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Ruth and her beautiful sister Eileen come to New York's Greenwich Village looking for "fame, fortune and a 'For Rent' sign on Barrow Street". They find an apartment (such as it is!), but fame and fortune are a lot more elusive. Ruth gets the attention of playboy publisher Bob Baker when she submits a story about her gorgeous sister Eileen. She tries to keep his attention by convincing him that she, (a "spinsterish old-maid writer") and the gorgeous, man-getting Eileen are one and the same person. Written by
Where has this film been all these years? What a completely charming piece of entertainment with a nice score by Jule Styne (Gypsy, Funny Girl, Bells Are Ringing). OK, so it's no Singin' In The Rain or Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. But it's equally as good as a lot of the other lesser MGM musicals of the 1940s and 1950s such as Summer Stock and On The Town. Based on the 1940 play of the same name (Book by Joseph A. Fields and Jerome Chodorov;) Betty Garrett and Janet Leigh are perfect as the Sherwood sisters. They both shine in their performances. And top it off, the film highlights some wonderful choreography by none other than legendary Bob Fosse. His work is, as it always was, stylish and pure class. The only glitch in the casting is that of Jack Lemon. He tries to be a slick, man-of-the-world New York publisher. But his performance just falls a bit short of his usual standards. And sadly there was very little chemistry between Garrett and Lemon, making the blossoming romance of their characters somewhat hard to believe. Still, even with this small weak link in the chain, overall the film really works.
It does seem strange that just the year before this film was released, Broadway produced their own musical version of the original 1940 non-musical version of My Sister Eileen, called Wonderful Town (Music by Leonard Berstein; Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green). While Wonderful Town wasn't a huge Broadway smash, it did run 559 performances, which was respectable for 1954. With a musical stage version of the play already existing as a part of the world of musical theater, I tend to wonder why Columbia started from scratch with this film and didn't film the Bernstein, Comdon & Green musical. But still, it's nice to know that there are two different musical versions of this charming play to enjoy.
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