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Sunday, 10 April 2016

On DVD - a look at Abbott & Donen's The Pajama Game, sixty years after a viewing at Hoyts Padua in Brunswick.

The Man Who Invented Love is an extra on the US DVD of The Pajama Game (directed by George Abbott & Stanley Donen, USA, 1957), one of two musicals made by the team  assembled by Abbott in the mid-50s. On the Broadway stageThe Pajama Game  was co-directed by Jerome Robbins, the music and lyrics were by  Richard Adler & Jerry Ross and the choreography was by Bob Fosse. Most of the Broadway cast were put into the film though Doris Day replaced Janis Paige in the lead. (The other musical made by most of this team  was Damn Yankees (1958) and again Stanley Donen was brought in to co-direct the movie version.)

The deleted number, written especially for the movie, is done in two shots. It was left out in favour of a reprise of the hit ‘Hey There’, already sung in the movie by male lead John Raitt. Doris nails it in a single shot. Someone should have shown it to the Coen Bros before they did that all over the shop sailor boys number in Hail Caesar.  

Thje Pajama Game is a wonderful movie notwithstanding that John Raitt over plays the male lead and comes across as most unsympathetic. Speed of production might have been of the essence and what Raitt did on the Broadway stage is far too emphatic. His lines are far too heavily enunciated. You know he's the male lead and has a certain handsome look but hard to believe he swept the always sensible Doris off her feet. Never mind. Perhaps Hollywood saw him that way too. His career was almost entirely confined to playing leads on Broadway and much work on TV.

The incidental joys include one fabulous number with Bob Fosse-isms all over it. It’s the  Steam Heat sequence featuring the elfin looking Carol Haney and two male dancers. It requires near perfection in the drill,  much waving and twirling of hats and is covered by fourteen shots over the course of its four plus minutes. That plus the Hernando's Hideaway number are a sign of many geniuses at work.

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