bought this movie not knowing what to expect. The only things I knew were that I LOVED Bob Fosse's choreography from films I had seen previously (Sweet Charity, Cabaret) and I loved to hear Gwen Verdon sing (Sweet Charity soundtrack). This movie was in no way, shape or form a waste of my 14 dollars and 99 cents! Ray Walston (reprising his Broadway role) is delightfully evil as the Devil himself (cleverly disgusing himself as a "Mr. Applegate") who has a warped mind and twisted sense of humor, which is evident in his song "The Good Ol' Days." Tab Hunter is superb as Joe Hardy (or "Shoeless Joe From Hannibal Mo."), the man who sells his soul to become the best long hitter there is, and help his favorite team, the Washington Senators, win the pennant and beating the "damn Yankees." To me, the real star here though, is Gwen Verdon as the seductress, Lola. Not only can this woman act wonderfully, but she has a beautiful singing voice (with a throaty, grainy yet girlish quality) and she is an absolutely FANTASTIC dancer (she's the living embodiment of Fosse's work)! She is the most wonderful dancer/singer/actress ever to grace the Broadway stage and films... it's such a shame they didn't let her play Charity in 1969's Sweet Charity (though Shirley MacLaine did do a good job in the role). She has absolutely become my hero, role model, and favorite actress of all time. Go Gwen! Go Damn Yankees!
  • "Damn Yankees" is old-fashioned entertainment, a bit too talky and literal-minded, but great songs and great dancing never get old. It's worth plodding through the more mundane aspects of this film to relish the classic numbers. "Who's Got The Pain?" has nothing whatsoever to do with the plot, but it proves beyond question that Gwen Verdon is the prime interpreter of the Fosse dance style. "Whatever Lola Wants" is actually rather tame in comparison. The highlight is the smoky, seductive duet "Two Lost Souls," where Verdon lets loose with the greatest of ease. The surprise here is Tab Hunter, who holds his own and handles all the Fosse moves just fine. Jean Stapleton's Sister Miller is an early rehearsal for Edith Bunker. I personally prefer the other George Abbott/Stanley Donen collaboration "The Pajama Game," which is livelier. See them both.
  • Damn Yankees was one of two Broadway shows written by the team of Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, the other being The Pajama Game which got made into films almost immediately upon the cessation of the Broadway run. Damn Yankees ran in the 1955-1957 season for 1019 performances and both Gwen Verdon and Ray Walston continued their roles from Broadway.

    However the protagonist Joe Boyd/Joe Hardy part, the middle aged real estate salesman who is a fanatic baseball fan of the lowly Washington Senators, was played by Tab Hunter in the Joe Hardy persona. As in that other Broadway film My Fair Lady it was felt that one of the leads should go to a bona fide movie name in that case Audrey Hepburn in this one Tab Hunter.

    In his memoirs Hunter said that he was apprehensive about taking over a musical lead because he admitted he was no singer. But the arrangements were certainly done to accommodate his limited range and he acquits himself well. He certainly does look well in the baseball scenes and even keeps up with Gwen Verdon.

    Gwen Verdon like Mitzi Gaynor came along in the Fifties just when Hollywood was slowing down with the making of musicals due to the decline of the studio system. Gwen did such other leads on Broadway as Sweet Charity, New Girl in Town, and Redhead, but only with Damn Yankees was she allowed to go to Hollywood and repeat her stage performance. Gwen like Mitzi was a fabulous dancer and in the Thirties and Forties she would have become acclaimed film name.

    Ray Walston got his career break in the part of Mr. Applegate the devil's identity for this film. Back when I was a lad and first saw Damn Yankees in the theater, I was enthralled by Walston's performance and became a fan until the day he died. Walston plays the devil like a spoiled child and there might just be some theological justification for that.

    The big hit songs from Damn Yankees was Gwen Verdon's seduction number and dance, Whatever Lola Wants. Few people ever on stage and screen could move like her.

    The second and even bigger hit was Heart, sung her by Russ Brown and some of the other actors playing hapless Washington Senator players under their eternally optimistic manager Brown. The song was a big million seller for Eddie Fisher who was at the height of his vocal career then.

    Damn Yankees the film was released in 1958. In 1960 the original Washington Senators played their last year in Washington, DC. For the poor fans of the Senators it was a double blow. The team was just beginning to jell as a contender and in 1965 they did in fact in their new home in Minneapolis/St.Paul as the Minnesota Twins did win the American League pennant as the Yankee dynasty crumbled at last.

