"Married life is lots of fun. Two can sleep as cheap as one!"
- Film Tagline
"Doris Day takes the Tony award-winning Broadway smash, "The Pajama Game",
and transforms it into one of her most memorable screen hits."
"Babe" Williams, (Doris Day), head of the grievance committee, confronts Sid Sorokin (John Raitt), the handsome new factory superintendent, over a complaint about him having pushed an employee. Below, Babe insists that she's 'not at all in love' to her sceptical co-workers.
30 August 1957
"The Pajama Game"; Stage Hit Re-Created as Tuneful Film"
IF EVER A MUSICAL COMEDY HAS BEEN PLUCKED OFF THE BROADWAY STAGE AND RE-CREATED AS A MOVIE with scarcely a passage or a principal performer changed, it is George Abbott's and Stanley Donen's production of "The Pajama Game," which swept like a pack of noisy pickets into the Music Hall yesterday.
Virtually everything in it, with the major exception of Doris Day, who plays the role of the heroine instead of Janis Paige, is substantially as it was in Mr. Abbott's and Richard Bissell's original Broadway show, even down to Carol Haney getting pickled in Hernando's Hideaway.
There is John Raitt playing and singing the remarkably virile role of the hard-hitting superintendent of the pajama factory in Dubuque, Iowa. There is Eddie Foy Jr. reproducing the time-control manager, Hines, and Reta Shaw as big as life (and that's big!) as the office secretary. Ralph Dunn is still here as the president ("Production must increase, costs must go down"), Thelma Pelish is Mae, the porky seamstress, and Miss Haney is - well, she's still just grand.
As for the boy-meets-union story - or rather, boy-meets-union girl - it is not changed a jot or a tittle from Mr. Bissell's original draft from his own book about love and labor in a pajama factory, "7½ Cents." The new superintendent still has his troubles getting a unionized plant to work and getting Babe, of the grievance committee, to abandon her grievances. The music to melodize these didoes is likewise fresh off the stage.
Day replaced Janis Paige to give the film version 'box-office appeal' - Carol Haney became 3rd lead.
Now, is that good? The answer is simple: It's as good as it was on the stage, which was quite good enough for many thousand happy customers over a period of a couple of years. It is fresh, funny, lively and tuneful. Indeed, in certain respects - such as when they all go on the factory picnic - it is even more lively than it was on the stage.
In this situation, for instance, Miss Haney and a swarm of boys and girls do some jim-dandy leaping and whirling to the rollicking "Once-a-Year Day." Out of doors, in a colorful setting, they can cover more ground than on a stage. And a cute bit of cinema trickery has been used to introduce "Hernando's Hideaway."
But it must be said, too, that imitation has also imposed some restraints that make for a tangible rigidity within the frame of a musical film. There is an unmistakable routine to the alternation of dialogue and songs, of comedy scenes and production numbers, all of them coming on obvious cues. And some of the songs - for instance "Hey, There," as sung by Mr. Raitt - are staged as if the actors in "talking pictures" hadn't been freed from an immovable microphone.
However, the whole thing is splendid, the color is gay and strong and even Miss Day, the interloper, is right in the spirit of things, Her high point, we'd say, is when she couples with Mr. Raitt in "There Once Was a Man," that elastic hill-billy number that is one of the best in the show.
As for Mr. Raitt, he is refreshing because he looks natural and he has a voice. It would be nice now to see him in a more fluid musical film.
For the rest, there is "Steam Heat," with Miss Haney shuffling neatly with a couple of the boys, and there is the elaborate low-clowning and general "mugging" of Mr. Foy. True, they've dropped the Jealousy Ballet, which was so entertaining on the stage (maybe they thought it too dirty), but they haven't repressed Mr. Foy. When he takes off his pants to model the pajamas - well, that virtually stops the show.
This will give you an idea of the vitality of this film.
Doris Day sings "The Man Who Invented Love" - the re-discovered song
The story of "The Man Who Invented Love"
Richard Adler, songwriter for the songs for this play and movie wrote in his autobiography, "You Gotta have Heart", that his experiences with Doris Day were divine: "I was actually trembling as I approached the Warner Brothers lot on the first full morning of work. But once I was there, time seemed to collapse. It was home; it was natural; it was almost easy. The film was already deeply into pre-production; Mr Abbott was working with Stanley Donen, who would be co-directing the film; Bob Fosse was recreating the dances; the film was adhering very closely to the original.
"My task was to train the ensemble and Doris Day, who was playing the Janis Paige role. A mass of freckles and beauty and good spirits, she was a genuinely sweet person, and a joy to work with. She had an agile mind, and a sure musical sense, and teaching the songs to her was a breeze.
"It was so natural that a couple of day into rehearsal, I thought why not give her a new song, one I'd write myself? It would help her, help me, and possibly help my future. So, I sat down with my tape recorder and then with a musical secretary, and wrote a ballad for her called 'The Man Who Invented Love.' She loved it. It lay in her range, it had nice lyrics and what was most important, it was right for both her and the character. I played it for Mr. Abbott and Stanley Donen, and they liked it, too. It was a sure bet for the film, a breakthrough for me. My career was slowly re-engaging its gears.
