My Sister Eileen (1942)

Rosalind Russell earned her first Oscar nomination for her role as Ruth Sherwood, an aspiring writer trapped in a basement apartment in Greenwich Village with so many crazy neighbors and passersby it’s not the least surprising when the Three Stooges pop up. Russell had already established her credentials as the screen’s premiere career woman in His Girl Friday (1940). When Columbia Pictures picked up the rights to this hit stage comedy, there really was no other choice to play Ruth. Ruth McKenney’s stories first appeared in The New Yorker in 1934, then were compiled as My Sister Eileen in 1938. The stage version opened to rave reviews in 1940 and was still playing when the film premiered two years later. Janet Blair got her first big break on screen as Russell’s sister, with Brian Aherne as the editor who comes courting and future director Richard Quine recreating his stage role as an amorous soda jerk. June Havoc drops in as the former tenant whose wild ways keep getting the sisters in trouble. Twenty years later, Russell would play Havoc’s real-life mother in Gypsy (1962).

Dir. Alexander Hall

In attendance: Lance Brisson