What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… The Pajama Game (1957)

Apparently, I’m going to just keep plugging along with Doris Day’s filmography this year, as we’ve got another one of her films! This time, it’s her 1957 musical The Pajama Game, also starring John Raitt. So let’s get through another short first, and then head on down to the stage to hear from our Host and Narrator!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Droopy’s Double Trouble (1951)

(Available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 6 seconds)

Droopy and his twin brother Drippy are tasked with taking care of a house (and keeping out strangers). Of course, Spike the dog (with an Irish accent, no less!) has to join in on the fun (as the “stranger” that they have to keep out). In general, the fun of this cartoon is in watching Spike deal with the constantly switching Droopy/Drippy and how they react to his presence. I’ve been watching this cartoon for a long time, and I can’t deny that it still holds the same charm (and humor!) after all this time. Still one worth revisiting!

And Now For The Main Feature…

(Host): I figured it out!

(Narrator): You figured it out?

(Host): …

(Narrator): Well, did you?

(Host): … No.

(Narrator): Good. I was worried you were about to start in with a (poorly done) musical number for my return. (Aside to audience) And when I say “poorly done,” I mean him, not the movie. (Normal voice) The story for The Pajama Game comes from the novel 7 1/2 Cents by Richard Bissell, which was turned into the hit Broadway musical The Pajama Game…

(Host): Never mind that. Let’s get on with the story!

(Narrator): Fine. Have at it.

(Host): To start off with, the workers at the Sleeptite Pajama Factory are demanding a raise of 7 1/2 cents from their boss, Myron Hasler (Ralph Dunn), but he refuses to budge! He hires a new superintendent, Sid Sorokin, as played by Frank Sinatra –

(Narrator): WAIT A MINUTE!!! I’m sorry folks, but he’s working with the wrong information. The original plan for this movie was to keep the Broadway cast more or less intact, but it was required by the producers to have a big movie star as one of the leads. They had hoped to have Frank Sinatra as the male lead, with plans for Janis Paige to reprise her role from the Broadway show. Supposedly, Frank turned the role down (or was unavailable), and so they got Doris Day as the female lead, dropping Janis Paige and bringing in John Raitt. Whew. Now, let’s back to things with the RIGHT information.

(Host): Alright. He hires a new superintendent, Sid Sorokin AS PLAYED BY JOHN RAITT (glares at the Narrator).

(Narrator): Hurry Up!

(Host): (Singing) Can’t waste time, can’t waste time…”

(Narrator): (Covers up Host’s mouth and addresses the audience) Sorry, folks. That one’s on me. I should have known better with him. (Pulls hand off Host’s mouth) Going to behave now?

(Host): Sure. What choice do I have? Now, where was I? Oh, yes. While trying to help fix some machinery, Sid ends up shoving a lazy employee out of the way. Deciding to fake an injury, the employee runs off to tell the grievance committee from the union. The leader of that grievance committee turns out to be Catherine “Babe” Williams (Doris Day), whom Sid immediately takes a shine to. Babe’s co-workers also sense that Babe feels the same way, but she tells them that she’s (singing) “Not at all in love”

(Narrator): (Covers up Host’s mouth again) I thought we covered this.

(Host): (Mumbling through Narrator’s hand) OK. (Narrator pulls hand away). Well, Sid tries to ask her out, but she turns him down, worried about how she is a worker, and he is management. But, when the company picnic comes around, he’s persistent enough that they start going out anyway. Things go well for a time. However, Myron Hasler’s refusal to compromise with the union about the 7 1/2 cent raise results in the workers trying to slow things down. When Sid forces everyone back to work at normal speed, Babe decides to sabotage the machinery to slow things down. When she openly admits to it, Sid has no choice but to fire her. Later, he tries to make it up to her, but she refuses to see him. Sid tries to reason with Mr. Hasler, but he refuses to budge. So, Sid decides to try looking at the books. However, they are kept under lock and key, and Mr. Hasler’s secretary, Gladys Hotchkiss (Carol Haney), has the key. So, he opts to take her out (but openly admits beforehand that he wants the key). She suggests going to a place called (tango music starts) “Hernando’s Hideaway! Olé!” (Music stops as trapdoor opens up underneath the Host. He looks down, looks back up to address audience.) Darn it. I pressed my luck too far. (Falls down through trapdoor, which closes immediately after.)

