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William A. Seiter
Sisters Ruth and Eileen Sherwood move from Ohio to New York in the hopes of building their careers. Ruth wants to get a job as a writer, while Eileen hopes to succeed on the stage. The two end up living in a dismal basement apartment in Greenwich Village, where a parade of odd characters are constantly breezing in and out. The women also meet up with magazine editor Bob Baker, who takes a personal interest in helping both with their career plans. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <email@example.com>
Rosalind Russell got her first trip to the Oscars via her performance as the sensible Ruth Sherwood who wants a career as a writer, but has to worry about looking after that other sibling of her's who moved with her to New York from Columbus, Ohio, My Sister Eileen.
Imagine if you will a story where the heroine's wise and wisecracking best friend is the lead character and you've got My Sister Eileen. In most films Russell's character would be played by Eve Arden, but here what makes the film original is that the normal supporting role is the lead. As good a job as Russell does, I kind of wish Harry Cohn had thought of Arden for the lead.
The Sherwood sisters move from Columbus to make their mark in the big city and in one respect New York hasn't changed. Housing is pretty tough to come by and the sisters have to settle for a basement apartment in Greenwich Village. The apartment is owned by George Tobias, part time artist, and full time lech. But with Janet Blair as Eileen, he's just one of many.
Most of the action takes place in the Sherwood apartment where people just seem to come and go like it was Grand Central Station. Russell's wit and intelligence might scare off some people, she interests Brian Aherne however who works at a magazine she's trying to land a job with.
As for Blair she wants to be an actress and her obvious charm and naive sex appeal have the men swarming around her. This part was Janet Blair's first big break on screen and made her career.
Rosalind Russell in getting a nomination for Best Actress got the only Oscar recognition the film received. Roz was up against one tough field. Her's was the only comedy performance in a field that included such heavy dramas as Katharine Hepburn in Keeper Of The Flame, Bette Davis in Now Voyager, and Teresa Wright in Pride Of The Yankees. The winner due to the times as well as her acting was Greer Garson for Mrs. Miniver. Given the war, I don't think any of these other ladies had a chance.
In her memoirs Rosalind Russell said that Ruth Sherwood was the first of her career woman roles, parts by the way she loved to play. I think she might have forgotten Hildy Johnson from His Girl Friday, but it's possible she thought of Hildy as an anti-career woman because what she wanted to do was leave the newspaper business and marry Ralph Bellamy. Ruth Sherwood on the other hand wants to get a career going.
My Sister Eileen is a timeless classic, it could probably be remade today with few enough changes. Russell in fact did it on Broadway in the musical Wonderful Town. She may have failed an Oscar, but she got a Tony Award for the part.
Can't you see Jessica Simpson as Eileen Sherwood? I wonder why no one's thought of it.
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