    In their place came another new Washington Senator franchise which continued in the second division ways that Washington knew so well and that fans like Joe Boyd were used to. They played their last season in the capital in 1971 and the capital was without Major League baseball until 2005 when the Montreal Expos moved and became the Washington Nationals. I'm afraid we may never see the name Senators attached to a Washington team again. The Texas Rangers have the name copyrighted.

    Still the Nationals in the other league are doing their best to hold up the Washington tradition of first in war, first in peace and last in now the National League East. Washington saw three pennants in 1924, 1925, and 1933 and one World Series winner in 1924.

    They might just need another Joe Hardy to move the team. Let's hope someone doesn't have to make an arrangement with Mr. Applegate to make it possible to beat those Damn Yankees.
  • All I'm going to do here is rave about a Broadway Legend. We have to be grateful for film, because otherwise some of the theater's greatest performers would exist only in memory. The film version of the 1955 Broadway smash is definitely Gwen Verdon's most memorable screen appearance - as the movie of CALL ME MADAM is probably the closest film approximation we have to what Ethel Merman was like on-stage, so DAMN YANKEES is for Gwen Verdon. No other film performance captures her presence and sparkle, the incredible movements her body was capable of - she's at her best here, and viewers familiar only with the comic roles she played later in her career will be amazed at this consummate musical comedy performer. She's completely infectious and delightful, even when she's not singing or dancing - the lady had PRESENCE, and she displays enough vulnerability to make us like a character who doesn't always do very likable things. She's elegant as she matter-of-factly explains her work methods in "A Little Brains, A Little Talent" and has a whopper of a dance duet with Bob Fosse called "Who's Got the Pain?" (they weren't married yet, but she was already becoming his favorite instrument of dance; his was a cameo appearance added to the film - on stage Verdon's partner was another of the show's characters - if you listen closely you'll hear Tab Hunter say "That was wonderful, Fosse!" at the number's conclusion). And she looks gorgeous in a series of colorful costumes, although in her signature number, "Whatever Lola Wants..." the costume grows skimpier and skimpier as she increases her efforts to seduce Tab Hunter. In THE BLUE ANGEL Marlene Dietrich's "Naughty Little Lola" used a chair as a prop to sing about "Falling in Love Again," (which would resonate decades later as Liza Minnelli sang about "Mein Herr")- in DAMN YANKEES Verdon uses a locker-room bench, and this "other Naughty Lola" ends up almost as scantily dressed! A word about Ray Walston's Mr. Applegate: He is NOT a nice guy!
  • This musical, when revived about a decade ago with Jerry Lewis as Applegate, was referred to as a fable for the Eisenhower Years. It is set in a faintly comfortable period (once the McCarthyite Persecutions were finished), because the concept of this musical was the preoccupation of the American public with the national pastime of baseball, and it's singular domination (between 1947 and 1962) by the New York Yankees. Although the Yankees had had other periods of greatness, with Ruth, Gehrig, "Murderers Row" in the late 1920s and early 1930s, they had to share the domination of the World Series with other teams in that period (the Philadelphia Athletics, the Detroit Tigers, and the St. Louis Cardinals, to name three). But the Yankees in this period started with Joe DiMaggio, entered into the period dominated by Mickey Mantel, Whitey Ford, Billy Martin, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, Don Larsen, Roger Maris, and presided over by Casey Stengel. They did not always win (one memorable defeat was by their perennial enemy the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955), but they won so often that to non-baseball fans it was monotonous to follow the sports news: you knew what should finally happen.

    So the background of this baseball era is important to understand the musical (one of the few times the actual historical background of the time the musical was created becomes that important). Joe Boyd (Robert Shafer) is a fanatical baseball lover and fan of the woebegone Washington Senators (the saying for many years about the Senators was, "First in war, first in peace, and last in their league."). The team had only one great moment: in 1924 they won the World Series when the team had one of baseball's greatest players on it - Walter Johnson. But it never really was in competition again after that. But Boyd is a fan, and he makes the mistake of being willing to sell his soul to allow the Senators a chance to win the series again. Enter Mr. Applegate (a.k.a. the Devil) played fiendishly well by Ray Walston. He offers Joe a contract that will make Joe the greatest baseball player of all time - and lead to the world series - in return for his soul. Hesitant at first, Joe agrees. He is transformed into Joe Hardy (Tab Hunter), and proceeds to try to join the Senators (with Applegate as his agent).

