Film Legends Of Yesteryear (2021): Rita Hayworth in… Fire Down Below (1957)

We’ve come around to November 17, which means that it’s time for the second-to-last “Film Legends Of Yesteryear” featuring Rita Hayworth (at least, for 2021, anyway)! So for that, we’ve got her 1957 film Fire Down Below, also starring Robert Mitchum and Jack Lemmon!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Dogs Is Dogs (1931)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 2 (1930-1931) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 20 minutes, 53 seconds)

Wheezer (Bobby Hutchins) and Dorothy (Dorothy DeBorba) are stuck with the unkind Spud (Sherwood Bailey) and his mother (Blanche Payson) when their father doesn’t return. This one traded in humor for heart, as we come to feel sorry for the kids as they are treated poorly by their “evil” stepmother. This short is very much in the vein of stuff like Cinderella or A Little Princess. For its length, it’s hard not to feel for both Wheezer and Dorothy. It may not be one of the series’ best shorts, but it’s still worth seeing just the same!

And Now For The Main Feature…

A pair of Americans, Felix Bowers (Robert Mitchum) and Tony (Jack Lemmon), have been pulling odd smuggling jobs around the Caribbean. They are offered the job of smuggling a beautiful woman, Irena (Rita Hayworth), to another island. It seems that she has no passport, so she has been moving around constantly to avoid being deported. Tony is interested, but Felix doesn’t want to take the job. He only relents when they are offered a lot of money. Still, Felix is less than thrilled with having to take Irena anywhere, and makes sure his feelings are well known when she comes to the dock the next morning. Tony, on the other hand, is captivated by her. After a while, the two men fight each other due to their opposing opinions on her. When they stop at a port to go to a carnival, though, even Felix finds himself falling for her, although she rejects his advances. When the boat gets to the port they were hired to take her to, Felix lets her go it alone, which angers Tony enough that he follows her and ends his partnership with Felix. However, Irena finds herself in trouble when a hotel clerk realizes that she shouldn’t be there, and offers to keep quiet if she will sleep with him. When he hears about this, Tony (who had been planning to propose to Irena) decides to smuggle in a shipment of contraband to earn enough for them to live on. He tries to convince Felix to help, but he turns him down (but lets him take their boat for the job). However, Tony finds the Coast Guard waiting for him and abandons the boat to avoid being arrested. At the moment, he has no choice but to run away. He is certain, though, that it was Felix who tipped off the Coast Guard, and plans to get his revenge when he returns. After some time, he decides to come back, and gets a job on a freighter. However, the freighter collides with an ocean liner in very foggy weather, which causes a beam to fall and leave him trapped. When the port doctor, Sam Blake (Bernard Lee), is brought to the ship, he feels the best chance for Tony to get out is to have his legs amputated, but Tony refuses. Wanting to give him hope, the doctor goes looking for his old friends. But will the doctor’s efforts work, as filled with hate as Tony is?

After making Miss Sadie Thompson, Rita Hayworth again left the big screen as a result of her new marriage to singer Dick Haymes. During that time, she brought a lawsuit against Columbia Pictures in an attempt to have her contract terminated, but her case ended up being thrown out of court. Left without a choice, she agreed to do two more films for Columbia. Producers Irving Allen and Albert Broccoli had gotten the film rights to the 1956 novel Fire Down Below by Max Catto, and had planned to cast actress Ava Gardner in the lead. When she turned it down, they sought out Rita Hayworth (who had gone to Europe while waiting for Columbia to come up with a good film vehicle for her), who took the part. Joined by Robert Mitchum and rising star Jack Lemmon, they went to Trinidad and Tobago to do some location filming. Originally, the film was to be presented mostly in flashback, starting with some of what is currently the last scene, but the studio put it together in chronological order. In spite of the cast, though, the movie ended up losing money at the box office.

This was my first time seeing Fire Down Below, and I definitely would have to say that I liked it. For me, all three leads gave quite good performances, which certainly helped me to keep watching the movie, especially when Jack Lemmon’s Tony gets trapped on the ship. I know I liked the song “Limbo Like Me,” which was performed by the “Stretch” Cox Troupe (and it was stuck in my head for a while after, so I can identify with Tony and Edric Connor’s Jimmy Jean having it stuck in their heads and trying to do the limbo themselves). As I hadn’t read anything on the film beforehand, I thought the whole film worked well, but, upon reading about how the studio changed things around, I find myself thinking that there are aspects that certainly would have worked better had the studio left it the way the director originally intended it to be. But, we do get Rita Hayworth doing some dancing (and even Robert Mitchum gets in on it, even if it is only to get another guy away, but it’s still hilarious to watch). This was a very entertaining drama (one I certainly think was better than its original poor box office performance would have indicated), and I have no trouble whatsoever in recommending it!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Fire Down Below (1957)

This movie is available on Blu-ray as part of the twelve film Rita Hayworth: The Ultimate Collection from Mill Creek Entertainment. This is one of the better looking films in the set. The color looks pretty good, and little (if any) dirt and debris is present. All in all, I think this set presents the best way to see this movie!

