Monday, 31 May 2010


Carol Haney in "Steam Heat"
Most of the classic musicals I've seen three or four times each but THE PAJAMA GAME only had one viewing - back in the 6o's on television and in black and white - and panned and scanned! No way to watch a movie. Seeing it on a friend's shelf I decided to give it another go. I'm glad I did. It's essentially a lightweight piece but none the worse for that. A new supervisor starts work in a pajama factory and falls in love with the head of the grievance committee. This brings workers and management together and a potentially ruinous strike for fair pay is avoided. The cast is particularly strong with Doris Day and John Raitt in the lead roles. Am I alone in thinking that back in the days when DD was making musicals - befor the Rock Hudson, Cary Grant years - she was one of the most drop-dead gorgeous women ever to grace the screen? John Raitt made few films, being essentially a Broadway star. His good looks and fine baritone voice are reasons to regret that he never ventured into the film world more often. Eddie Foy Jr. is outstanding as the factory foreman and his featured numbers are a joy. But, for me, the real star of the film is Carol Haney. Like Raitt she was not a big name in movies (she had been Gene Kelly's assistant choreograpger on SINGIN' IN THE RAIN) but was a legendary Broadway star and the great Bob Fosse's dancer of choice. Fosse is responsible for the choreography here and we get a great picnic number in "Once a Year Day" but nothing can beat "Steam Heat" which showcases Raney's dancing skills - and Fosse's style that would later flower on Broadway and in such movies as CABARET and CHICAGO. Raney effortlessly steals the film for me. Further down the cast is Barbara Nichols, one of the great Hollywood dumb blondes. Direction credit is shared by George Abbott (who directed on Broadway) and Stanley Donen. Rating ****

*A word of WARNING. I had to suffer this film on the Dynamic Films DVD. The transfer is absolutely appalling and I swear its slightly out of focus with color that looks like it is beginning to run. Do yourself a favour only watch it on the official Warner DVD or better still, do what I did, buy that version after watching the Dynamic version.

No comments: