My Sister Eileen

I went out to work, and while I was there it rained a little bit. I heard the news that Barry Zito was returning to the A’s. I took out the umbrella as I returned home. I watched the DVD of “My Sister Eileen,” the 1955 version starring Janet Leigh, Jack Lemmon, and Betty Garrett. When I saw it many years ago on the late show, I didn’t realize that people like Richard Quine, Bob Fosse, and Blake Edwards were involved in the production. I enjoyed watching it again. It made me think of “The Seven Year Itch,” since it had the men pursuing the pretty young blonde. One of the curious thoughts I had was that Walgreens had the same logo sixty years ago that it has now. Bob Fosse played Frank Lippencott, the soda fountain manager. There is no job like that nowadays, not even in my neighborhood. I liked seeing the wide screen images and the color photography. I did keep thinking that songs by Comden and Green would have made for a stronger movie. The original intention was to have Judy Holliday in Betty Garrett’s part. I guess it could have boosted the movie a bit. Dick York played the part of an athlete, and he was in the credits as Richard York. I thought it was fun to see him in something other than the Bewitched television series for once. Janet Leigh’s character is supposed to have a power over men, but I didn’t really see that it was there. I kept imagining what the picture would have been like if Kim Novak or Marilyn Monroe had been in the role. I thought the dancing sequences were quite good. The plot was not so inspiring, with the women searching for work and the Lemmon character taking an interest in Betty. I liked the wacky bit with the Brazilian Navy and the conga. I thought that one change in the plot today might be that Janet would have taken that job at the burlesque house. I thought that Bob Fosse was OK as an actor, although Frank’s personality clashes greatly with the image of Fosse I have from “All That Jazz.” I still like that movie because it is about struggle. The characters aren’t fat cats with trivial complaints. I don’t know why the sisters didn’t find a way to cover the window, or why the plumber wasn’t more careful with the spaghetti on the stove. In fact, I wondered about that spaghetti. They weren’t preparing it the normal way. I first saw Betty Garrett on television, and so I didn’t know that she had appeared in all those musical years before. She was before talented than I had realized from watching those shows. It’s sad to think that the principal actors in “My Sister Eileen” have all died: Bob Fosse in 1987, Dick York in 1992, Jack Lemmon in 2001, Janet Leigh in 2004, and Betty Garrett in 2011. I found it hard to read about Janet Leigh’s last days, with the gangrene in her right hand and the appearance at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. I like watching movies like “My Sister Eileen” because they are mementos of a time past. I take some comfort in thinking back to when Janet Leigh and Jack Lemmon were still alive and entertaining us. Some of the people who died on September 17 include Akim Tamiroff (1972), Richard Basehart (1984), Red Skelton (1997), and Sheb Wooley (2003). Today is a birthday for Cassandra Peterson (64) and Phil Jackson (70). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for September 17, “Mission: Impossible” had its television premiere in 1966. In 1967, The Who appeared on the Smothers Brothers television show. In 1980, the Bette Midler concert film “Divine Madness” was released.

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