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USA 1957
Directed by
George Abbott / Stanley Donen
101 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

The Pajama Game

The biggest musical hit of Broadway in 1954 The Pajama Game is the story of a pay dispute at a pajama factory and the romance between its managing superintendent (John Raitt) and its union rep (Doris Day). Whilst hardly compelling material, the film moves along at a smart, even at times, borderline frenetic, clip with brilliantly colourful set and costume design, impressive choreography by Bob Fosse and stirring songs by Richard Adler and Jerry Rosa, many of which, such as “I’ll Never Be Jealous Again” and "7½ Cents" (the title of the novel by Richard Bissell which was the source material for the book by he and Abbott) work well with the storyline. There are also some stand-alone numbers which have gone on to become standards including “Hernando’s Hideaway” and “Hey There”.

John Raitt is not the most charismatic of leads but he can sing, Carol Haney adds some dancing zest with her stand-out “Steam Heat” number and don’t be put off by the presence of Doris Day, the only main cast member not in the original Broadway production, in the lead. Although a good deal more polished than her boisterous turn in Calamity Jane (1953) she is a fine singer and her character is not yet the sanitized stereotype that she would come to be known as in the '60s. There is a running gag with Eddie Foy Jr. as a knife-throwing foreman that falls as flat as a pancake but overall there is more good than bad to be said of this now little-produced musical.

 

 

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