The Pajama Game
Comedy, Musical | 101 mins | Released: 1957
Director: George Abbott
Starring: Stanley Donen, Doris Day, John Raitt, Carol Haney, Eddie Foy, Jr., Reta Shaw, Barbara Nichols
Our Rating: 7
Sid (John Raitt) has just been hired as superintendent of the Sleeptite Pajama Factory in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He soon falls for Babe (Doris Day), a worker in the factory and member of the employee union’s leadership. At the company picnic they become a couple, but Babe worries that their roles in management and labor will drive them apart. She is correct. The union is pushing for a raise of seven-and-one-half cents per hour to bring them in line with the industry standard, but the factory’s manager is giving them a runaround. In retaliation, the workers pull a slow-down and deliberately foul up the pajamas, but when Babe actually sabotages some machinery, Sid fires her.
Meanwhile, Sid has been wondering what secrets the manager is hiding in his locked account book. To that end, he takes Gladys (Carol Haney), the boss’ assistant, on a date to the local hot spot, “Hernando’s Hideaway”, despite her insanely jealous boyfriend “Hine-sie” (Eddie Foy, Jr.). He gets Gladys drunk, and in this state, she lends him the key to the locked book. Returning to the factory, Sid discovers that the manager reported the raise as having been instituted months ago. He has been pocketing the difference himself. Sid threatens to send the book to the board of directors if the raise is not paid immediately.
At the union meeting that evening, the manager agrees to the raise. When Babe realizes that it was Sid who engineered the raise and that he has only been attempting to avoid labor strife, she returns to him.
Looking for another romantic musical from the 1950s? See the renowned film, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes!
The Pajama Game is a 1957 musical film based on the stage musical of the same name. The principal cast of the Broadway musical repeated their roles for the movie, with the exception of Janis Paige, who was replaced by Doris Day.
A song written specifically for Doris Day, “The Man Who Invented Love” (music and lyrics by Richard Adler), wound up on the cutting-room floor. Currently, the recording can be listened to on the soundtrack CD from Collectables, and the footage can be watched on the DVD from Warner Home Video.
This is the only film in which Carol Haney had a speaking part. In all her other films she was strictly a dancer.
39% of the cast is from the original Broadway production.
The soundtrack LP, released by Columbia Records, vaulted to ninth position among “Billboards” popular albums.
The original Broadway production of The Pajama Game opened at the St. James Theater in New York on May 13, 1954, ran for 1,063 performances and won the 1955 Tony Award for the Best Musical. Shirley MacLaine was in the ensemble and was an understudy to Carol Haney. Miss MacLaine did go on for Miss Haney at least once during the Broadway run, allowing her to perform the popular songs “Steam Heat” and “Hernando’s Hideaway”. John Raitt, Carol Haney, Eddie Foy Jr., Reta Shaw, Thelma Pelish, Ralph Dunn, Ralph W. Chambers, Mary Stanton and Buzz Miller were in the original cast and recreated their roles in the movie version.
Frank Sinatra turned down the lead role in The Pajama Game (1957), which would have paired him up with Janis Paige, who played the role on Broadway. As a result, Paige lost out on playing the part to Doris Day, who was considered a bigger box-office draw.
John Raitt‘s only leading film role.
Patti Page was considered for the lead role played by Doris Day.
The choreography was masterminded by Bob Fosse.
The Pajama Game performed so well at the box-office that Warners immediately went to work on the filmization of the second (and last) Adler/Ross Broadway collaboration, Damn Yankees.