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Warner Home Video presents
The Pajama Game (1957)

"Hey there, you with the stars in your eyes,
Love never made a fool of you,
You used to be too wise."

- Katie "Babe" Williams (Doris Day), singing the movie's signature ballad

Review By: David Krauss   
Published: April 26, 2005

Stars: Doris Day, John Raitt, Carol Haney, Eddie Foy, Jr.
Other Stars: Reta Shaw, Barbara Nichols
Director: George Abbott and Stanley Donen

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:40m:43s
Release Date: April 26, 2005
UPC: 012569683471
Genre: musical


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B-B+B C+

DVD Review

Seven-and-a-half cents. It's odd to think an entire musical could revolve around such a pittance, but The Pajama Game makes those few pennies the crux of its conflict. The laborers at the Sleeptite Pajama Factory feel a seven-and-a-half-cent hourly raise would make them competitive with other industry workers and improve company morale, yet when their fair-minded demand meets resistance from company bigwigs Vernon Hines (Eddie Foy, Jr.) and Myron Hasler (Ralph Dunn), as well as newly hired superintendent Sid Sorokin (John Raitt), they launch their formidable Grievance Committee into action. The no-nonsense Katie "Babe" Williams (Doris Day) heads up the confrontational group and tries to broker a deal. But Babe doesn't count on falling in love with Sid (and vice versa), and though the couple tries to divorce their adversarial work relationship from their after-hours affair, they soon realize oil and water is easier to mix than business and romance.

An energetic, tuneful, but ultimately thin adaptation of the long-running Broadway hit, The Pajama Game features a host of memorable songs and a sparkling performance by the always adorable Day. Still, this George Abbott-Stanley Donen collaboration never quite captures our fancy like we hope it will, as the featherweight plot merely strings together the bouncy musical sequences while paying lip service to the story's more weighty labor-vs.-management elements. I know, I know, this isn't supposed to be a musical version of Norma Rae, but a dash more substance would better frame the songs and make the love story more involving.

The hit-filled score, however, labors hard to cover any plot deficiencies. Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, who also penned the songs for the enormously popular Damn Yankees, supply such standards as the melodic Hey There, jubilant Once-a-Year Day, defiant I'm Not at All in Love, exotic Hernando's Hideaway, and infectious Steam Heat. They're all performed with plenty of showmanship, and though the latter number is little more than a novelty, the choreography by Bob Fosse makes it a showstopper. Fosse, who cut his teeth on the original stage production and shows off his more mature chops here, puts his inimitable stamp on all the dances, often showcasing the versatile Carol Haney, who plays Babe's pal and colleague, the raspy-voiced Gladys Hotchkiss (a role that won her a Tony Award on Broadway). Musical buffs undoubtedly remember Haney's sexy partnership with Fosse in the From This Moment On finale from Kiss Me Kate, and she's the perfect conduit for the choreographer's stylized moves.

Day, of course, sticks to vocals, and performs with her customary verve and richness. Whether belting full throttle or caressing the lyrics of the lilting Hey There, she makes every song her own, and infuses the headstrong Babe with a hefty dose of spunk. Raitt, another Broadway import in his only film appearance, shows his leading man potential, and nicely blends his robust baritone with Day's mellifluous alto. Although at times slightly stiff and theatrical, Raitt exudes confidence and an understated machismo, and it's a shame Hollywood never developed his movie career.

Aside from the cast's singing and dancing talents, the musical scenes—especially the high-spirited Once-a-Year Day—benefit from a mobile camera that allows the audience to feel a part of the numbers. Directors Abbott (who co-wrote the original book and screenplay) and Donen (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) nicely open up the show, but still maintain its Broadway feel, and keep the musical moving despite its slim story.

I loved The Pajama Game when I first saw it as a teen 25 years ago, but it didn't live up to my memories this time around. Day is still delightful and the actors sell the lively score, but the story concentrates too heavily on secondary characters and craves more meat and emotion. Such are the pitfalls of whittling down a full-fledged Broadway musical to 100 minutes, and as a result, The Pajama Game often feels like a truncated TV adaptation instead of a lavish, big-screen production.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Remastered from restored elements, The Pajama Game transfer improves as it progresses. At the start, an overabundance of grain and a few blotches and nicks afflict the image, but the picture soon stabilizes, allowing us to enjoy the disc's full range of color. Hues are rich and well saturated, lending the movie a lush look that belies its factory setting, and although the picture looks a bit softer than most Warner classic transfers, the widescreen anamorphic treatment still possesses good clarity, natural fleshtones, and fine shadow detail. Without a doubt, The Pajama Game has never looked better, but unfortunately the wow factor just isn't there.

A pan-and-scan version of the film is included on the disc's flip side.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: It's too bad Warner couldn't fashion a 5.1 remix, for The Pajama Game begs for multi-channel audio. The included mono track sounds a bit hollow and requires a hefty volume boost to achieve the necessary fidelity, but once the levels are properly adjusted, the music enjoys good presence and tonal depth. Dialogue is always clear and comprehendible, and no distortion or surface defects muddy the track.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 29 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Deleted Scenes
Production Notes
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Cast and crew listing
Extras Review: In addition to the film's original theatrical trailer and a listing of cast and crew, the major extra is a deleted song, The Man Who Invented Love. The only number written expressly for the musical's film version, the song was dropped in favor of a reprise of Hey There. Day, however, puts her heart and soul into the tune, and the rare outtake will surely thrill the star's legion of fans.

Finally, brief production notes provide some facts about the musical's Broadway run (during which Carol Haney's understudy, Shirley MacLaine, was discovered), and disclose that the Adler/Ross songwriting partnership abruptly ended in 1955 with Ross' death from a chronic respiratory ailment at age 29.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

Like a comfy pair of PJs, The Pajama Game is cozy entertainment, filled with a host of sprightly tunes, a killer ballad, and the always sunny Doris Day. This popular '50s musical seems a bit thin today, but remains a pleasant diversion, especially for fans of the genre and the film's leading lady.

 


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