Damn Yankees (1958) - Rotten Tomatoes

Damn Yankees (1958)

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Movie Info

Damn Yankees is a frothy, faithful adaptation of the 1956 Broadway hit. In an amusing slant on the "Faust" legend, aging baseball fan Joe Boyd (Robert Schafer) is given an opportunity to lead his beloved Washington Senators to victory by a devilish gent named Applegate (Ray Walston). Boyd is transformed into handsome young "Shoeless" Joe Hardy from Hannibal, Mo. (and in the process, the part is taken over by Tab Hunter, who's better than everyone said he was back in 1958). Joe becomes the Senators' star player, but at the price of his immortal soul; he isn't terribly worried, however, since he's built an escape clause into his contract with Applegate. To see that Joe doesn't get a chance to exercise that clause, Applegate sends his luscious assistant Lola (Gwen Verdon) to seduce the ballplayer. This effort doesn't work, but Applegate still manages to cause Joe to lose his chance at salvation. But there is still a ray of hope--if Hardy can win the deciding pennant game, he'll be able to foil Applegate's master plan of causing the Senators to lose. With Lola's aid, Joe gives the devil more than his due. The principal selling angle of Damn Yankees, beyond the presence of Gwen Verdon and Ray Walston delightfully recreating their stage roles, are the wonderful Richard Adler/Jerry Ross songs, including "You've Gotta Have Heart" and "What Lola Wants, Lola Gets." Based on the novel The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant, the film (like the play before it) unfortunately throws away Wallop's wryly ironic climax; as a result, the last scenes appear rushed and haphazard. But why quibble? Damn Yankees is and always was a rock-solid piece of entertainment, as proven by its recent S.R.O. Broadway revival. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast

Tab Hunter
as Joe Hardy
Ray Walston
as Mr. Applegate
Russ Brown
as Benny Van Buren
Shannon Bolin
as Mrs. Meg Boyd
Rae Allen
as Gloria Thorpe
Robert Shafer
as Joe Boyd
Jean Stapleton
as Sister Miller
Bob Fosse
as Mambo Dancer
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Critic Reviews for Damn Yankees

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (5)

As a cinemusical, Yankees manages to steal home by a wide margin.

March 16, 2011 | Full Review…
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

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.

March 26, 2009 | Full Review…
Variety
Top Critic

A musical lumbered with too much plot.

January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Not the equal of Stanley Donen's parallel project, The Pajama Game, but a fine and vigorous film of the Broadway musical nonetheless.

January 10, 2004 | Full Review…
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Miss Verdon has the sort of fine, fresh talent that the screen badly needs these days.

May 20, 2003 | Full Review…
New York Times
Top Critic

The problem lies with Tab Hunter in the difficult leading role: to put it mildly, he lacks pizzazz. There's still a lot of fun to be gleaned, though: Gwen Verdon is a knockout as Lola, and Ray Walston is arguably the definitive movie Devil, Mr Applegate.

May 12, 2014 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
Radio Times

Audience Reviews for Damn Yankees

½

Deserves more attention for it's unflinching weirdness. Yeah, Tab Hunter is kind of a drag but Gwen Verdon and Ray Walston more than compensate for him.

Alec Barniskis
Alec Barniskis

Super Reviewer

Overbright, overdone version of the stage play. The upcoming remake can only be an improvement.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

½

Hi, my name is Walter and I hate the New York Yankees. [i]Hi Walter![/i] [i][color=red]Go back to Boston, you bum![/color][/i] [i][color=#ff0000][/color][/i] [color=black]Actually, I'm a Mets fan...but more on that later...[/color] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]"Damn Yankees" is a musical about a middle-aged fan named Joe who roots for his beloved Washington Senators every day during the baseball season much to the consternation of his loyal wife. He is frustrated by their lack of success until the devil(a very liverly Ray Walston) makes him an offer to turn him into the best baseball player ever, so he could help his favorite baseball team beat the hated Yankees.[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]I was entertained by "Damn Yankees"(otherwise known as the "Barry Bonds Story") but I was surprised that it had more to do with an old-fashioned view of marriage(and avoiding the temptations that could lead a husband down the wrong path) than it was about baseball. That having been said, the character of the female sports writer was definitely ahead of the time. Oh and I could not quite buy Gwen Verdon as the all-time seductress but she sure could dance.[/font][font=Century Gothic] [/font] [color=blue]Oh and the Mets won today 5-1.[/color]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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