23 April 2019 | TheLittleSongbird
Coast to coast
Actually saw the 1955 musical remake first several years ago when my film taste and knowledge was nowhere near as broad and when my reviews and taste were not particularly good at all (or so from personal opinion that is). This is to confess that this was without realising at the time that this 1942 'My Sister Eileen' existed. Absolutely loved that film then, still do and slightly prefer it while enjoying this film very much.
1942's 'My Sister Eileen' is adapted from the Broadway smash, its appeal is unsurprisingly so, there have been stage hits where the appeal is a mystery by personal standards, that opinion just to say has been extremely rare with me and have really tried never to adopt that way of thinking, but not here. 'My Sister Eileen' may not be perfect but much of it is an absolute delight and it is very difficult to be too hard on it. There is a good deal of talent involved, with Rosalind Russell being the biggest name and draw, so it's hard to resist.
Do feel that the pacing is rather rushed and frenetic, and do agree that some of 'My Sister Eileen' does try too hard where it does go a little too over-the-top and become somewhat strident and chaotic.
It does have a silly story, but will be honest in saying that this film is hardly the only, first or last film from the "golden age" to not have the story as a strong suit and sometimes for that reason. Brian Aherne also has very little to work with and gets somewhat lost amidst everything else.
Having said all of this, 'My Sister Eileen' does boast some charming production values that don't look too stage-bound and is nicely photographed. There are a lot of very funny and often hilarious moments in the script and while the story and pace have their short-comings the story stays upbeat and impossible to dislike and even if the film did need a slowing down at least it engaged me and the deliciously kooky characters entertained. Got a lot of fun out of the conga sequence.
That is all thanks to a cast at the top of their game, with a few cast members reprising their roles from the stage and doing a great job at it. In support, Donald MacBride is a big standout. While Janet Blair is every bit Rosalind Russell's equal and the chemistry between them crackles Russell is the reason to see 'My Sister Eileen', her comic timing is just effortless and she is basically a joy to watch.
On the whole, not perfect but with a lot to enjoy. See it for Russell. 7/10