    The Devil can never be trusted in any agreement. Applegate hopes to cause a wave of hope and hysteria by the anti-Yankee baseball public, letting Joe lead his team to the World Series. He plans to pull the rug from underneath the team at the final moment. Unfortunately Joe is a good salesman on his own, and has insisted on an escape clause for himself. Applegate has to accept it for the sake of his own plans. The escape clause is there because Joe loves his wife Meg (Sharon Bolin) and does not want her to be hurt. So Applegate decides to recruit his best female agent, Lola (Gwen Vernon) to vamp Joe and make him forget Meg. But Joe is too faithful, and succeeds in overcoming Lola's "irrisistable" personality (as she sings, "Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets" - except here). Lola, shaken by the experience, becomes a type of groupie for Joe - and eventually starts a mini-revolt on her own against Applegate.

    The score of the show is memorable. Besides the key song "Heart" (sung by the Washington team players), and Lola's "Whatever" number, there is also "Two Lost Souls", "Goodbye Old Girl" and Walston's wonderful "Those were the good old days!" (when he fondly recalls all the tragedies he created in the history of mankind - including the day Jack the Ripper was born). Walston was not nominated for any awards for the movie performance*, but his Applegate is one of his best film performances, with his Gillis in SOUTH PACIFIC. He had played both on Broadway first, so we are lucky to have his film performances here.

    *(But won the Tony Award for the role on stage.)

    Stanley Donan co-directed this film with George Abbott. Abbott was usually a stage director (he had done the musical on Broadway). There is a moment when it is apparent that he is directing. There is a small dance done by one of the three ball players in the "Heart" number, and the close-up of the player as he smiles shyly and steps forward is out of place in the film - but would have worked on stage.
  • Baseball was never this much fun in a movie. Ray Walston is hilarious as the devil (here known as Mr. Applegate) come to earth to seduce disgruntled Washington Senators' fan Joe Boyd (Robert Shafer) into entering a Faustian pact with him: Joe gets to become the greatest baseball player ever on earth in exchange for his immortal soul. It's a done deal, and Joe instantly becomes young and handsome Joe Hardy (Tab Hunter); unfortunately, Joe is still attached to his wife and wants to continue living with her, so Applegate enlists the services of master seductress Lola (Gwen Verdon), and whatever Lola wants, Lola gets. Verdon's performance in this role is so fantastic you'll be mortified that she didn't get the opportunity to show off on the big screen again until "Cocoon" in 1985. Bob Fosse's choreography here is top-notch, and all of Richard Adler and Jerry Ross' songs (taken from the Broadway musical with only two songs cut and a new one added) are excellently performed. Hunter is infectiously charming as the young Joe, and though he seems a little stiff at times, his wide-eyed innocence is much better than some would give him credit for. The film's only shortcoming is direction by George Abbott (who directed the original play) and Stanley Donen that misses a few steps thanks to some awkward editing. It's no real fault though: these actors could ride comfortably over any bump in the road. Look for choreographer (and Verdon's then-husband) Fosse making a cameo in the "Who's Got The Pain?" number. If you like it go and rent Abbott and Donen's previous success with an Adler and Ross musical, "The Pajama Game".
  • If you ask me - and I'm a "jazz" man as you can see from my moniker - Damn Yankees is the best musical ever. The subject matter is classic, the story is entertaining, the music is scintillating, and the lyrics are clever to the Nth degree with layers upon layers of internal rhyming that reveal new intricacies with each listening.

    Okay, the movie has some weaknesses. Anybody BUT Tab Hunter would probably have been better as Joe Hardy. Also one of the best numbers from the play, "I Thought About The Game" was cut because it was considered too lewd for the movie.