(Narrator): Well, he’s gone, for a moment. Back to the story, Sid gets Gladys drunk, but then he sees Babe come in. While he tries to hide from Babe, Gladys decides to give him the key. Babe sees the two of them, and comes over to warn them that Gladys’ jealous boyfriend (and factory foreman) Vernon “Hinesie” Hines (Eddie Foy, Jr.) knows about them, and is out looking for them. Sid tries to explain, but she leaves immediately. After trying to make sure that Gladys has a ride home, Sid goes off to look at the books for the factory. Will he be able to find something that allows the union and Mr. Hasler to compromise, or will the workers go on strike?

(Narrator walks offstage as the Host walks back on)

(Host): I see he finished the story during the brief moment I was away. So, let’s down to what I think of this movie. I will readily admit, this was a movie that, for some reason, I had no initial interest in (and I’ve never seen it performed on stage, either). The biggest reason I saw this movie was the presence of leading lady Doris Day, combined with the fact that it is a musical. And, much to my surprise, it ended up being a movie that I enjoyed! The music by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross turned out to be quite fun and memorable (and I was taken aback to hear the song “Hey There,” which I’ve heard a version of on an oldies radio station that I’ve listened to for a number of years). I will admit to having a number of the songs stuck in my head, and, as much as I now like them, that’s not a bad problem to have! I do admit that I find actor John Raitt to be one of the weak points of the film, as his performance doesn’t quite work for me (it’s not completely terrible, but it’s still rather weak compared to the rest of the cast). Doris Day is, as always, in fine voice and does well with her character (even if she was a newbie to the show compared to most of the original Broadway cast brought in for the movie). I’m not quite as fond of the dancing, but you’re also talking to somebody who prefers the likes of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly and some of the other earlier dancers (and the choreography that they were working with). Still, this one was a movie that I enjoyed, and I would certainly recommend it highly!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. The new Blu-ray uses a 4K Scan of the original negative. It’s another one that was originally done in the problematic WarnerColor process (much like Mister Roberts), and the restoration crew made plans to use other elements in case the original negative wasn’t up to snuff. However, it turned out to be in better shape than they thought, and the new transfer looks wonderful! The detail is there, the color is there, and the restoration team has my greatest admiration for all the work they continue to do with Warner’s holdings (so yes, give the Blu-ray a try)!

(Narrator): (walks back onstage wearing a pair of Sleeptite pajamas and carrying, over several trips, a microphone, some sound equipment, a music player and a portable chair)

(Host): What’s all this?

(Narrator): I figured that you’re bound and determined to start singing and dancing, so I grabbed some equipment. Just don’t expect this to happen that often.

(Host): (Grinning broadly) you mean this is my (Narrator nods and starts up the music) “Once-a-year day!” (Sound fades away as invisible soundproof walls descend around the stage, while the Host continues singing and dancing without noticing)

(The Narrator sits down in chair and sets up a sign, with the words only visible to the audience. The sign says “What? You didn’t expect me to let you suffer as well, did you?”)

(The glass breaks from all the singing and dancing around)

(Narrator): Oh, well. As the old saying goes, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” (Gets up and starts singing and dancing with the Host)

Film Length: 1 hour, 41 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Love Me Or Leave Me (1955)Doris DayBilly Rose’s Jumbo (1962)

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) – Eddie Foy, Jr.

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One thought on “What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… The Pajama Game (1957)

  1. I am a HUGE Doris Day fan. Probably because everyone thought I looked like her when I was 15! This one is one of the best and I loved your background info about Frank. Good job once again making these movies tempting to watch with your tantalizing reviews.

    Liked by 2 people

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