The Pajama Game


1h 41m 1957

Brief Synopsis

Employees of the Sleeptite Pajama Factory are looking for a whopping seven-and-a-half cent an hour increase and they won't take no for an answer. Babe Williams is their feisty employee representative but she may have found her match in shop superintendent Sid Sorokin. When the two get together they wind up discussing a whole lot more than job actions!

Film Details

Release Date
Aug 31, 1957
Premiere Information
New York and Los Angeles openings: 29 Aug 1957
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Dubuque, Iowa, United States; Los Angeles--Boyle Heights--Hollenbeck Park, California, United States; Los Angeles--Boyle Hts.--Hollenbeck Park, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the musical The Pajama Game , book by George Abbott and Richard Bissell, music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, directed by George Abbott and Jerome Robbins, produced by Frederick Brisson, Robert E. Griffith and Harold S. Prince (New York, 13 May 1954), from the novel 7½ Cents by Richard Bissell (Boston, 1953).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 41m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Color (Warnercolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

In Iowa, Mr. Hasler, the penny-pinching boss of Sleeptite Pajama Factory, opposes his employees' demand for a seven-and-a-half-cent raise. After hiring Sid Sirokin as trial superintendent, Hasler asks his secretary Gladys Hotchkiss to show Sid around the plant. Seeing his girl friend Gladys with Sid, Vernon "Hinesie" Hines, Sleeptite's foreman and "time study man," imagines she is flirting with him and vents his jealousy by yelling at his staff to "hurry up," making normally efficient employees feel like they are racing with the clock. Two days later, while trying to get a lazy young man to do his job, the hardworking Sid, who is anxious to keep his job, impatiently shoves him. The man then complains to the Grievance Committee that he is in great pain because Sid hit him. The committee, chaired by Catherine "Babe" Williams, investigates the claim and Sid, although attracted to Babe, finds himself at odds with her, because of her strict adherence to the "rules." Later, after the company nurse reports that young man is a "faker," the committee drops the case. The strong and handsome Sid has made an impression on the females in the company, who note that Babe, too, seems taken with him. As Babe adamantly denies this, she accidentally falls into Sid's arms. Hinesie again gets jealous when he sees Gladys leave a note on Sid's desk, until he discovers the note discusses payroll. After Gladys sarcastically tells Hinesie that the dollar amounts mentioned mean "I love you" in Morse code, the ashamed Hinesie promises to end his jealous outbursts, and Gladys, doubting him, threatens that someday she may give him a reason to be jealous. Hasler insists on keeping the company account book well-hidden, so when he finds it laying on an office table, he scolds Gladys, even though the book is securely locked by a key she keeps around her neck. To lure Babe in his office, Sid asks his secretary, Mabel, to summon the Grievance Committee on the pretext of settling the complaint. When she arrives, Sid asks Babe for a date, but she refuses, because it would be a conflict of interests. After she leaves, Sid dictates a memo on his recorder, but is soon thinking about Babe, trying to convince himself to forget about her. At the annual company picnic, everyone is giddy and just a bit wild. A usual event at the picnic is Hinesie's old vaudeville knife-throwing demonstration, but, because he is drunk, when he asks for someone to stand against his target board, only the impetuous Babe volunteers. The onlookers cringe when Hinesie's aim is askew, but most frightened is Sid, who intervenes and takes Babe for a walk. As they stroll, Sid announces that he is instituting a new policy in which they will get along with each other, then kisses her and asks her to "be his girl." She agrees, and that night takes Sid to her home, where she lives with her father, a railroad worker whose hobby is stamp collecting. After her father