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    LEARNING GUIDE TO:

    DAMN YANKEES

    SUBJECTS — Drama/Musicals; Sports/Baseball; Dance/Performance;
            U.S./1945 - 1991;
    SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — None;
    MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Responsibility.
    Age:10+; No MPAA Rating; Musical; 1958; 110 minutes; Color; Available from Amazon.com.


    Description:     A middle-aged couch potato baseball fan is enticed by the devil to trade his soul for youth and talent. The devil agrees to allow him to play professional baseball on his favorite team, the hapless Washington Senators. The fan becomes a star but .... Will he ever be able to return to his home and his couch?

    This is a movie version of the Tony award-winning musical. The music and lyrics are by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross.


    Benefits of the Movie: This musical combines song, dance, and baseball. It will introduce children to the Faustian legend of making a bargain with the devil to sell one's soul in return for rewards in this life, such as wisdom, knowledge, earthly pleasures or, in this case, an opportunity to play professional baseball.

    This musical is fun and well-performed. It includes classic songs such as "Shoeless Jo from Hannibal Mo" and "Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets." Ray Walston as the Devil is terrific (he won the Tony Award for his performance of the role on Broadway). Damn Yankees is not among the first rank of musicals such as South Pacific, My Fair Lady or Oklahoma!, but it is certainly entertaining and worthwhile.



 









LEARNING GUIDE MENU
Benefits of the Movie
Possible Problems
Parenting Points
Selected Awards & Cast
Helpful Background
Discussion Questions:
      Subjects (Curriculum Topics)
      Social-Emotional Learning
      Moral-Ethical Emphasis
            (Character Counts)
Bridges to Reading
Links to the Internet
Assignments, Projects & Activities
Bibliography


WORKSHEETS: TWM offers the following worksheets to keep students' minds on the movie and direct them to the lessons that can be learned from the film. Teachers can modify the worksheets to fit the needs of each class. See also TWM's Movies as Literature Homework Project.




    Possible Problems:     MINOR. There is one dance number in which one of the Devil's disciples wiggles all parts of her body in a parody of a seduction. Some parents may object to this.


    Parenting Points:     Describe for your child the legend of Faust which is set out very briefly in the Helpful Background section. Then ask and help your child to answer the Quick Discussion Question.

    Selected Awards, Cast and Director:

      Selected Awards:  1958 Academy Award Nominations: Best Original Score.

      Featured Actors:  Gwen Verdon, Ray Walston, Tab Hunter, Jean Stapleton, Russ Brown.

      Director:  George Abbott, Stanley Donen.



 

QUICK DISCUSSION QUESTION:   The story of Dr. Faustus is a recurrent theme in Western culture. Since a person can't really make a bargain with the devil, what does this story mean?

Suggested Response: This is a legend with many meanings. But one of them, and perhaps the simplest, relates to how we conduct our lives. If we get ahead by cheating, lying, stealing, or by cutting corners, we are making the bargain with the Devil: selling our consciences for money, possessions, advancement or advantage. The story of Dr. Faustus is a recurrent theme in Western culture because the theme of the story is a basic component to ethics.


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For English Language Arts classes, distribute TWM's Film Study Worksheet. Teachers can modify the worksheet to fit the needs of each class. Ask students to fill out the worksheet as they watch the film or at the film's end.


    Helpful Background:

    Since the sixteenth century, stories and works of literature have recounted variations on the Faust legend. All are characterized by a bargain with the Devil, originally called Mephistopheles, in which the main character sells his soul. Faust sometimes bargains his soul for years of pleasure. In other versions, he bargains for scientific and philosophical knowledge. Usually, in the end, Mephistopheles carries Faust's soul to hell. In this musical comedy, the hero is able to outwit the Devil and stay out of hell.

    The Faustian legend has many meanings. But one of them, and perhaps the simplest, relates to how we conduct our lives. If we get ahead by cheating, lying, stealing, or by cutting corners, we are making the bargain with the Devil: selling our conscience for money, possessions, advancement or advantage. The story of Dr. Faustus is a recurrent theme in Western culture because the theme of the story is a basic component to ethics.

    In the 1950s and early 1960s the New York Yankees were the best team in baseball. The Washington Senators were a hapless franchise with a reputation for losing.
 

Click here for TWM's lesson plans to introduce cinematic and theatrical technique.




BUILDING VOCABULARY: Faust, Mephistopheles, "off in left field," "put the cart before the horse," and "to have heart."




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  Select questions that are appropriate for your students.


    Moral-Ethical Emphasis Discussion Questions (Character Counts)

    Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.

    RESPONSIBILITY

    (Do what you are supposed to do; Persevere: keep on trying!; Always do your best; Use self-control; Be self-disciplined; Think before you act -- consider the consequences; Be accountable for your choices)


    1.  This musical comedy turns the usual ending of the Faust legend on its head. The hero doesn't have to pay the price and is not carried off to hell. But musical comedies are not to be taken seriously. Why is it important in the Faust legend that the character who makes a bargain with the Devil goes to hell in the end?

    2.  How does the legend of Faust relate to the ethical principle of Responsibility?
 


Teachwithmovies.com is a Character Counts "Six Pillars Partner" and uses The Six Pillars of Character to organize ethical principles.

Character Counts and the Six Pillars of Character are marks of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition, a project of the Josephson Institute of Ethics.



Reminder to Teachers: Obtain all required permissions from your school administration before showing any film.

Teachers who want parental permission to show this movie can use TWM's Movie Permission Slip.


    Bridges to Reading: None.
 





    Links to the Internet: None.
 



 



 

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