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1955’s MY SISTER EILEEN ($20) is a genuine musical comedy delight that reworks Columbia’s original 1942 version of the film, which in itself was based upon the Broadway play of the same name that just happened to have been adapted from a series of articles by Ruth McKenney, which recount the humorous exploits of her lovely younger sister Eileen, who attracted men, like flowers attract bees. Director Richard Quine, who had a leading role in the 1942 version of MY SISTER EILEEN, co-wrote the 1955 version with Blake Edwards, and the duo hit just the right note with their lighthearted and amusing adaptation of the material. Speaking of hitting the right note, MY SISTER EILEEN features some fine songs by Jule Styne and Leo Robin, not to mention the spirited chorography of a young Bob Fosse- musical fans with get a kick out of the dance off between Fosse and Tommy Rall. One other thought, considering some of the talent involved, MY SISTER EILEEN almost seems like it should be an MGM musical, instead of one coming off the Columbia back lot.

The plot of MY SISTER EILEEN follows the arrival of Ruth Sherwood (Betty Garrett) and her sister Eileen (Janet Leigh) in New York’s Greenwich Village. Ruth and Eileen are a pair of Ohio natives, who have come to New York to pursue their respective dreams of become a writer and actress. With little money, the still green Ohio sisters are hornswoggled into taking a basement apartment that offers them little privacy, as well as being directly over a new subway tunnel, where construction crews blast away with dynamite at regular intervals. Of course, romance quickly ensues for both sisters, with Ruth attracting the attention of magazine executive Bob Baker (Jack Lemmon) and Eileen attracting just about ever other man in New York, but especially soda jerk Frank Lippincott (Bob Fosse). The cast of MY SISTER EILEEN also features Kurt Kasznar, Dick York, Lucy Marlow, Barbara Brown, Horace McMahon and Richard Deacon.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made MY SISTER EILEEN available on DVD in a 2.55:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is a really nice looking transfer the produces a generally sharp and nicely defined image. There is some softness here and there, as well as other minor anomalies, but these are primarily related to the film’s optical fades and other process shots. Colors are pretty vibrant and give a really nice impression of what an original IB Technicolor print might have looked like. There are some weaknesses in the colors, but again, these are related to the film’s opticals. Blacks appear accurate, whites are crisp and contrast is pretty smooth. The elements from which the film has been transferred are fairly clean, with only minor blemishes remaining evident. Some noticeable grain creeps up here and there, but it is never objectionable. Digital compression artifacts are always well contained.

MY SISTER EILEEN comes with a Dolby Digital 4.0 channel soundtrack. This is the big stereo sound that was designed to fill those wonderful movie palaces or yore, and it comes across quite nicely at home. The forward soundstage is totally dominant, with really nifty musical separations across the front. Fidelity is very good for a fifty-year-old movie, with the music having a genuine sense of presence, without any harshness and a decent bottom end. Vocals are quite pleasing on the musical numbers, plus the dialogue is crisp and always understandable. Most signs of background hiss and noise have been cleaned up in the mastering process, which leaves a generally smooth sounding track. No other language tracks are provided, but English and Japanese subtitles have been included.

The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a theatrical trailer, plus bonus trailers for IT SHOULD HAPPEN TO YOU, BYE BYE BIRDIE and BORN YESTERDAY.

MY SISTER EILEEN is an old-fashioned musical comedy delight that has been given a really nice presentation on DVD. If you are a fan of the genre or the film’s stars, you’ll want to add MY SISTER EILEEN to your personal library.



My Sister Eileen (1955)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2005 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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