Damn Yankees! (1958)

Article #900 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-1-2003
Posting Date: 1-29-2004
Directed by George Abbott and Stanley Donen
Featuring Tab Hunter, Ray Walston, Gwen Verdon

A fan of the Washington Senators sells his soul to the devil to become a star hitter for the team and win the pennant for them.

I’m not really keen on baseball, nor am I a particular fan of musicals, so I have to admit I didn’t really look forward to this one; certainly, the idea of selling my soul to the devil in order to make my favorite team win holds no resonance for me whatever. As a musical, it’s decent enough; the songs are good, and for the most part they actually do flesh out the narrative and the characters, and the primary exception is so well choreographed and performed that it works just as well. But the story ends up leaving me cold, and I think the reason for this is that Tab Hunter’s performance doesn’t make me really feel anything at all for his character. The other actors fare much better, particularly Verdon and Walston, though if the devil is this ineffectual our immortal souls are in no danger whatsoever. And the ending, where the story bends over backwards to give everyone but the devil a happy ending, feels rushed and is more than a little lame.

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