Film Length: 1 hour, 55 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Miss Sadie Thompson (1953) – Rita Hayworth – Pal Joey (1957)

Holiday Affair (1949) – Robert Mitchum – Home From The Hill (1960)

My Sister Eileen (1955) – Jack Lemmon – The Notorious Landlady (1962)

Miss Sadie Thompson (1953)Rita Hayworth: The Ultimate CollectionPal Joey (1957)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Original Vs. Remake: The Awful Truth (1937) Vs. Phffft (1954)

We’re back again for another round of “Original Vs. Remake!”  To be fair, like my original post in the series (on My Man Godfrey and Merrily We Live), this one isn’t so much on a film and its remake, but on two similar titles made over a period of time: The Awful Truth (1937) and Phffft (1954).  As usual, I will borrow my plot descriptions from the original reviews.

The Awful Truth: We find Jerry Warriner (Cary Grant) and his wife, Lucy Warriner (Irene Dunne) getting divorced, due to their suspected (but not proven) infidelities.  They try to move on, but Lucy’s attempted romance with Daniel Leeson (Ralph Bellamy) is sabotaged by Jerry’s constant interruptions.  Lucy finally realizes she loves Jerry and calls off the relationship with Daniel, only to find that Jerry has also taken up with somebody.  So Lucy decides to engage in some sabotage herself.

Phffft: After much thought, television serial writer Nina Tracy (Judy Holliday) decides she wants to divorce her lawyer husband Robert Tracy (Jack Lemmon). However, instead of the shocked reaction she expected, he announces that he had been feeling the same way. So, off she goes to Reno, Nevada, and the divorce is granted. Robert moves in with his playboy (and playwright) friend Charlie Nelson (Jack Carson), while Nina spends some time with her mother, Edith Chapman (Luella Gear). Robert and Nina both still have feelings for each other, but everybody else in their lives are trying to encourage them to move on. Nina tries to go out with one of the stars of her show, Rick Vidal (Donald Curtis), but he only wants to become the main character of the show. Robert tries going out with Charlie’s friend, Janis (Kim Novak), but it doesn’t work out well for him, either. Robert and Nina try to come back together, but they end up fighting again. Will these two be able to get along again as a couple, or will they be able to get over each other?

As I said, these two are not based on the same story (but I’ll get to that in a bit), but have quite similar stories.  They are both of the “a couple gets divorced but find themselves unable to make it stick” genre.  Getting more into the details of the story itself, both of the main female characters have an older female relative that they spend time with (Irene Dunne’s Lucy has her aunt in The Awful Truth and Judy Holliday’s Nina has her mother in Phffft).  In both of those instances, the relatives are pushing the main female character back into relationships with other men.  The main couples of these movies essentially manage to stay connected instead of going their separate ways (in The Awful Truth, Lucy has custody of their dog, but Jerry has visitation rights, and in Phffft, Robert still acts as Nina’s lawyer and helps her deal with her taxes).  As a result of them staying in contact, the couples almost come back together partway through in both stories, but something causes them to pull back apart, if only until the end of the film.

Of course, even with those similarities, these two films do manage to take different directions.  To start with, they’re not based on the same property, as The Awful Truth was based on a play of the same name by Arthur Richman (although how much of the play was retained is debatable, considering the film director’s penchant for letting his cast improvise), and Phffft was based on an unproduced play by George Axelrod.  Storywise, we find that Phffft does give us the “meet-cute” story (via flashback), while The Awful Truth doesn’t tell us anything of the sort.  Meanwhile, while the women in both films have a relative that they stay with or talk to, it’s not quite the same for the men, as Cary Grant’s Jerry more or less goes it alone (outside of his relationships), while Jack Lemmon’s Robert has his friend (played by Jack Carson) that he stays with (and gets relationship advice from).  And speaking of their separate attempts at romance, that alone is different between the two films, as The Awful Truth more or less focuses on those relationships, with little view into their outside lives (particularly their work), while we do see both of the main characters at their jobs in PhffftThe Awful Truth is marked mainly by the two characters trying to interfere in the relationships of the other, whereas no such interference actually happens in Phffft (it almost does near the end, when Robert tries to stop his friend from doing anything, but his friend has already failed his attempt and left before Robert can get there).