    But that's quibbling. Gwen Verdon and Ray Walston lift this movie into the upper echelons of all time greatest musicals.
  • The smash hit Broadway musical Damn Yankees was transferred to the screen with all but one of its original Broadway cast, its original director, and its original choreographer intact. This has both good and bad consequences. The good is that the great performances of the cast and the dynamic, sexy choreography of a young Bob Fosse are preserved for posterity. Although top billing is given to the one non-Broadway holdover, Tab Hunter, the real star of the film is the incredible Gwen Verdon recreating her spellbinding, Tony-winning turn as Lola. With comic timing, energy, sex appeal and incredible dancing ability to spare, it's impossible to succumb to her charms when she takes the stage... er, screen in her numbers "A Little Brains, A Little Talent," "Who's Got the Pain" (In a delightful pairing with Fosse himself), "Two Lost Souls," and especially the classic "Whatever Lola Wants," and, as another reviewer noted, it's amazing that this didn't lead to a longer and more rewarding movie career. She had a brilliant career for years after on Broadway but it still is a shame that more of her work wasn't preserved. Ray Walston is hammy but devishly (Sorry about the pun) delightful as Applegate, and the supporting cast, including Jean Stapleton, is all fine. Nobody can really sing, but they inject the performances of their songs with such zest, energy and sweet sincerity that it doesn't really matter. The only problem is that, even though George Abbot, the original Broadway director, is paired witht he more cinematically knowledgeable Stanley Donen, everything is very stagey and there isn't much effort to open the action out. But when Verdon is working her magic, it's pretty hard to care, so that seems like a stupid quibble. So kick back, relax and enjoy Damn Yankees. It may not be the most inventive movie musical ever, but it's got a little brians, a little talent, plenty of heart, and Gwen Verdon. Who could ask for anything more?
  • Gwen Verdon was a Broadway legend with long gorgeous legs and an undeniable stage and screen charisma. Her legendary stage career earned her four Tony Awards, thanks in no small part to her long time Svengali and ex-husband Bob Fosse. Sadly, the only time Verdon was allowed to bring a role she created on Broadway to the big screen was in DAMN YANKEES, a sparkling film adaptation of the Richard Ross-Jerry Adler musical about a middle-aged baseball fan named Joe Boyd (Robert Shafer)who sells his soul to the devil for his favorite team, the Washington Senators, to win the pennant. The devil, apparently in desperate need of converts, appears in Joe's living room in the form of a Mr. Applegate (Ray Walston)and changes Joe Boyd into Joe Hardy (Tab Hunter), a young and unbeatable baseball player who helps lead the Senators to the pennant until he starts to get homesick and Applegate sends in his # 1 agent/witch named Lola (Verdon) to distract Joe. The film is well-mounted by Broadway legend George Abbott and Verdon and Ralston effectively reprise their Tony-Award winning stage roles and Fosse is even showcased, dancing in a rare duet with wife Verdon on "Who's Got the Pain?" and trust and believe, seeing Fosse and Verdon dance together is worth the price of admission alone. Other great songs in the score include "Whatever Lola Wants", "Heart","Those Were the Good Old Days", and "Shoeless Joe From Hannibal Mo". Not the greatest musical ever made, but Verdon, Ralston, and Fosse's brilliant choreography make it worth watching and re-watching.
  • A nearly perfect movie musical with one flaw that brings my rating down to an 8. Several songs were omitted or shortened from the Broadway version, mostly because they were too long for a movie or too risque for a 1950's audience. One number, however was dropped because it was out of Tab Hunter's vocal range: "A Man Doesn't Know." In my opinion this was the best song in the Broadway musical. The reprise was a powerful closer for the show. Sheldon Harnick wrote the replacement, "There's Something About an empty Chair," solo (collaborator Jerry Bock had died a few years earlier), and the difference was painfully obvious. Abbot, Donen and the producers made a grave mistake in not retaining the original song for the reprise which would have been sung by Robert Shafer, not Tab Hunter.

    Whenever "Damn Yankees" is staged these days (it's less dated than most musicals of its day) "A Man Doesn't Know" is in its proper place and "Empty Chair" is justifiably and mercifully forgotten.
  • For me there are two kinds of musicals: ones where the music grabs me, and ones where the music doesn't grab me. The music for this one grabbed me from the very big inning. (get it?)

    Most musicals have a story like Boy Meets Girl, Girl Doesn't Like Boy for some Reason, and Everybody Sings About It. The musicals I tend to like best are the ones like Fiddler on the Roof, Oliver!, or Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, that don't have so much of a love-story type plotline.

    Damn Yankees contains a love story, but the real Love Story of this movie is Joe's love for the Washington Senators, which then conflicts with his love for Home and Hearth. Lola comes in a distant third.
  • As musicals go, DAMN YANKEES was a highly popular Broadway hit because it gave the audience GWEN VERDON's way with a song and dance and Bob Fosse's choreography. It may not have been as filled with hit tunes as some, but "You Gotta Have Heart", "Whatever Lola Wants," and "Two Lost Souls" were good enough to make theater patrons happy.

    When Verdon (and Ray Walston) won their Tony's, it was a good thing Warner Bros. decided to lure both of them to Hollywood for the screen version. For box-office insurance they had hunky TAB HUNTER to ensure that movie fans would show up--and, surprisingly, it all works very well. Hunter is no great shakes as a vocalist, but he's pleasantly unassuming and gets by on his duet with Verdon.