leaves to work a night shift, Sid refuses to make small talk and tells Babe that he loves her. Although Babe admits that she loves him, she explains that they have two problems: the union, to which she is dedicated, and the workers' demand of seven-and-a-half cents. Sid cannot believe that these issues will affect their relationship because their love is greater than that of other well-known lovers throughout history. When the committee, led by union leader Prez, meets with Hasler to discuss the raise, arguing that other companies have already given their workers the same increase, Hasler stalls them, saying he must talk to the company's board of directors. Guessing that Hasler has no intention of agreeing to their demand, the union leaders tell the workers to slow down production. Hinesie notices immediately what is happening and calls for Sid, who threatens to fire anyone who does not produce a full day's work. Seeing her coworkers frightened into submission, Babe jams the machinery lines, causing a temporary shutdown, and Sid fires her. Later at a union meeting, Prez urges the workers, who are considering a strike, to "get hot" for their union. At a strategy meeting held at Babe's house, the union leaders consider "constructive" ways of convincing Hasler to reconsider, such as mismatching the sizes of pajama top and bottom sets, and Prez promises to make sure that there will be complaints about the buttons on pajama bottoms. After they leave, Sid, who Babe has avoided for three days, comes to call. They argue, and when she asserts that she must stand up for the workers, he responds that he needs to keep his job. She goes to her room, leaving Sid with her father and his stamps, but behind her closed door, she mourns their relationship. At work, as the rift between management and workers widens, the company loses contracts. An annoyed salesman, using Hinesie as a model, demonstrates how the buttons on pajama bottoms have not been on sewn on properly, causing them to fall off at inopportune times. Angered by the sabotage, Hasler refuses Sid's suggestion of compromise. Wanting to find a solution, Sid asks Gladys out to dinner, hoping to get access to the account book, and she suggests they go to a riverfront dive, Hernando's Hideaway, where no one will recognize them. Much to their surprise, many of their coworkers are there, too. After getting inebriated, Gladys confesses an interest in Sid, who tells her frankly that he has asked her out to get the key to the account book. When he sees Babe enter the establishment, he confides to Gladys that he is depressed. To make him feel better, the besotted Gladys gives him the key. Babe warns Gladys that Hinesie has discovered she is with Sid and is looking for her, armed with his knives. After Gladys passes out, Sid explains why he is with her, but Babe will not listen. A union rally has been scheduled for the next day to declare a strike, but after looking at the account book, Sid asks the union leaders to delay their announcement until he can talk to Hasler. Gladys, who is running through the factory dodging Hinesie's knives, begs for Sid's help. Before Sid can come to her rescue, he, too, becomes the target of Hinesie's vengeance. When Hasler arrives and sees a knife stuck in the wall, he assumes that the workers have hired an "Al Capone mob" to murder him. Sid grabs Hinesie and confiscates his knives, then asks Gladys to take him away. He then tells Hasler that he has seen the account book and knows that the seven-and-a-half-cent raise has already been approved by the board and figured into the costs for the last six months. At the rally, Prez and the other workers are computing what the seven and a half cents an hour, multiplied over several years, can buy for them and conclude that it will be enough for them to live like kings. Hasler, accompanied by Sid, arrives and suggests a compromise: he will approve a seven-and-a-half-cent raise, if they will not claim retroactive pay. As the workers cheer their victory, Babe and Sid reunite. Later, the workers throw a pajama party as a demonstration of the renewed harmony within the factory, during which they stage a "fashion parade" of pajamas.

