The Damn Yankees team, which ran the score high for three seasons in Broadway’s legit ballpark, was reassembled to go to bat in this sparkling film version. Sole ‘newcomers’ in the trek from Broadway to Burbank are Stanley Donen, who co-produced and co-directed, and Tab Hunter, who stars.
Story, based on the Faust legend and Douglass Wallop’s novel, The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant, revolves around a Washington Senator fan who would give his soul for a long-ball hitter and a chance to beat the New York Yankees. Given his chance by the devil himself, the fan is wooshed into a 22-year-old who proceeds to become the national hero of the national pastime in the national capital, thus giving the Senators a pennant and the Yankees a bad name.
Gwen Verdon makes a sprightly 172-year-old witch who has been sumptuously embodied to stalk Tab Hunter. Ray Walston, with exaggerated widow’s peak and devilish red accessories, makes a perfect comedy Satan. Hunter [substituting for Broadway’s Stephen Douglass] is sympathetic as the young baseball great, confused by all that’s happening to him.
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Still held in prominence is the Richard Adler-Jerry Ross musical score – a tuneful, storytelling assortment of gag songs and ballads. Top production goes to ‘Two Lost Souls’ (a la ‘Hernando’s Hideaway’ from same pair’s Pajama Game) and ‘Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, Mo.’ ‘You’ve Gotta Have Heart’ remains a standout, with a seductive ‘Whatever Lola Wants’ and a fast-moving ‘Who’s Got the Pain’, danced with choreographer Bob Fosse, himself a fine hoofer.
1958: Nomination: Best Scoring of a Musical Picture