    GWEN VERDON lights up the screen whenever she goes into one of her routines, and her "Whatever Lola Wants" is worth the price of admission alone. RAY WALSTON has a devilish time in his rib-tickling role and it's all easy to take as a merry mixture of music and comedy.

    The only drawback is that its stage origins are immediately apparent and there's a certain static quality about some of the scenes. But overall, George Abbott and Stanley Donen keep it fresh and lively whenever the music takes center stage.
  • wafstet15 September 2005
    Warning: Spoilers
    In spite of the fact that this movie is nearly 50 years old, I think the story is one that is a classic tale... good vs evil.

    A man past his prime wants to see his beloved Washington Senators (I wonder whatever happened to them?) beat those Damn Yankees! I can understand that, I'm from Seattle... we always want to see the Mariners beat them, even though many former Mariners now play for the Yankees..)

    Joe is overheard by the devil saying he would sell his soul to see the Senators beat the Yankees. The devil, Mr. Applegate, makes Joe an offer that he just can't refuse.

    The music of this show is some of my favorite; "Goodbye Old Girl", "You Gotta Have Heart", and "Two Lost Souls".

    This is one show that I will go and see on stage. We did a production of Damn Yankees when I was in high school... never mind how long ago that was. A friend of mine who is in community theater played Rocky in their production.

    So what the heck's the use of cryin'? Why should we curse? We've got to get better...... ....'cause we can't get worse!

    But the best stage production of this play was at the Paramount Theater in Seattle, where Jerry Lewis stole the show as Mr. Applegate. Now when I watch the movie with Ray Walston in that role, I can't help but think of Lewis' rendition.

    As long as baseball is the national past time, this is a movie that is a winner... no matter who wins the game.
  • dfree3068428 February 2005
    Just viewed DAMN YANKEES on DVD for 1st time in years...i saw it first on TV in the late sixties as a young teen. Gwen Verdon made an impact then and still does.

    Since all movies become dated and therefore flawed, i won't dwell on how time has affected it. It's still fun! Most of the musical numbers still ring true and i like the fact that everyone does their on singing...you're looking for an emotion to be conveyed (the weakest points of say WEST SIDE STORY are hearing dubbed in voices for Tony and Maria's songs). It's a true musical, i was keeping track of the timer as i watched, there's a song every 8 minutes or so.

    All the performances are fine...there are a few points to the Joe Hardy/Boyd character i'll bring up. First, after he disappears...how come he doesn't at least write to his beloved wife...at least let her know he's okay? Secondly...since she's certainly not elderly, and Joe stays as a boarder to be near her, how come he never feels anything romantic for her? it'd been interesting if he had...

