Movie Mirrors Index

My Sister Eileen

(1955 c 107')

En: 6 Ed: 5

Based on a play by Joseph Fields, a writer and her pretty sister Eileen come to New York and look for jobs, and Eileen attracts several men.

         Ruth Sherwood (Betty Garrett) and her sister Eileen Sherwood (Janet Leigh) arrive in Greenwich Village, and Papa Appopolous (Kurt Kasznar) shows them a studio apartment with a piano for $65. They take it. As he is leaving, they hear a loud explosion that rattles the walls. He explains they are building a subway. Eileen tells Ruth she is attractive too and will find a man. While Eileen is in the bathroom, Ruth sings “As Soon As They See Eileen.” With cold cream on her face she goes outside, and a little boy runs away. Wreck Loomis (Dick York) walks in, and they cover up. He says he and Helen don’t see each other much. He leaves, and they go to bed; but the street lamp shines in the window. A street cleaner goes by and sprays Ruth. Two drunks look in their window and talk to them until a policeman makes them move on. The policemen advises the sisters to move out because he does not tolerate that stuff.

         In the morning Wreck hangs up clothes outside, and Helen (Lucy Marlow) talks to him from a window. Wreck tells Ruth that he plays pro football. Ruth says she has a letter introducing her to a magazine. Eileen is an actress. Wreck points out the subway. Ruth and Eileen complain to Papa about the lack of hot water. Papa says they need only confidence and patience. He is a painter and sings “I’m Great” (but no one knows it). Papa and Wreck get them to say, “I’m great,” and they all sing.

         Eileen goes in Walgreens, and men notice her. On the street Ruth drops her papers, and men ignore her. Eileen goes in an office where five women are waiting; but Wallace, who is casting, decides to see her right away. Ruth goes into an office and has a letter of introduction to Bob Baker, but she is told he is going on vacation. Bob Baker (Jack Lemmon) walks through and says goodbye to the secretaries. He kisses Ruth and gets in the elevator with her. She asks if he read her stories. He expected a spinster because her love stories are depressing. He advises her to write what she is familiar with, and she corrects his grammar. He gets in a cab and goes.

         Eileen tells a soda jerk that they were interested in her but not in her acting. Frank Lippincott (Bob Fosse) says he gets information on auditions and invites her to come in there everyday. Ruth and Eileen walk home slowly singing “I’m Great.” A mailman brings Ruth’s stories back in envelopes. Ruth says they are almost out of money but have two return tickets to Ohio. Eileen says she invited Frank for dinner.

         Frank tells Eileen about an audition and gives her the address. Reporter Chick Clark (Tommy Rall) meets Eileen and says he will fix it up for her. Frank warns her about him. The three walk to the audition. Eileen invites Chick for dinner to meet her sister, and she asks them to wait outside for her. Chick and Frank do hat tricks and start dancing. Eileen comes out and angrily says they wanted her to strip.

         Ruth comes in to see Baker, who says she has talent. He says her story “My Sister Eileen” is wonderful because she observed it firsthand. He wants to know who she is. Ruth says she is Eileen and the frustrated spinster. She says she used literary license. He asks why she did not get married. She says she had to think of her career. He invites her to have dinner with him. She says she has an engagement. He offers to drive her home, but she thanks him and leaves.

         Eileen is cooking spaghetti. Ruth comes in and says Mr. Baker liked her story and invited her to dinner. Ruth says she did not accept. Eileen says she invited Chick and Wreck for dinner. Helen and Wreck come in, and they say her mother is coming and does not know that he is living with her. They ask if Wreck could stay with them for a couple days, and Eileen says yes. Ruth and Eileen discuss meeting the right man, and Eileen sings “There’s Nothin’ Like Love.” She says a hero will sweep Ruth off her feet. Eileen plays a man, and they dance. Ruth sings too. Frank arrives and meets Ruth while Eileen is getting dressed. Eileen comes in, and Frank says he did not know. They hear an explosion, and Chick comes in and says he did not know about the deal either. They sit down. Frank gives wine to Eileen. Frank gets sprayed by the street cleaner at the window. Papa comes in with a plumber and apologizes. The policeman looks in and tells them to keep their noses clean. Ruth shows the meatballs have plaster in them. Chick offers to take them out for steak. Eileen asks if they could go to El Morocco, but Ruth says it is very expensive. Chick takes them anyway.

