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Critic's Choice: Bob Fosse choreography energizes double bill of 'The Pajama Game' and 'Damn Yankees'

Critic's Choice: Bob Fosse choreography energizes double bill of 'The Pajama Game' and 'Damn Yankees'
Gwen Verdon in the 1958 movie "Damn Yankees." (Los Angeles Times file photo)

Movie musicals may be making a bit of a comeback but they have a ways to go until they match the verve and pizzazz that choreographer (and later director) Bob Fosse brought to two energetic 1950s gems, both directed by the George Abbott/Stanley Donen team and showing as part of the UCLA Film & Television Archive’s series, “Fosse, Fosse, Fosse! A Retrospective.”

"The Pajama Game," starring Doris Day and John Raitt, is that rare musical about labor unions, but Fosse's "Steam Heat" number transcends political differences. "Damn Yankees" stars the unusual combination of Tab Hunter and Gwen Verdon and has baseball as its theme, but numbers like "Whatever Lola Wants" will entertain even non-sports fans.

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UCLA Film & Television Archive, Billy Wilder Theater, Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 206-8013. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, $8-$10. Series continues through Aug. 26.

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