What I didn't know at the time, nor did anyone else, was the ultimate fate of the song. It would never be heard. It would end up on the proverbial cutting room floor." Now, what Mr. Adler didn't know is that when the DVD version of "The Pajama Game" was released, this "lost" number was included as an "extra" feature, and it is lovely indeed! It WAS finally rescued from the cutting room floor. - Derald Hendry
"There are two musical highlights that make the film. The first occurs at the annual company picnic as the company gathers for a day of fun ("Once-A-Year-Day"). Choreographer Bob Fosse, on one of his first films, showcases his burgeoning talent with a large-scale number. Set in a huge park, several dancers swing, flip, climb and race through green grass, up trees and over hills dressed in colourful outfits. The use of space and planes with complicated blocking makes it one of the visually spectacular songs in the film. And it's the moment when Sid and Babe finally fall in love."
"The second musical highlight is "Steam Heat", above, a number where Fosse's signature moves are clearly displayed. Gladys (Carol Haney), flanked by two dancers, are dressed in black and white. Small controlled movements give way to a dramatic slide across the stage. Top hats become part of the dance as they're flipped, thrown and caught in time to the catchy music. Carol Haney is light on her feet and quick with her movements. Sound effects, fresh choreography and energy make this a thoroughly entertaining musical number. Even though it doesn't serve a purpose to the plot, the song is one of the truly memorable moments in the film." - Wildsound Filmmaking
During the filming, dancer Carol Haney became very ill. Doris Day saw Haney brooding on the set and had a short conversation with her. Moments later, Day quietly walked to the middle of the soundstage and said, "Could I please have everyone's attention? - Unless somebody takes this lady to the hospital right this minute, I am going to walk off this picture. Either she goes to a hospital or I go. Thank you".
Director Stanley Donen made a financial deal with studio head Jack Warner to finish the film as far ahead of schedule as possible. This highly energized pace proved to be difficult for one and all. In the hospital, it was discovered that Haney was diabetic. So in a very real sense, Day saved Haney's life. "She totally became our hero for doing that", dancer Harvey Evans recalled. "Even (choreographer) Bob Fosse wasn't standing up for us, as we were being pushed and shoved and rushed through everything." - Howard Green
HERNANDO'S HIDEAWAY SCENE
I've learned my lesson Mabel, I'll never be jealous again.
You stick to that now
Now that's easier said than done.
I can do it
I knew it - but lets take an example, just for fun
At first, after viewing his screen test, Doris Day wasn't sure about having John Raitt as her leading man. She suggested Howard Keel, Gordon MacRae or Dean Martin as possibilities to portray the role of Sid Sorokin. The producers, however, were determined to keep Raitt in the film and flew him out to California to make a screen test with Day. The screen test was a success and Doris was won over - but, sadly, "The Pajame Game" became Raitt's only leading film role. - Howard Green
"Doris Day sang "Hey There" live during filming. She felt that it wouldn't look real to play the heart-breaking scene while lip-synching to a prerecording. Dramatically speaking, a live performance was more believable". - Howard Green
"Stanley Donen is surely the master (major or minor) of the musical. 'The Pajama Game' exists to prove it ... it is the first left-wing operetta, quite skillfully filmed ... from this point of view 'The Pajama Game' is enormously successful. More so than 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers' because it goes further in wild comedy. More so than 'Funny Face' too ... All the Sabrinas in the world are not worth one Doris Day.'" - Film-maker Jean-Luc Godard
"With zip and zest and a proper, precise knowledge of what a musical comedy is intended to be, George Abbot and Stanley Donen have staged the best one of the year for Warners. It is called "The Pajama Game," and a game is what it is, a romp, a lark, a frolic, a spree of singing, dancing, humor and romance, a triumph in every department ... Miss Day, freckled, short blonde locks and all, is as pretty as a Fourth of July picnic and as spirited, whether belting out "There Once Was a Man" or sweetlly crooning "Hey There." - Hollywood Reporter
"Doris just jumped in and just fit with everybody, and that was difficult because we all had been together for at least a year," recalled John Raitt. "She brought all of the qualities that we all love in her to that role."
Gary Giddins, long recognized as America's most brilliant jazz writer described Doris Day as "the coolest and sexiest female singer of slow-ballads in movie history". The soundtrack LP, released by Columbia Records, vaulted to ninth position among "Billboard"'s popular albums.
Janis Paige and Doris Day have more in common than meets the eye. Ms Day won her first movie role in the Warner's musical, "Romance on the High Seas", as Georgia Garret, a part Ms Paige had wanted, although they were both in the film. In "The Pajama Game," Day portrays the role of "Babe" Williams, a part Ms Paige had originated on Broadway. It seems that there were no hard feelings, however, as Janis Paige appeared with Day in the 1960 comedy success, "Please Don't Eat the Daisies". - Howard Green
Director Stanley Donen said: "I wanted the original cast to do it. But Doris was wonderful: energetic and lovable. It's the best thing she's ever done. I also liked Janis (Paige), who was something quite different. She was made of iron in that part. Had you been able to see her in a movie close-up, she would have been so tough that you wouldn't have been able to love her, to think she was vulnerable. - Garry Mcgee, "Doris Day Sentimental Journey"
If you've ever wondered why The Pajama Game isn't shown on TV - although it has been in the UK - Warner Bros only have the 'Home Video Rights'. Although they own the film, Warners made an unfortunate deal on "The Pajama Game" and "Damn Yankees" where the underlying rights have to be renegotiated with the original owners of the stage musical source. The recent TV climate for old movies hasn't made it feasible to renew the films for that medium. - Howard Green
THE PAJAMA GAME TRAILER
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