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George Abbott, Stanley Donen
Tab Hunter, Gwen Verdon, Ray Walston
Writing Credits:
George Abbott

A frustrated fan of the hopeless Washington Senators makes a pact with the Devil to help the baseball team win the league pennant.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 111 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 3/16/2021

• Trailers


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Damn Yankees [Blu-Ray] (1958)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 4, 2021)

According to A League of Their Own, there’s no crying in baseball. However, apparently there is singing and dancing in baseball, as established by 1958’s Damn Yankees.

Middle-aged Washington Senators fan Joe Boyd (Robert Shafer) suffers through one losing season after another, usually due to the dominance of the New York Yankees. Fed up, Joe declares he would sell his soul to see the Senators acquire one “long ball hitter”.

This immediately leads to the presence of Applegate (Ray Walston), an incarnation of Satan. Applegate offers Joe an offer he can’t refuse: if Joe agrees, Applegate will restore Joe’s youth so he becomes the coveted “long ball hitter”.

Joe agrees, with one “out”: if he quits before the season’s final game, he keeps his soul. This turns him into Joe Hardy (Tab Hunter), a baseball phenom who immediately makes the Senators relevant – and who encounters plenty of temptation that Applegate puts in front of him to ensure Joe loses his soul, mainly via seductress Lola (Gwen Verdon).

As a kid in the 70s, I saw a lot of musicals because my Mom enjoyed them. These included a touring company of Yankees that included Vernon.

In her 50s by that point, Verdon perhaps may have been a little long in the tooth for sexpot Lola, but as I recall, she gave the role all the requisite va-va-voom. That said, I was nine years old, so what did I know?

I’ve not re-encountered Yankees since my youth, and that leaves me surprised how much of the story and music I remember. I’ve forgotten pretty much everything most of the shows I watched – like Hellzapoppin - but quite a lot of Yankees stuck.

Does this mean Yankees must be an exemplary example of musical theater? No – I wouldn’t call this a classic.

However, Yankees does offer a fun experience, and the baseball setting helps engage those of us who often shy away from musicals in general. The film comes with a fun story idea, and it uses the narrative in a lively manner.

A good cast helps. Hunter was never much of an actor, but he does fine as the wide-eyed Joe. Granted, he should probably give off more of a feel related to Joe’s status as a middle-aged guy, but nonetheless, Hunter holds up his end of the bargain.

Because Hunter gets the straight man role, he doesn’t need to do much more than look handsome anyway. Verdon and Walston carry the heaviest load, and they help succeed.

Walston brings wicked, sly energy to his devil, and Verdon offers all the seductive energy needed for Lola. She needs to portray a mix of moods and attitudes for Lola, and she pulls these off splendidly.

Throw in a little pathos related to Joe’s relationship with wife Meg (Shannon Bolin), some inventive production numbers choreographed by Bob Fosse and Yankees turns into a solid musical experience. Expect it to entertain and delight.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus D-

Damn Yankees appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer looked terrific.

Outside of a handful of opticals, the image gleamed. Only the slightest hint of ill-definition appeared, so we found a consistently detailed and accurate picture.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain felt light but natural, and the movie lacked print flaws.

Colors popped off the screen, as the film boasted a lively palette. The overall impression showed a nice mix of vivid hues.

Blacks seemed deep and rich, while shadows appeared concise and clear. I felt wholly pleased with this excellent presentation.

Inevitably, the film’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack impressed less, but it came across as more than competent given the flick’s age. Speech lacked edginess and seemed reasonably natural.

Music could’ve boasted better range, but the score and songs remained fairly well-reproduced. Though effects played a fairly small role, they seemed largely accurate, and they suffered from no obvious distortion. This became a perfectly solid track for a movie from 1958.

The disc includes two trailers - one US, one UK – but lacks any other extras.

A bright, fun musical, Damn Yankees becomes a vibrant experience. The movie enjoys a clever premise and gives us a thoroughly enjoyable mix of comedy, music and emotion. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals and solid audio but it lacks supplements. More than 60 years after its release, Yankees remains a quality film.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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