    It's still breezy, mindless entertainment...fun to watch the Mick take those massive swings in a cameo, great to hear some of the Devil, Mr. Applegate's quips (he's curiously bumbling...we assume that he suffers some for being in human form...and Ray Walston does look like a not to be trusted used car salesman). One reviewer here, wasn't quite sold on Gwen Verdon as a seductress...but as she coyly strips during her WHATEVER LOLA WANTS, LOLA GETS number, the end result, her standing in a black tutu, flashing her glamorous gams...i, for one would be ready to follow her, anywhere.
  • If nothing else, this film version of the hit Broadway play allows viewers to see some of what made Verdon famous. Unfortunately, there isn't a great deal else that's memorable. When retiree Shafer has had his fill of the poorly-playing Washington Senators baseball team, he sells his soul to the Devil (who comes to earth in the human form of Walston) and transforms into a young, super-hitter (Hunter) who can help them win the pennant. He's bright enough to insert an "out clause" in his agreement, so Walston brings up temptress Verdon to make sure he doesn't take that opportunity when the time comes. Meanwhile, Shafer's wife frets over where he's gone, kept company by a pair of flighty sisters who keep their noses firmly planted in everything. In translating this to film (utilizing a larger number than usual of the original cast), the directors somehow managed to dull things down and give the film an aura of stagnation when it ought to be bursting with energy and vitality. Shafer's (purposefully?) drab house, with the planet's ugliest wallpaper, always looks just like a set. Ditto Walston's sparsely furnished lair. The locker room is nearly always filmed from the same angle, as it would have been seen from a theatre audience. Hunter is drop-dead gorgeous with a deep tan, cropped blonde hair and a charming. boyish grin. He is given very little to do, though. He hardly sings, tries to hold his own briefly in a group dance number, and (most dastardly of all) remains fully clothed while other, uglier baseball players take their shirts off or parade in a towel! Even Walston shows more skin than Hunter! Walston puts a lot of details and thought into his, by now, familiar role, but never really comes alive as much as one would like. It's difficult to believe that the Devil would choose this face and body to inhabit on earth. He also has remarkable trouble getting around (taxis?) Verdon (who doesn't even get to show her face until 45 minutes in) is remarkably vivid and captivating with several strong dance numbers. However, she looks far older than her 33 years (sometimes resembling an aged Greer Garson!) and has a surprising lack of chemistry with both Hunter and Walston. Only an idiot would say she's wrong for the part, but she may have been wrong for the film version. Attractive as she is, she just isn't the type of looker that would lure men to their doom. Other cast members include an authentically leathery Linville as the crusty baseball coach, Bolin as Shafer's drab wife, Allen as a loudmouthed reporter and Stapleton doing a head start on her Edith characterization from "All in the Family" and sporting what may be the ugliest hairdo in cinema history. There are a couple of numbers that stand out. One on a baseball field has inventive choreography with lots of dust getting kicked up. Verdon and choreographer (and future husband) Bob Fosse go for it in a variety show mambo. There's also a nightclub sequence with lots of the signature Fosse tableaux and moves. It's interesting to see his style developing and note the roots of his later, even more challenging, work. No one in the film can carry a tune particularly well. Vibrato is unheard of as various singers attempt to hold their shaky notes. Allen sings her entire song under the notes. So many times, viewers complain about films not being faithful to the source musical, but in this case, some more Hollywood tweaking may have helped! Sadly, a lot of gimmicky bits that may have been funny or new in 1958 are rather tiresome now, though it is amusing to see Walston put in coin after coin after coin into a pay phone in order to call Hell.
  • "Damn Yankees" is not a musical I'm particularly fond of. It's all American pervasiveness what with the baseball milieu and the ever reliable good vs. evil theme seems somewhat calculated. Apart from two or three pleasant songs, the score is not really of much interest. Still, it certainly could have fared better on the screen, despite some of the legendary talents involved.

    Hollywood has often wrestled with the decision whether or not to cast original Broadway stars in screen adaptations of hit musicals. It's not an always an easy choice. There's an apparent unfairness in overlooking those who contributed so much to a musical's success. But the studios have more often than not been right in their choices. Sensational stage stars are not always as magical on screen. The most controversial case was of course Audrey Hepburn chosen over Julie Andrews for "My Fair Lady", which in retrospect, seems to me to have been a smart choice.

    Gwen Verdon's status as a stage performer is legendary. While we should be grateful for "Damn Yankees" in allowing us an opportunity to witness Verdon's talents; on screen there's much lacking. My immediate impression was that she was too old for the role. I was stunned to find out she was only 33 at the time. Despite the sexy moves, it's a little hard to swallow her so called seductive powers. Verdon would come into her own on the screen in her latter years. As intriguing as it is to imagine a screen version of "Chicago" with Verdon and Chita Rivera reprising their original roles, one cannot help but wonder how kind the big screen would have been to them.

    At the time there was apparently opposition in the casting of Tab Hunter who it was hoped would lure teenage audiences. Co-director Stanley Donen is quoted as calling Hunter a triple threat; can't sing, can't dance, can't act. While he was not much of a dancer, he turned in a convincing and touching performance and certainly was physically perfect for the part. As to his vocals, they are in no way inferior to the others on display. Verdon has an attractive rasp, but the others are uniformly mediocre.

    There are a couple of enjoyable dance sequences, but at this point, Bob Fosse was still early in his career and his choreography is nowhere as inventive as his later works.

    There are many points of interest especially for fans of the musical, but "Damn Yankees" remains ultimately a second rate screen musical.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Forgotten, but undeservedly so,"Damn Yankees"-- as I always think of it -- is a peppy musical based on the Faustian legend in which the Devils' Advocate (Ray Walston) and his temptress assistant Lola (Gwen Verdon) persuade an ageing baseball fan to sell his soul to become Tab Hunter,baseball-player extraordinaire. But there's a problem; he allows his victim an escape clause....

    It's a strong storyline, then, and nicely realised, which is a good thing as the musical numbers are rather thrown in as if the songwriters had been given the screenplay and asked to fit in whatever songs they could manage wherever they could fit them, and to give everybody a turn, whether or not it advanced the story or just stopped it dead.

