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DAMN YANKEES ($20) is an enjoyable movie adaptation of the popular Broadway musical about a baseball fan who sells his soul to the devil for a chance to help his team win the pennant. Retaining much of the original Broadway cast (including Gwen Verdon and Ray Walston, the movie version of DAMN YANKEES also benefits from the spirited choreography Bob Fosse. The plot of DAMN YANKEES tells the story of middle-aged Washington Senators fan Joe Boyd (Robert Shafer) whose offer to sell his soul for a winning team, catches the attention of one Mr. Applegate (Walston). What Applegate offer Joe, is a deal that will turn him into a phenomenal twenty two year old baseball player, whom our devilish friend dubs Joe Hardy (Tab Hunter).

Despite his love for baseball and the Senators, Joe only accepts the deal with the proviso of an escape clause, which Applegate reluctantly agrees to. Although Joe becomes the young baseball hero that elevates the Senators out of the basement, he is still a middle-aged man at heart, who longs for his wife and home. Seeing that he might lose Joe to the escape clause, Applegate summons up a demonic temptress named Lola (Gwen Verdon) to make sure he retains his newly contracted property. DAMN YANKEES classic score features such numbers as Heart, A Little Brains-A Little Talent, Whatever Lola Wants and Two Lost Souls. The cast of DAMN YANKEES also features Russ Brown, Shannon Bolin, Nathaniel Frey, James Komack, Rae Allen, Jean Stapleton and Albert Linville.

Warner Home Video has made DAMN YANKEES available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Once again, Warner steps up to the plate and delivers a really nice transfer of a classic movie. The image is generally sharp, although all of the film’s opticals come across a wee bit softer. Color reproduction appears quite good, with some vibrant hues that give a good impression of what an original IB Technicolor print might have looked like. Blacks are inky, whites are crisp and contrast is smooth. The film elements used for the transfer rarely show signs of age and have fairly consistent appearance. There is some mild grain here and there, but nothing one will find distracting or bothersome. Digital compression artifacts are always well contained.

DAMN YANKEES comes with a perfectly fine and reasonably pleasant sounding Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack. Fidelity lacks the "va va voom" of today’s tracks, but for a film released in 1958, it still manages to hit the songs out of the park. There is no harshness or tinny qualities to any of the musical numbers, in fact, it all sounds fairly smooth. Additionally, the vocals always come across with a genuine sense of presence. Most signs of background hiss and noise have been cleaned up in the mastering process, leaving one with an enjoyable listening experience. Dialogue is crisply rendered and remains totally understandable. No other language tracks are provided, but English, French and Spanish subtitles have been included. Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a theatrical trailer.

DAMN YANKEES is totally enjoyable movie musical fun that has been given a fine presentation by Warner Home Video. If you are a fan or movie musical buff, the DVD is something you’ll want to add to your library.



Damn Yankees


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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