(director: Gordon Douglas; screenwriters: Lenore J. Coffee/Julius J. Epstein/story ‘Sister Act’ by Fannie Hurst; cinematographer: Ted D. McCord; editor: William H. Ziegler; cast: Dorothy Malone (Fran Tuttle), Elisabeth Fraser (Amy Tuttle), Doris Day (Laurie Tuttle), Frank Sinatra (Barney Sloan), Gig Young (Alex Burke), Ethel Barrymore (Aunt Jessie Tuttle), Robert Keith (Gregory Tuttle), Alan Hale Jr. (Robert Neary), Frank Ferguson (Bartell), Lonny Chapman (Ernest Nichols); Runtime: 117; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Henry Blanke; Warner Bros.; 1954)

“Glossy and slick musical remake of the 1938’s Four Daughters.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Glossy and slick musical remake of the 1938’s Four Daughters, a romantic drama that was taken from the 1924 story ‘Sister Act’ by Fannie Hurst but here comes with only three daughters. It’s written by Lenore J. Coffee and Julius J. Epstein, and directed by Gordon Douglas (“The Detective”/”They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!”/”Robin and the 7 Hoods”). Frank Sinatra, following his triumph in From Here To Eternity, is in the John Garfield role. The other star was Doris Day, who was coming off her success in Calamity Jane.

In suburban Connecticut, widowed music professor Gregory Tuttle (Robert Keith), living in a house Andy Hardy could proudly call home, has three single daughters, the oldest Fran (Dorothy Malone), the middle one Amy (Elisabeth Fraser) and the youngest Laurie (Doris Day), who share his love of chamber music. There’s also a spinster sister named Jessie (Ethel Barrymore), who acts as the cook and maid. Fran announces she’s engaged to wealthy nice guy but chubby realtor Bob Neary (Alan Hale Jr.). Later that spring day the cocky Alex Burke (Gig Young), a New York composer whose dad was best friends with Mr. Tuttle, gets invited to stay as a boarder while he writes a Broadway score he was commissioned to complete by the fall. Alex and Laurie become an item, as her sisters eye the hunk and are jealous. To help arrange his music, Alex invites his ill-mannered talented but hard-luck and bitter urban friend Barney Sloan (Frank Sinatra) to work on the arrangement. Amy feels left out, as she wards off the advances of the genial boss man plumber Ernie (Lonny Chapman) who can’t take his eyes off her but has no culture. After much to do about the sister’s romantic problems, Laurie jilts Alex on her wedding day. Alex takes it like a man and puts his energy into becoming a success, while Fran learns to love her rich hubby and Amy finds that Ernie is not so bad after all and plans on tying the knot with him. Meanwhile the self-pitying Barney feels unloved and tries to kill himself by driving blindly in a snowstorm. But the downbeat ending suddenly vanishes and its spring a year later, and we’re shamelessly led to believe that the recovered sour apple Barney’s chilling at home playing the piano and the sweet Laurie is all smiles as she stands near her redeemed man.

The phony happy ending seemed unearned, the updated story still seemed lost in an older era and the whining Frank romancing the rosy Doris seemed not only hard to digest but outright unbelievable.

These fine songs come out of this mostly melodramatic work: the title song, ‘Just One Of Those Things,’ ‘There’s a Rising Moon,’ ‘One for My Baby’ and ‘Someone To Watch Over Me.’