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Damn Yankees! (1958) Poster

(1958)

Trivia

Gwen Verdon was famous on Broadway for her hip movements, especially her bumps, as they were called, but in 1958, bumps such as these were not allowed in films, so her first number, "A Little Brains," contains odd static pauses where she had done her bumps on stage.
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The Mambo Dancer who dances with Gwen Verdon in "Who's Got the Pain" is Bob Fosse-- Fosse was the choreographer of this film (and choreographer-director of later films, such as Cabaret (1972). Verdon and Fosse got married in 1960.
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The actors had to sing along with a metronome because the musicians who would have accompanied them normally were on strike at the time.
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Right after the mambo number, as the male dancer (choreographer Bob Fosse) leaves the stage, the Joe Hardy character shakes the dancer's hand and says, "Great work, Fosse!"
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The first film of Jean Stapleton.
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The musical play "Damn Yankees" opened at the 46th Street Theater in New York City on May 5, 1955, and ran for 1,019 performances. Gwen Verdon, Ray Walston, Russ Brown, Jean Stapleton, Shannon Bolin, Nathaniel Frey, James Komack, Rae Allen, and Robert Shafer reprise their roles in the movie. "Damn Yankees" won the 1956 Tony Award (New York City) for Best Musical.
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The stadium used for filming was the old Wrigley Field minor-league park in South Los Angeles. It hosted Major League games for only one season, in 1961, when the new expansion Los Angeles Angels played there. The park was torn down in 1966.
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When casting the film Damn Yankees! (1958), the studio was initially interested in pursuing Cyd Charisse as Lola and Cary Grant as Applegate. In the end, Gwen Verdon won the right to recreate her stage role with Ray Walston, the devilish Applegate. Cyd was supposedly unavailable but later played the role on the legit stage.
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Jean Stapleton reprised her role as Sister Miller for another revival of the movie, in the 1970's and drew the attention of producer Norman Lear, who immediately auditioned her for the role that made her famous.
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"Damn Yankees" -- nominated in 1956 for nine 'Tony Awards', winning seven 'Tonys' -- is nearly a direct transfer to film of George Abbott's 1955 Broadway musical. The one major exception is Stephen Douglass, who originated the role of "Joe Hardy", replaced in the film by Tab Hunter. The Broadway producers Harold Prince, Robert Griffith and Frederick Brisson decided the lead actress for the Broadway part of "Lola" had to be a dancer. They offered the role to both movie actress Mitzi Gaynor and ballet dancer Zizi Jeanmaire, each of whom turned them down. Before the start of the Broadway production, Gwen Verdon had previously received raves for a solo performance in the musical "Pal Joey". Offered the role of Lola, Gwen Verdon turned it down, until Bob Fosse convinced her to reconsider. With the success of the Broadway musical, Jack Warner optioned It, with George Abbott and Stanley Donen sharing directorial credit. George Abbott wanted Don Murray for the "Joe Hardy" role, but Jack Warner insisted on Tab Hunter. Abbott fought with Jack Warner over his lead "Lola" role choice of Mitzi Gaynor or Marylin Monroe, wishing to keep Gwen Verdon and Ray Walston from the Broadway cast. The New York cast, during Burbank rehearsals, called Hunter by the name Gwen Verdon used, with a Brooklynesse accent, "Tabunter". Hunter found his role difficult because he was not in the original Broadway cast. George Abbott, during filming, asked Jack Warner to replace Tab Hunter because he felt Hunter lacked the necessary masculinity.
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Gwen Verdon won the Tony for Best Actress (Musical) in 1956 for "Damn Yankees!" for the role she recreated in the film version. Russ Brown won the 1956 Tony Award Best Featured Actor in a Musical and Rae Allen was nominated for the 1956 Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Musical and both roles were recreated in the movie version by the same actors.
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James Komack's first film.
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When the (1957) film was rehearsing the musical numbers, a film musician's union strike prevented pre-recording an orchestra musical sound-track score for and during any of the musical filming production numbers. The original RCA Victor Broadway LP vinyl orchestra show recordings were employed for rehearsing and filming. Finishing the filming, the vocal tracks were recorded without a studio union orchestra in a Warner Brothers Sound Department stage, forcing Jack Warner to go out of town to finish the movie. These vocal tracks were sent to Italy where a symphony orchestra recorded secondary under score tracks necessary to back-up and accompany the film's Hollywood vocal sound tracks. RCA Victor released the movie sound track in 1958. Although recorded in stereo, only the mono version was released.
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The Washington Nationals major league baseball team in the 2014 and 2015 seasons used footage of ballplayers dancing on top of the dugout from the number "Shoeless Joe from Hannibal Mo" in a video that was shown between innings on the big scoreboard in center field.
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The surviving theatrical trailer is of the British release print which was renamed "What Lola Wants!" rather than Damn Yankees! (1958)_ for UK release (although the original name was added parenthetically in smaller letters at the bottom of the screen).
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The first film of Shannon Bolin.
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Rae Allen's film debut.
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Tab Hunter was the only cast member who was not in the original stage production. According to his autobiography, when filming a particular scene, he suggested doing it in a way that differed from director George Abbott's ideas. When Hunter asked, "Can we just try it?" Abbott apparently said, "No, that's not the way we did it in the stage version!"
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The film leaves out two key ballads from the original score, "A Man Doesn't Know" and "Near to You," both sung by Joe Hardy to express his sorrow that his transformation from middle-aged real estate agent to young baseball star has cost him the love of his wife. Oddly, the film retains the original reprise of "A Man Doesn't Know" at the end, sung as a duet by Joe and Meg Boyd after Joe gets out of his deal with the Devil and they are reunited, so the audience is hearing a "reprise" of a song they haven't heard before.
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