website, blog and vanity nexus of writer R F Brown

Pajama Lame

Pajama Game (1957)

An excellent book I read on the history of American musicals –  Our Musicals, Ourselves: A Social History of the American Musical Theatre – divides mid-20th century shows into roughly two groups:  the social message shows, such as Show Boat or West Side Story, and the “diversionaries”  like Annie Get Your Gun or Pajama Game; pure entertainments.  And Pajama Game, despite looking at a glance about labor union strikers in the garment industry is, in fact, about absolutely nothing.  There is a flimsy love story, and perhaps an accidental excursus on sexual harassment in the workplace.  But the production numbers are so diversionary and separate from what storyline there is, that it’s more similar to the Busby Berkeley musical revue movies of the 30s than it is to Rogers and Hammerstein.  That said, the score and the production numbers are very good.  Below is a scene depicting “the entertainment” that takes place at the so called labor rally (Note the signature Bob Fosse choreography.  He was the best!):

I’d like to see a real Broadway production of P.G.  The film, by the way, is very G.  They take out all the damns and hells and randy sexual innuendo that were in the original stage show (And in my sister’s high-school production back in the 70s.  There they set “Hernando’s Hideaway” as a disco!).   I wouldn’t rank it a necessity among films or stage shows.  I don’t make requirements for these diversionaries as a whole, but there are much better ones, e.g. Gypsy.  Everything from Pajama Game worth your time is on YouTube.

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