MY SISTER EILEEN. Columbia, 1955. Betty Garrett, Janet Leigh, Jack Lemmon, Robert Fosse, Kurt Kasznar, Dick York, Lucy Marlow, Tommy Rall, Horace MacMahon, Hal March, Queenie Smith, Richard Deacon.

Screenplay by Blake Edwards and Richard Quine from the play by Joseph Fields and Jerome Chodorov, based on the stories by Ruth McKenny. Songs: Jule Styne and Leo Robin; choreography: Robert Fosse. Director: Richard Quine. Shown at Cinecon 40, Hollywood CA, September 2004.

   The inevitable question was asked of Betty Garrett after the screening: Why wasn’t the great Leonard Bernstein score for the Broadway success Wonderful Town used? The answer was that it was economics, that it was cheaper to commission a new score than pay for the use of Bernstein’s.

   Undoubtedly a minus, since the replacement score is undistinguished, but the gorgeous wide-screen technicolor, the charming performances by the cast (especially Garrett, Leigh, Lemmon, Fosse and Rall), and the solid merits ofthe McKenny stories contributed to a smashingly entertaining 72 minutes, with a number by Rall and Fosse, danced in an alley, that lit up the screen with some of the most exciting dancing that side of West Side Story.

   Garrett said that she most missed not being able to sing “Ohio” from the Bernstein original, but she played in the Bernstein musical on Broadway and on the road and didn’t lack for opportunities to sing it.

   I’m still a bit put off by the gradual encroachment of post-1940 films at these conventions, but the opportunity to hear Garrett talk about her career and to see such a splendid example of the fifties film musical pretty much put those concerns to rest.