         Eileen dances with Chick, who wants to leave with her. She says he is supposed to be with Ruth. Frank and Ruth talk. Ruth advises Frank not to be fainthearted. Ruth sees Bob Baker come in, and she hides. He talks to her under the table and then introduces Miss Stewart. Miss Stewart talks about her successful modeling; but Bob is more interested in Ruth as the four are leaving.

         Ruth walks barefoot, and they see a bandstand. They pantomime playing musical instruments, and Ruth sings “Give Me a Band and My Baby.” They all dance and sing.

          Bob’s secretary tells him that the woman in the story is not the same as the author. Bob calls Ruth and asks who the beautiful blonde is. He invites her for dinner at his place, and she takes his address. At his place they laugh, and she says he is a good cook. He gives her a drink. She asks about the story and says she may have to go back to Columbus. He says he might be able to let her know tonight. He compliments her on her intelligence and education, and he is glad that she does not want to get married. He drinks to her and sings “It’s Bigger Than You and Me.” He puts his hands on her, and she gets up. He says he is like the men in Eileen’s life. She says Eileen did not handle men the way he thinks. She asks for a dime for the subway and gets in the elevator.

         In the patio Frank asks Eileen if she has to go back home. She says yes unless something happens tomorrow. Frank says he has saved some money, and he hopes she can stay a little longer so that something could happen. She says something just did happen, says goodnight and goes in. He puts a heart on a tree and sings “There’s Nothin’ Like Love” as Eileen watches him. He turns and sees her. They dance, and he kisses her. Wreck asks Eileen if she is okay. Frank asks why he is sleeping in her apartment, and she tries to explain. Frank says he is surprised that they are so Bohemian. She gets angry and goes in. Ruth comes in, and Eileen says Frank accused her of being a loose woman. Ruth says Bob took that for granted, but she says he is beautiful. Ruth says she has been acting like an idiot. She says they didn’t make it.

         Eileen and Ruth are packing, and Wreck offers to help. Papa comes in to take inventory. Eileen asks for their money back, and Papa says he does not remember the agreement. Ruth gets a call from Chick’s newspaper and says she will be there. Ruth tells Eileen she got an assignment. She rushes out and tells Papa they may not be leaving. Eileen tells Wreck, and Chick comes in with a bottle. He says he managed to get her sister out of the way. He is letting Ruth cover his assignment. He puts his arms around Eileen, and she calls for help. Wreck comes in, and Chick leaves. Eileen cries and says she is upset because of Ruth. Wreck consoles her, and Helen sees them through the window and slaps him.

         Bob calls, and Eileen answers, informing him that she has a sister. Seven sailors chase Ruth into the apartment, and they dance the Conga with Ruth, Eileen, and Papa. An explosion sends them running for cover. People come in and join the party. The policeman has them arrested. Wreck asks to see Helen. The Brazilian consul gets them released, and Wreck asks for a favor. In jail Eileen tells Ruth she wants to be like her. Helen’s mother is not bailed out, and the others are released.

         Bob comes in and identifies Ruth and Eileen. He tells Eileen to unpack and follows Ruth who ran out crying. Bob says Eileen is very attractive, and he would like to run her picture with the story. He kisses Ruth and says she is funny, wonderful, and beautiful. Frank brings Eileen a box of chocolates, and they embrace. Papa gets them to go in the street to see the Brazilian navy. Ruth mentions the Conga, and they all start dancing in the street.

         This musical comedy satirizes how much a woman’s physical beauty can affect men and shows the difficulty a sister may have because of the comparison. The problems of an apartment in Greenwich Village, is also a source of miserable fun.

Copyright © 2009 by Sanderson Beck

Movie Mirrors Index

BECK index