Getting down to which movie I prefer, it’s an easy decision: The Awful Truth.  I’ll admit Phffft does have some things going for it, as I like the characterizations given by the actors.  They give us a real relationship, with their characters displaying different personality quirks that make it more interesting.  Both films contain some dancing, which makes it fun for me, but the way it is used affects how much I enjoy it.  Phffft plays it more seriously, as both characters decide to take up learning to dance, and manage to end up at the same nightclub, where they accidentally end up dancing together. In The Awful Truth, the dancing is played up for fun, with Lucy stuck dancing a slightly “countrified” dance with Daniel, much to her embarrassment (and the amusement of both Jerry and us, the audience). But, when you ultimately get down to it, I’ll still pick the cast (and story) of The Awful Truth over Phffft. The more screwball aspects of The Awful Truth work better for this reason. When given the material to work with, Cary Grant is one of the funniest actors to see (and he got the material). Jack Lemmon is also fun, but I’ve seen him with far better material than he had here. I’ve had fun with both movies, and I would definitely recommend both, but The Awful Truth is the clear winner here for me!

The Awful Truth

Film Length: 1 hour, 31 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

Phffft

Film Length: 1 hour, 29 minutes

My Rating: 7/10

The Winner (in my opinion): The Awful Truth

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2021) on… The Notorious Landlady (1962)

For the second half of today’s Jack Lemmon double-feature, we’ve got his 1962 mystery/comedy The Notorious Landlady, which also stars Kim Novak and Fred Astaire!

Upon arriving in London, American diplomat William Gridley (Jack Lemmon) looks for a place to stay. He answers an ad from Carly Hardwicke (Kim Novak), who had some space to rent. At first, she was reluctant to rent to him, but he managed to win her over. Once that was settled, he offered to take her out for dinner that evening, after he checked in at his new job. A few weird things happen while Bill is with her, but for the moment, he makes nothing of it. The next day, he learns from his boss, Franklyn Ambruster (Fred Astaire), that Carly had been accused of killing her husband. He doesn’t believe that it’s possible, but Inspector Oliphant (Lionel Jeffries) of Scotland Yard pushes him to try and snoop around the house, looking for anything to prove her guilt or innocence. William starts to worry as a result of some things that the inspector said, but he is still certain of Carly’s innocence. That night, William and Carly try to grill some steaks outside, but accidentally start a fire. When it makes headlines, Mr. Ambruster threatens to send William away, but Carly intervenes. Now, Mr. Ambruster is also sure of her innocence, and he decides to help William try to prove it. However, that night, while William is talking to the inspector on the phone, a gunshot goes off in Carly’s room, and William finds her husband’s body (obviously, now he IS dead). At the trial, the inspector reveals that he had enlisted William’s help in spying on her (which he had to do when William tried to deflect the blame away from Carly towards himself). Carly is only exonerated when her elderly neighbor’s nurse, Agatha Brown (Philippa Bevans) testifies to Miles Hardwicke’s death being an accident. Afterwards, the nurse gets a pawn ticket from Carly, and Carly reveals to William that the ticket was for a candelabra that had some jewels in it (and was what her late husband was after). Realizing that it was her elderly neighbor, Mrs. Dunhill (Estelle Winwood), and not the nurse, that would have seen what happened, the two of them go searching for Mrs. Dunhill (especially after the nurse kills the pawnbroker). But, can they succeed, or will the two of them be arrested for this new murder (since they were seen leaving the scene of the crime)?

This is a movie that I’ve been enjoying seeing off and on for a number of years now. Fred Astaire was the main reason I saw the movie in the first place, and while his non-musical films can be hit-or-miss for me, this is one of his better ones. Even in his early 60s, he’s still in good shape, and even gets to do his own stunts/physical comedy here. And he also works with Jack Lemmon (it seems the two of them were friends offscreen)! Jack Lemmon’s antics throughout the movie generally keep me amused (but he also does well when the script calls for things to be more serious, too). And I love the score’s use of the classic Gershwin tune “A Foggy Day” (introduced by Fred Astaire nearly twenty-five years earlier in A Damsel In Distress)!

