Thursday, 13 August 2009

My Sister Eileen (1942)

Last night another film from the “Icons of Screwball Comedy”. This is the story of two sisters’ misadventures of in New York, one very pretty and blonde, and very successful with men, the other not so much. Only “My Sister Eileen” is not really a screwball comedy, despite being a very funny comedy in parts and despite Rosalind Russell's presence. But that isn’t the film worst fault – it has been adapted from a stage play and it shows. You can even see where the acts would break. Ok, in the beginning, they do open the story, but soon you’re nearly always in the same set. And no, I’ve never seen or read the play. The second fault of the film is the casting and performance of the actress playing the sister Eileen. I supposed she’s meant to be a sweet ingénue, but at moments she comes out rather unpleasant and calculating.

Now, let’s talk about what makes the film worth watching (other than it is actually funny) – two words: Rosalind Russell. She’s fantastic. Her expressions priceless, her timing almost as good as in “His Girl Friday”, but definitely suffering for not having Cary Grant as a counterpart. In a fair world, the only reason I can think she might not have won the Oscar she so deserved here, is because that same year Bette Davis gave one of her seminal performances in “Now, Voyager”. The Academy being the Academy gave it to Greer Garson for Mrs Miniver. Let’s blame that one on WWII and leave it at that.

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