The Pajama Game became the first in a string of smash hits for visionary choreographer Bob Fosse soon after it opened on Broadway in May of 1954. The play opened to rave reviews and was performed well over 1000 times. So when it came time to re-purpose it for the silver screen, Warner Bros. decided to basically lift the entire production from the stage at the St. James Theater and transport it to the sound stage in Hollywood. The female lead was changed from Janis Paige to Doris Day for box-office reasons and a couple of minor roles were switched out but, all-in-all what we see in the film is a faithful replication of the original Broadway production and a level of ensemble seldom seen on film. If you can stop being soooo sophisticated and are ready, willing and able to dispend reality for a little while, you will really enjoy this wonderful piece of period fluff.
Directed by - Stanley Donen & George Abbott
(1957) - Color - 101 min
Vernon Hines, production supervisor and self-proclaimed "time-study man" at the Sleeptite Pajama Factory (played by veteran vaudevillian Eddie Foy, Jr.) loves his job. So much so that he leads his entire workroom crew in a huge production number extolling the virtues of efficiency and the sleep-wear industry (aka "The Pajama Game"). Meanwhile, strapping Sid Sorokin, played by John Raitt (father of blues great Bonnie Raitt), saunters in from Chicago and bluffs his way into a job as plant superintendent right smack-dab in the middle of a labor/management dispute over a 7 ½ cent pay raise and soon locks horns with the head of labor's grievance committee, Miss Katherine 'Babe' Williams portrayed by Miss Doris Day. Norma Ray? Doris Day? Sparks fly. Oh, my! Part 1 ends with a fabulous soft-shoe song and dance from Vernon and Mabel the bookkeeper (played by the great Reta Shaw) to the Adler/Ross song, "I'll Never Be Jealous Again".
Doris Day as Katie "Babe" Williams
We can't afford a 7 1/2 cent raise! Ralph Dunn stars as Hasler, the owner the P.J. Factory
Sid tries to put the moves on Babe only to get shut down cold and the poor yutz, hopelessly google-eyed over the hard-boiled bureaucrat, leaves himself a singing Dictaphone message wrought with angst and self-loathing. It's remarkable how quickly things can change though for the very next day at the company free beer picnic, Sid screws up his courage and goes for it behind a big tree and Babe's defenses crumble quicker than a French prizefighter. Then another huge Fosse production number involving most all of the pajama professionals leaves us wondering why these people are working in a factory when they could be in the circus or something cool like that.
Romance runs rampant. Sid and Babe sing a duet on a rainy night in the kitchen at Babe's house, confessing their love for each other and acknowledging the 7 1/2 cent conflict of interest that will surely doom their relationship, followed by yet another duet (an out of place, yippy sort of cowboy loves cowgirl loves cowboy song which sounds to be left over from director Stanley Donen's "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" or something). But there it is. The inevitable soon happens when labor negotiations break down and the workers decide to go on a "slowdown" campaign resulting in Sid (management) vs. Babe (labor). The plot thickens. Members of the office staff entertain the delegates at the AS&PW Union convention with a snappy swing number, "Steam Heat".
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John Raitt as Sid Sorokin
Union leaders conspire to find sneaky little ways to put the screws to management, Sid and Babe have a verbal confrontation concerning the bi-polar hopelessness of their love, Babe sings a reprise of Sid's Dictaphone message from part 2 (a most memorable Adler/Ross tune, "Hey, There"), a rareglimpse of a Studebaker taxicab and Vernon does a classic slapstick complete with pant dropping. Next, Vern's long-suffering girlfriend (and executive assistant at the pajama factory), Gladys Hotchkiss (played beautifully by Broadway legend Carol Haney), steals the show with her performance of the Adler/Ross classic, "Hernando's Hideaway" and commands the spotlight right through to the end of part 4.
The union is readying their rally to call for a strike, Sid thinks he has found a way to settle the dispute to everyone's satisfaction and the entire cast sings and dances their way to a happy ending in the "Sleeptite Fashion Parade". Yea, pajamas!