Now, do I think that this movie is perfect? No. In general, the plot kind of feels uneven, particularly within the last part of the movie as they introduce new elements and then try to wrap them up too quickly (and apparently even Jack Lemmon later on admitted to being confused about what was going on when he watched the movie on television). I also feel like the tone is a little inconsistent. It works for the majority of the film, but (again) really changes things up for the last few minutes, as it borders on farce (in and of itself, not a bad thing, but it’s still quite a shift from the rest of the movie). Still, this is a movie that I have fun with, and would recommend trying!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… The Notorious Landlady (1962)

This movie was released on Blu-ray by Sony Pictures Entertainment. While I don’t know enough to be able to tell on my own whether this is a 4K, 2K or HD scan, I will say that the picture is quite pristine, and the detail is excellent, making this Blu-ray one I don’t mind having in own collection, and one I would advise fans of the movie to look into!

Film Length: 2 hours, 3 minutes

My Rating: 7/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Fire Down Below (1957) – Jack Lemmon

Pal Joey (1957) – Kim Novak

Silk Stockings (1957)Fred Astaire

Estelle Winwood – Murder By Death (1976)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2021) on… Phffft (1954)

Today, we’ve got a Jack Lemmon double-feature, and we’re starting off with his 1954 comedy Phffft, also starring Judy Holliday, Jack Carson and Kim Novak. Of course, we have to start things off with a theatrical short, then we’ll get to the movie!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Pink Blueprint (1966)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1 (1964-1966) from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 25 seconds)

The Pink Panther competes with the Little Man on a construction site. It’s nice to see the Little Man again, and it’s that chemistry that makes this one really fun! Admittedly, in some ways it does seem to be essentially the same story as the first Pink Panther cartoon, The Pink Phink, with them both arguing about how the building is supposed to look. Still, the humor works quite well, and I enjoy watching this one with some frequency!

And Now For The Main Feature…

After much thought, television serial writer Nina Tracy (Judy Holliday) decides she wants to divorce her lawyer husband Robert Tracy (Jack Lemmon). However, instead of the shocked reaction she expected, he announces that he had been feeling the same way. So, off she goes to Reno, Nevada, and the divorce is granted. Robert moves in with his playboy (and playwright) friend Charlie Nelson (Jack Carson), while Nina spends some time with her mother, Edith Chapman (Luella Gear). Robert and Nina both still have feelings for each other, but everybody else in their lives are trying to encourage them to move on. Nina tries to go out with one of the stars of her show, Rick Vidal (Donald Curtis), but he only wants to become the main character of the show. Robert tries going out with Charlie’s friend, Janis (Kim Novak), but it doesn’t work out well for him, either. Robert and Nina try to come back together, but they end up fighting again. Will these two be able to get along again as a couple, or will they be able to get over each other?

Columbia Pictures came to playwright George Axelrod, hoping to produce a movie based on his hit play The Seven Year Itch. However, the film rights for that play were unavailable, as it had already been acquired by somebody else (however, they were contractually unable to film it until the play’s run was over). So, George Axelrod instead offered Columbia a very similar play he had written earlier, Phffft. For his screenplay, George Axelrod was rewarded with a nomination for Best Written American Comedy at the Writers Guild. Although he lost (to Roman Holiday), his career was on the upswing, as he would write a few other big screenplays over the next few years (including the aforementioned The Seven Year Itch).

For their part, Columbia Pictures decided to use the movie to pair up Judy Holliday and Jack Lemmon again after the success of their previous film together, It Should Happen To You. Now, I’ve not seen that earlier film (yet), but I will say that I did like this one! They make a fun couple, with their various quirks that at first (well, when we meet them in this movie) seem to drive each other apart, but then start to bring them back together again. Of course, we see them attempt other relationships, with the movie using (in what seems to be some of its more dated humor) almost uncomfortable situations, especially for Judy Holliday’s Nina, who keeps getting herself into trouble with men *almost* trying to sleep with her. There are some fun moments, especially with their attempts to change things up, and they do have a fun dance together partway through. I like the chemistry here, even if the rest of the movie doesn’t always quite support it as well as it should. Still, I had fun watching the movie, and I would certainly recommend giving it a shot!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Phffft (1954)

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Entertainment. The transfer for the Blu-ray has been cleaned up of most dirt and debris. The detail looks quite good, for the most part, and I would certainly say that this release is the best way to see this movie.