    But the score is a fine one, the Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon dance routines are stunning (even if totally superfluous) and the film as a whole is very much worth a couple of hours of relax time.....
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It may well have been the Devil's cleverest trick to have persuaded us that he does not exist,but it is a relatively recent one.Even 50 years ago when "Whatever Lola wants" was released the concept of an anti - Christ was widely accepted in the West and the possibility of entering into a diabolical bargain for earthly riches and success was not considered seriously - "get thee behind me,Satan",as my Auntie Edie used to say.Now,it appears,almost everybody will do anything to be rich and famous and looking at the richest and most famous of them all it is hard to discern any particular talent or merit they might possess. Accordingly,Faustian compacts may have been entered wholesale thus assuring the Devil an endless supply of souls like Joe Hardy whose relatively harmless vice was the Great American Game. Portrayed by Mr R.Walston as an earthly form with a certain raffish charm and an All-American name "Mr Applegate",the Devil is a" can do" kind of guy.His assistant - Lola - played by Miss G.Verdon is the epitome of feminine seductiveness employed to keep Joe in line. As a Brit to whom baseball is little more than a more butch version of the rather girlie game of rounders the back story and plot of the movie have little cultural significance.It's significance to me is purely based on its merits as a musical - and they are considerable.Certainly Miss Verdon got me very hot under the collar as an 18 year old,and Mr Walston made me laugh a lot.Mr Tab Hunter was very good - looking and had already been in the "Top Twenty" in the U.K. with "Young Love",so it had a whole lot going for it.I had a 78 of "Heart" by the Four Aces and my friends and I had a lot of fun copying the harmony parts so it would be fair to say that I was quite involved in the whole "Whatever Lola wants" experience.Time,sadly,has not been very kind either to me or the movie,and,when I saw it recently only "Heart" moved me as it had done originally,the other songs - although remaining clever - lacked much substance and only the dancing of the wonderful Miss Verdon raised the level to that I remembered .Nevertheless it remains a nostalgic favourite,and a movie with "Heart" - in both meanings.
  • MartinHafer15 November 2013
    Perhaps I liked this film a bit more than a lot of folks because I grew up cheering for the hapless Washington Senators--a team that hadn't been in the World Series since 1933 (and they lost!). All I know is that I enjoyed the film.

    The film begins with middle-aged Joe Boyd doing what he loves most--watching his beloved Senators on television. Like any Senators fan, he's miserable because, as usual, the team's losing and they haven't a prayer. Out of frustration, Joe blurts out that he'd sell his soul if the team could win the American League pennant. And, just like that, the Devil (Ray Walston) appears and offers him just that. He'll make Joe the greatest player in history for only a minor price...his soul! But Joe is too smart to just agree to this and negotiates an escape clause--a clause his new friend has no intention of honoring. Although Joe (now called Joe Hardy and is played by Tab Hunter) IS a sensation and the team does seem destined to win it all, this is when the dirty tricks begin--and the first dirty trick is Lola (Gwen Verdon)--a vamp who will destroy him. Can Joe survive with his soul intact and/or the team win it all?

    The plot of this musical is a reworking of the old Faust story (by the likes of Marlow and Goethe). And, if you're familiar with these tales, you might anticipate how it all ends. Regardless, the film is a lot of fun with a silly and enjoyable performance by Walston (who not once is referred to as Satan--just Mr. Applegate). The musical numbers are mostly very good, though several of the singers really could not sing--and is a bit reminiscent of "Paint Your Wagon" in that department. While most of the songs are great, "Who's Got the Pain" is irrelevant to the plot--completely irrelevant. "Two Lost Sheep" is not as irrelevant but a bit weak. Better songs are "Whatever Lola Wants" and "A Little Brains, A Little Talent" (both by Gwen Verdon). Overall, a very enjoyable film that kept me entertained from start to finish. Not great but very good.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    ***SPOILERS*** ***SPOILERS*** I hadn't seen this film in many years, but when I borrowed the music cd from the library I enjoyed it so much I ran back for the movie. Couple of comments I'd like to share with other users. A few have noted that "The Game" was cut from the movie. But the music from "The Game" IS used as background score in the overture and one or two other scenes. And I do seem to remember this number so I suspect that the previous message poster was right - there is a print out there that includes it. Also, Bob Fosse's work is so distinctive throughout the movie but especially in "Two Lost Souls." I thought, Wow, this looks EXACTLY like another Broadway number of his: "Gotta Lotta Livin' To Do," from "Bye Bye Birdie." But I was extremely surprised when I looke it up to learn that Gower Champion, not Fosse, choreographed "Birdie!" Compare these two dance numbers!