Film Details

Release Date
Aug 31, 1957
Premiere Information
New York and Los Angeles openings: 29 Aug 1957
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Dubuque, Iowa, United States; Los Angeles--Boyle Heights--Hollenbeck Park, California, United States; Los Angeles--Boyle Hts.--Hollenbeck Park, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the musical The Pajama Game , book by George Abbott and Richard Bissell, music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, directed by George Abbott and Jerome Robbins, produced by Frederick Brisson, Robert E. Griffith and Harold S. Prince (New York, 13 May 1954), from the novel 7½ Cents by Richard Bissell (Boston, 1953).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 41m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Color (Warnercolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Quotes

Trivia

39% of the cast is from the original Broadway production.

Notes

The film begins with a sequence showing John Raitt as "Sid Sirokin" walking from a railway station to the Sleeptite Pajama Factory, where he enters and commences his interview with "Mr. Hasler." Eddie Foy, Jr., as "Vernon `Hinesie' Hines," is shown overseeing the factory workers. In a vaudevillian style, Foy then begins singing the song "The Pajama Game." As he dances, the camera shows only his legs and colorful fabric that will be made into pajamas. The opening credits are superimposed over the footage.
       As noted in the Hollywood Reporter review, producer George Abbott, who co-directed the stage play with Jerome Robbins, and Stanley Donen have unusual onscreen credits, in that they are jointly listed as producer-directors. According to one of Donen's biography's, Donen was interested in Abbott's input in the direction of the film to keep it consistent with the stage play, and Abbott agreed, if Donen would share producer responsibilities with him. The two men are listed twice: above the title as "A George Abbott Stanley Donen Production," and at the end of the opening credits as "Produced and Directed by George Abbott and Stanley Donen."
       At one point during the song "Racing with the Clock," footage of the busy factory employees is sped up to illustrate their feeling that they are being rushed. During the song "Hey There," Raitt is shown singing into his Dictaphone, then playing back the recording and singing a duet with himself. The reprise of "Hey There," sung by Doris Day as "Catherine `Babe' Williams" is set in Babe's darkened bedroom. As she sings, red and green lights from a nearby railroad sign shine through the window and color the room. In addition to "Hey There," which became a hit song for Rosemary Clooney and other artists, the score produced two other hit songs, "Steam Heat" and "Hernando's Hideaway." Although Warner Bros. studio publicity notes and the Hollywood Reporter review list the film's running time as 108 minutes, copyright records and the Variety review list the time as 101 minutes.
       A June 1953 Los Angeles Examiner news item reported that Frederick Brisson, Robert E. Griffith and Harold S. Prince bought the novel 7½ Cents, intending to develop both a Broadway musical and, later, a film from the property. According to the news item, the producers were negotiating with Cary Grant, Gene Kelly and Van Johnson, hoping that one of them would star in both the stage and film versions. In April 1955, a New York Times news item reported that Warner Bros. completed negotiations to purchase the film rights to the Broadway musical. According to a modern source, the studio wanted Frank Sinatra, and Abbott wanted Marlon Brando to play the lead, and Bing Crosby was interested in the part, but unaffordable.
       The following cast members from the Broadway show reprised their roles in the film: John Raitt, Eddie Foy, Jr., Ralph Dunn, Reta Shaw, Buzz Miller, Ralph Chambers, Thelma Pelish and Carol Haney. Haney, who was Gene Kelly's dance assistant on loan from M-G-M, made her stage debut in The Pajama Game, which launched her successful stage choreography career. The play also launched the career of actress Shirley MacLaine, who, as Haney's understudy took over the role when Haney broke her leg.
       Also cast in the film, according to a Hollywood Reporter news item, was Jack Waldron, who played a dancer and salesman in the stage version, respectively, but who May have been replaced in the final film by Owen Martin, who was credited onscreen. Although some modern sources list Pete Genarro in the cast, according to the Daily Variety review, he was replaced by Kenneth LeRoy. Mary Stanton, who performed in the chorus of the stage version, portrayed "Brenda" in the film.
       Bob Fosse, who served as choreographer for both stage and screen versions, was hired at Robbins' suggestion, according to modern sources. The Pajama Game marked Fosse's first stage and first major film choreography experiences, although he had performed in a handful of films and Broadway plays, and choreographed the 1955 Columbia production My Sister Eileen (see entry above). After The Pajama Game, he became one of the leading director-choreographers of stage and screen.
       According to a modern source, Zoya Leporska served as dance assistant on the film. Frank Thompson, who served as assistant to the set and costume designer in the stage version, was also the costume designers' assistant for the film.
       A November 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that the exteriors in the opening sequence featuring Raitt, which were shot before principal photography began, were filmed at a pajama factory on location in Dubuque, IA. According to a modern source, Richard Bissell, author of the novel 7½ Cents and Abbott's co-writer of the stage play and film script, worked as a factory supervisor in Dubuque. A November 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that the picnic sequence and "Once-a-Year Day" song were shot at Hollenbeck Park in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, CA.
       Several songs from the stage version were dropped from the film. A new song, "The Man Who Invented Love," was written for the film solely by Richard Adler, as Jerry Ross had died in 1955, but, before release, was cut from the film and replaced with a reprise of "Hey There." "The Man Who Invented Love," which was sung by Day, was included as added content on the DVD version of the film.
       The New York Times review reported that The Pajama Game was "plucked off the Broadway stage and re-created as a movie with scarcely a passage or a principal performer changed." Although the film version, according to the Variety review, "contains a shade more of social significance," it is an "almost faithful transmutation [of the Broadway production] into celluloid."

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States March 1977

Released in United States Summer August 1957

Warner Bros. currently holds the video distribution rights to the film. In a deal made by Jack Warner, theatrical and other rights reverted to the musical's original authors after a designated period of time.

Released in United States March 1977 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The Mighty Musical Movie Marathon) March 9-27, 1977.)

Released in United States Summer August 1957