Film Length: 1 hour, 29 minutes

My Rating: 7/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Jack Lemmon – Mister Roberts (1955)

My Dream Is Yours (1949) – Jack Carson

Kim Novak – Pal Joey (1957)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Mister Roberts (1955)

Today, we’ve got a classic war comedy, in the form of the 1955 film Mister Roberts, starring Henry Fonda, James Cagney, William Powell and Jack Lemmon!  So, let’s enjoy our theatrical short, and then it’s on with the movie itself!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Flea Circus (1954)

(Available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 1 second)

When a stray dog walks in on a circus of fleas, the fleas all leave (except for Francois, the clown), and it’s up to him to bring more back! While it’s not quite as wacky as Tex Avery’s cartoon’s tend to be, this one is still a lot of fun! Bill Thompson, the usual voice actor for fellow Tex Avery cartoon character Droopy, voices Francois, who is not as beloved by the audiences (in the cartoon, but, obviously, we love him). This one might be more conventional, but the gags revolving around the flea acts are fun, and I enjoyed watching the cartoon overall (and will definitely be coming back to it again). Vive la France!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Life is hard for the crew of the Navy supply ship the Reluctant (or the “Bucket,” as they call it).  It’s World War II, but they are far away from all the actual combat.  They’re stationed near a South Pacific Island, but they’ve been kept on board the ship for nearly a year, with nary a liberty granted.  Worse, the ship’s captain (James Cagney) seems to enjoy spoiling the morale of all on board.  His cargo officer, Lieutenant Douglas Roberts (Henry Fonda) tries to do what he can to help the crew out, but he wants very much to be a part of the war.  He keeps trying to request a transfer, but the captain refuses to sign off on the idea.  These fights between the two are pretty much what amounts to entertainment for most of the men.  The men find themselves some new “entertainment” when some nurses arrive for the hospital on the island (and apparently shower within range of what the crew can see with their binoculars).  That ends when their laundry and morale officer, Ensign Frank Thurlowe Pulver (Jack Lemmon), brings a few of the nurses on the board the ship as he tries to spend some time with Lieutenant Ann Girard (Betsy Palmer), and the nurses realize how much the men can see.  Roberts decides to go around the captain to get the men some liberty, and gives a bribe of a bottle of scotch to an official, resulting in the ship being sent to the island of Elysium.  However, even when they arrive at the island, the captain refuses to let the men have liberty, and Roberts goes to his cabin to tell him off.  Instead, the captain makes him an offer: he will let the crew have their liberty, BUT Roberts has to stop writing transfer applications, and he must follow the captain’s orders without question (and nobody else can know about this arrangement).  Having no choice, Roberts acquiesces, and the men go ashore.  With all their pent-up energy, the men get into a lot of trouble, and the ship gets banished from the port.  Angry at this new blot on his record, the captain drags Roberts into punishing the crew, and makes it look like Roberts is “bucking for a promotion.”  With the captain now trying to drive a wedge between Roberts and the crew (and Ensign Pulver scared of the captain), will they still be as fond of Roberts?  And will he be involved in the war, or will it end before he can do anything?

The movie was based on the 1948 play Mister Roberts by Thomas Heggen and Joshua Logan (which was itself based on a novel by Thomas Heggen).  Actor Henry Fonda had left Hollywood after filming Fort Apache in 1948, and was cast in the play.  The play turned out to be a hit, but when Warner Brothers wanted to make a movie, they were hesitant to cast Henry Fonda, citing his age and lack of screen presence for a number of years as reasons.  However, director John Ford wanted him to do it, and that was that.  Still, John Ford and Henry Fonda ended up not getting along, as the director wanted to make a lot of changes, whereas Henry Fonda wanted it more like the play.  John Ford was unable to finish the film when health issues arose, and so Mervyn LeRoy stepped in to finish it (although the director of the Broadway show, Joshua Logan, also did some uncredited directing to help finish it).  While it wasn’t what some had hoped it would be (due to the changes), it still turned out to be a hit with movie audiences as well.

