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Damn Yankees


For anyone that enjoyed last year's "Fosse" on FX, a deep dive into the lives of Gwen Verdon and Bob Fosse, 1958's huge box office smash DAMN YANKEES is even more enjoyable.

Arriving on screen from its huge Broadway success with nearly all of its cast and crew intact, it's an infectious, old-fashioned musical loaded with stars.

When a frustrated fan of Baseball's Washington Senators curses their rival Yankees yet again and says out loud that he'd sell his soul for the Senators to win a pennant, the devilish Mr. Applegate (Ray Walston) appears out of nowhere and grants his wish.

Suddenly, he's Joe Hardy, baseball star, able to hit countless home runs and immediately signed onto the Senators.

Applegate (a hilarious Ray Walston) has more than a few tricks up his sleeve to keep Joe under his spell, including the seductive Lola, played by the amazing Verdon in one of her best performances.

Tab Hunter was Hollywood casting for the film and probably its weakest link as young Joe, he's merely okay. Jean Stapleton made her hilarious debut here and was immediately on Norman Lear's radar. He cast her the following decade as Edith on "All in the Family". Fosse did all the choreography, also appearing in the duet "Whose Got the Pain" with Verdon.

A great baseball comedy and musical in one package, DAMN YANKEES had been a massive hit on stage and it's great to have the film version to preserve the cast and that time in America. It screams late 1950's.

'Whatever Lola Wants", "Six Months Out of Every Year" and "Two Lost Souls" are all a lot of fun.

Fosse's choreography arrives intact and shows the same emerging style that would later explode in "Chicago" and "Cabaret".

The music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross hold up just fine many decades later and the musical opened again on Broadway in 1995, where Tamara and I saw it with Jerry Lewis as Applegate.

Like "The Music Man" from the same era, its the musical for people that dont normally like musicals.

DAMN YANKEES is still plenty of fun over 60 years after its release and gets an enjoyable B.

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