As I have mentioned in the past, Soundies producers were totally supportive of and invested in the America war effort. The Soundies catalogue is full of up-tempo films meant to increase the patriotic fervor. But there were exceptions, and this Soundie is one of them.
“My Sister and I” was a mournful ballad by tunesmiths Hy Zaret, Joan Whitney and Alex Kramer. The song, purportedly inspired by Dirk van der Heide book of the same name, tells the story of a Dutch boy and his sister who have fled Holland after the Nazi invasion.
The song was recorded by Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman and Bob Chester. The Dorsey version was #1 on the Billboard charts in June 1941. Three months earlier Jimmy’s band, with Bob Eberly singing the lyrics, had recorded and filmed the song for Phonovision, one of the early Soundies competitors. The musical short received extremely limited release at the time, and it was in 1943 that it was purchased by Soundies Distributing Corporation and re-released under the Soundies banner.
My Sister and I is an uncomfortable film, both mournful and tuneful, and Bob Eberly doesn’t know what to do with himself. He is clearly caught between the tragic lyrics and the fact that he is supposed to be a congenial vocalist on stage. The is not a tune for smiles, but this is pretty much what is he forced to do at times. Toots Camarata knew better than to include any jazz solos in the arrangement. Eberly and the words tell the sad story, and that is all that is necessary.