I’ve seen this movie once before, and it’s been a while since that first viewing, but I remembered enjoying it that first time, and it was still just as good (if not better) the second time!  The cast alone is a big enough selling point on this movie.  Even if he might have been a bit too old for the role, Henry Fonda’s performance is good enough to take your mind off that. I enjoyed watching his portrayal of a character who yearns for something better and more “important” than what he is doing, without realizing how much he means to the crew of the ship that he is on.  And James Cagney?  He’s still good, giving us another very unlikable character as the captain.  So much so, that I can’t help but cheer when Roberts goes against him (and jeer when the captain gets the upper hand).  And while it may be William Powell’s last film, his role as the ship’s doctor is still fun, as he is quick to realize when the men are trying to fake illness/injury to get out of work (and, seeing what the captain is like, I can’t blame them for trying).  And he can see Roberts’ importance to the crew.  And Jack Lemmon?  In my book, he earned his Oscar as Ensign Pulver, a man who is scared of the captain (so much so that, after fourteen months of being on the ship, the captain still didn’t know of his existence).  Obviously, his womanizing ways wouldn’t go over well with audiences today (nor should they), but, at the same time, you do want him to follow through on some of his planned pranks against the captain.  Like I say, the cast is so much fun here, and makes this movie well worth seeing!  So I would indeed highly recommend this one!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection.  This release makes use of a 4K scan of the original camera negative.  This movie was filmed in the WarnerColor process, which made it problematic in terms of restoration (and apparently, the original camera negative was quite faded as well).  So, with that in mind, what we got is indeed a wonder!  For the most part, the transfer looks wonderful, with the color looking like it should, and the detail is much improved!  There are a few shots that don’t look quite as good (whether that’s because that’s how it was filmed, or those shots required the use of inferior elements, or something else, I haven’t heard), but they are so few and far between, that this would still be the best way to see this wonderful movie!

Film Length: 2 hours, 1 minute

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Lady Eve (1941) – Henry Fonda

Love Me Or Leave Me (1955)James CagneyMan Of A Thousand Faces (1957)

Song Of The Thin Man (1947) – William Powell

Phffft (1954) – Jack Lemmon – My Sister Eileen (1955)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2018) with… My Sister Eileen (1955)

And here we are for another movie given a new disc release in 2018, the 1955 musical My Sister Eileen, starring Janet Leigh, Jack Lemmon and Betty Garrett.

Betty Garrett is Ruth Sherwood, and Janet Leigh is her sister, Eileen. Both of them have come to New York City’s Greenwich Village. There, they find an apartment to stay at, while they try to find work. Eileen hopes to become an actress, but she finds that the producers find HER interesting and not her acting. She becomes close with the manager of a local soda fountain, Frank Lippencott (Bob Fosse), who falls for her, and tries to help her out. Meanwhile, Ruth, who wants to become a writer, tries to submit her work to publisher Bob Baker (Jack Lemmon). He thinks most of her stories are bad, except for one on her sister Eileen. When he says he would like to meet her, Ruth falls victim to her own feelings of inadequacy and tells him that SHE is Eileen.

Apparently, everything came from a series of autobiographical short stories written by Ruth McKenny that was turned into a play (and then made into a movie in 1942 starring Rosalind Russell). It was brought to Broadway again in the early 50s as a musical called Wonderful Town, which prompted Columbia Pictures to make another film version. They had the rights to the story from the previous movie, but the rights to the music from Wonderful Town were apparently too expensive, so a new score was commissioned from Jule Styne and Leo Robin.

I personally think this is a wonderful movie. I am coming off my second viewing of this movie in my lifetime (not sure how long it has been since my first viewing), but I enjoyed it a lot more the second time. I still can’t really say as I care for the music itself, but I do think that it helps tell the story, so that is in its favor. The main appeal of this movie is the dancing, since Bob Fosse was in charge of the choreography. The main routines that are the most fun are the challenge dance between Bob Fosse’s Frank Lippencott and Tommy Rall’s newspaperman Chick Clark, and the song “Give Me A Band And My Baby,” where Betty Garrett, Janet Leigh, Bob Fosse and Tommy Rall are all pretending to play various invisible musical instruments. Now, this movie does have its ridiculous moments (everything connected to the “Conga” moments near the end are just nuts), but I think it all adds up to being the charm of the movie, so I would recommend this movie to everybody just for some good, clean fun!

The movie is available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time as a limited edition with 3000 total copies available through either www.screenarchives.com or www.twilighttimemovies.com and DVD from Sony.

Film Length: 1 hour, 47 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

*ranked #5 on Top 10 Disc Releases of 2018

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Holiday Affair (1949) – Janet Leigh

Mister Roberts (1955) – Jack Lemmon – Fire Down Below (1957)

On The Town (1949) – Betty Garrett

Give A Girl A Break (1953) – Bob Fosse

Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954) – Tommy Rall – Invitation To The Dance (1956)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!