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Sisters (Betty Garrett & Janet Leigh) who live in a Greenwich Village basement apartment, find themselves mixed up with A magazine publisher (Jack Lemmon) who gives Ruth (Leigh) her big chance as a writer.
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This set includes four films: If You Could Only Cook (1935), Too Many Husbands (1940), My Sister Eileen (1942), She Wouldn't Say Yes (1945) All of these were made after the pre-code era ended, and they're pretty hard to find or see unless you have Turner Classic Movies, which has had access to the "Columbia B's" since 2007. In fact, that's the way I was able to see two of the four.
"Too Many Husbands" - directed by Wesley Ruggles - is reminiscent of "My Favorite Wife", except this time it is the husband that was shipwrecked and presumed dead. Jean Arthur is the wife, Fred McMurray plays husband number one, and Melvyn Douglas plays husband number two. Another departure is that here the wife has been remarried for a year versus "My Favorite Wife" where the second marriage has barely started.
"If You Could Only Cook" has Herbert Marshall playing an automobile executive who is bored with his life. While sitting on a park bench one day he is mistaken by a cook as one of the many unemployed. She wants to apply for a different job, but that job require a cook/butler husband/wife team. She asks Marshall's character to apply for the job with her and pose as her husband. He decides this is just the change of pace he is looking for. The problem is they are not married and they are required to share a room with one double bed.
"My Sister Eileen" stars Rosalind Russell as an aspiring writer who moves from Ohio to New York to pursue her dream. She takes along her younger and very attractive sister, and the two wind up sharing a basement apartment where they are subjected to a parade of the friends and clients of ex-tenants and a less than honest landlord. If you liked Rosalind in her other screwball comedy roles you'll like this film.Read more ›
In my earlier review of the color musical remake of "My Sister Eileen" My Sister Eileen I discussed at some length the many superior charms of the (then) unavailable Rosalind Russell version of "My Sister Eileen", and complained of its absence from DVD. Well at last the outstanding 1942 "My Sister Eileen" with Rosalind Russell in absolute top form is available on DVD. Following sensational roles in 1939's "The Women", and 1940's "His Girl Friday", Russell's hilarious performance as the no-nonsense big sister of beautiful Eileen earned Russell her first (of four) Oscar nominations. Not until Auntie Mame would she again touch such comedic heights. If you enjoy Russell in any of those films you're in for a treat here.
"If You Could Only Cook", a 1935 Jean Arthur feature, is the charming runner-up in this four film set. A very brief film, even for the age of double features, the film premiered as an 'A' at Christmas in 1935 and won good notices. A classic thirties Cinderella story, with Arthur as struggling shop girl, the film's delights are nicely divided between the irrepressibly attractive Arthur, and the rest of a small and fine cast. Herbert Marshall plays an automobile tycoon, who meets and his charmed by the lovely Jean while cooling his heels in the park following an argument with his board of directors. Intriqued by the penniless Arthur's determination to find a job, he keeps his own status a secret, and when she mistakes him for a fellow down and out, he goes along. The only possible job offering Arthur can find calls for a couple, a cook and butler, and when Marshall decides to tag along of course things go from there.Read more ›
MY SISTER EILEEN was Columbia's answer when they could not secure the film rights to WONDERFUL TOWN, the hugely-successful Broadway musical version of Ruth McKenney's "Eileen Stories". Columbia had previously filmed MY SISTER EILEEN to acclaim in 1942 with Rosalind Russell as Ruth and Janet Blair as Eileen. Roz later wowed Broadway when she made her musical Ruth debut in WONDERFUL TOWN in 1953 (playing the role again for a TV version of the tuner in 1957). This musical version of MY SISTER EILEEN features a score that cannot even compare with that for WONDERFUL TOWN (despite the music by Jule Styne - `Mr Broadway Overture' himself).
Betty Garrett is good casting for the role of plain-speaking Ruth, and Janet Leigh makes the role of flirty Eileen her own. Jack Lemmon plays Ruth's boss Bob Baker (he has a charming musical style) whilst Bob Fosse and Tommy Rall play two suitors competing for Eileen's hand. Dick York (of `Bewitched' fame) plays the girls' helpful footballing-neighbour Wreck and Kurt Kasznar plays the double-talking landlord Appopolous to perfection. A great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
The DVD presents a great new anamorphic print of the film. Extras consist of the original trailer plus trailers of other classic Columbia releases.
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Most folks will pay attention to this film becuase it's an early piece by choreographer Bob Fosse -- but it is a fun bit of froth that easily stands on its own. An absolutely delightful musical comedy, starring Betty Garrett as a smart smalltown girl determined to make it in New York City. She moves there with her with her glamourous, ditzy sister Eileen, whose good looks open more doors than do Garrett's brains and moxie. A nice film about struggling to get ahead in the Big Apple, with a script that takes its time and several exuberently goofy dance numbers, gleefully choreographed by a young Bob Fosse, who also plays one of the sister's avid suitors. The penultimate dance scene is side-splittingly hilarious, featuring a swarm of recently disembarked Cuban sailors on the prowl for American women, who form an inexhaustable conga line that snakes chaotically through the gal's tiny apartment. Thoroughly entertaining... a great, lighthearted film with some fabulous acting and bright, winning performances by all involved.
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