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Damn Yankees! (1958)

Approved | | Comedy, Musical, Romance | 4 January 1959 (UK)
A frustrated fan of the hopeless Washington Senators makes a pact with the Devil to help the baseball team win the league pennant.

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(screenplay), (book) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
...
...
Russ Brown ...
Benny Van Buren
Shannon Bolin ...
Mrs. Meg Boyd
...
Smokey
...
Rocky
...
Gloria Thorpe
Robert Shafer ...
Joe Boyd
...
Sister Miller
Albert Linville ...
Vernon
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Roy Sievers ...
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Storyline

Film adaptation of the George Abbott Broadway musical about a Washington Senators fan who makes a pact with the Devil to help his baseball team win the league pennant. Written by Stewart M. Clamen <clamen@cs.cmu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It's a picture in a million! Starring that girl in a million, the red-headed darling of the Broadway show, Gwen Verdon! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

4 January 1959 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Lo que Lola quiere  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The first film of Shannon Bolin. See more »

Goofs

While hanging around backstage at a variety show to honor Joe, a female newspaper reporter hears an unsubstantiated rumor that he's actually a disgraced ball player who changed his name following a scandal. She immediately calls her editor and somehow an explosive front page story based on this flimsy evidence is written, published and delivered to the theater even before the show is over - an impossibility even in the unlikely event that the show (which was already in progress) ran three hours. See more »

Quotes

Meg Boyd: Is Washington winning dear?
Joe Boyd: Noooo. Those damn Yankees.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Sports on the Silver Screen (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Shoeless Joe From Hannibal, Mo
Music by Richard Adler
Lyrics by Jerry Ross
Performed by Rae Allen and Baseball Players
See more »

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User Reviews

 
You Gotta Have Heart!
5 February 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

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.


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