    Back to the film, I found it very entertaining, sung along with all the numbers...but what a flat ending! (SPOILER AHEAD) There was a great opportunity to build suspense that was completely wasted! No scenes of Applegate racing back to the stadium as the game draws to a close. And when Applegate arrives and changes Joe back to his old self as he's running to catch a fly ball, there is no indication that this is the last out to enable the Senators to win the pennant! Where was the announcer to set this up? No music either. Joe runs home, hugs wife, THE END. Very abrupt finish. This film deserved better!
  • This musical is splendid. A lot of great songs and dancing. The ballets are realy spectacular. Bob Fosse knows how to choreograph and Stanley Donen knowns how to film them. Tab Hunter is refreshing and Gwen Verdon sexy. The story is entertaining and crisp. The film is one of the best musicals I saw.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Turn the clock back 54 years, to 1958. Dwight Eisenhower is President, and the Yankees have hitter Mickey Mantle, pitcher Whitey Ford and catcher Yogi Berra. If anyone has made a pact with the devil, to some it would seem to be these immortal Yankees. There are only eight teams to a MLB league, so the dominant Yankees can certainly frustrate other American League fans.

    In the 1950s, musicals, movies and TV shows could be a bit silly and escapist, and Damn Yankees! is consistent with this genre. To those who say the acting is not realistic, remember this is a musical, and the storyline is hardly realistic, so it is natural to twist the realism dial pretty far from plumb. Aside from Rodgers & Hammerstein, that's the way most musicals were made.

    The core theme is what makes this so appealing: An aging man who dreamt of playing major league baseball gets his chance, along with the opportunity to best the hated Yankees. Add in the classic pact with the devil plot, which, while some here point to the Faust legend and Goethe, also has its American roots in Washington Irving's "The Devil and Tom Walker," and Stephen Vincent Benét's "The Devil and Daniel Webster," which employs a sort of escape clause. From a more modern perspective, we see echoes in "The Natural," and the sadly realistic pact with illegal steroids. So the storyline is strong.

    As to the choice of Gwen Verdon, who was 33 years old at the time, and on our digital versions and by today's standards looks even older, all I can say is she looked pretty good to me when I was a kid watching on an old TV. Perhaps they didn't want to overdo the sexual aspect with someone truly hot, as this was the 1950s and intended as family fare. After all, Joe does give up baseball and Lola to go back home to his old wife in the end. A modern viewer expects more sexual tension here, and in a scorcher remake might not be surprised to see Joe stick with his Lola.

    Perhaps the most interesting performance, retrospectively, is the introduction of Edith Bunker, I mean Jean Stapleton. What a character! Gwen Verdon resurfaces as a surprisingly hot dance therapist in a senior citizen's home in Cocoon. Ray Walston and Russ Brown also appeared together in the 1958 musical "South Pacific."

    The most artistic performance is the mambo with Verdon and Bob Fosse. It hearkens back three decades to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers numbers, while having a modern twist. However, it has no real connection to the story. The rest of the choreography is weak. Compare the singing-dancing baseball players here to those in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

    I don't know what viewers expect from the music, but this was above average for the 50s, rising above most mechanical Broadway musical fare. I think there are some memorable numbers here. But this was a different musical era. And it's not The Music Man or The Sound of Music.

    Clearly, some modern viewers are not going to like this movie because of the corny acting. But if you like old musicals or old TV shows, or are a baseball fan, Damn Yankees! is worth seeing. Just don't look at it too critically.
  • the late 50's was a weird yet interesting time for the musical film genre. after 25 years musicals hadn't really advanced very much. and this is apparent in damn yankees. there are some excellent fosse dance numbers, and gwen verdon is great, and the guy who plays the devil (cant remember his name) is great too. Jean stapleton (edith in "all in the family") is awesome. Its just the jokes are too far and few between and i sometimes get the feeling that the main actors would rather be elsewhere and are in their own different movie. There aren't enough show stopper dance numbers and the ones they have are just half way there..'whatever lola wants number' just doesn't do it all the way but the drunken club number at the end is pretty cool in a tongue and cheek sorta way. But the best number by far is Gwen Verdon and Fosse doing the mambo number. That is HOT!! But on the whole, the film just feels like it's over itself..been there done that..and if you're a purveyor of musicals, you'll have the same feeling as well.
An error has occured. Please try again.