8 August 2020 | joe-pearce-1
Typecasting Can Be a Curse to Natural Tragediennes!
I've always loved Sylvia Sidney. I started going to the movies the year her last leading lady performance (LOVE FROM A STRANGER) was made, but I didn't see it then and it was only in revivals in the 1950s and occasional showings of some of her 1930s films on TV that I discovered her. I was amazed at how good she was even when only 21 or 22 years of age, and I thought she was just about the prettiest actress in the world at the time. Problem is, time didn't treat that prettiness too well, and when you saw her after the age of, say, 45 or so, it was hard to see even a trace of that prettiness. No problem, though, for she was a great actress and, I think with proper allowances in casting, she might today be one of the true legends of Hollywood's 1930s era. Well, we'll just have to settle for talent. I'm writing this, though, to say that one is never too old to learn. Although Sidney could be hilariously tough and ballsy in her later years, I had not known she had ever made even one comedy in her starring Hollywood years. And now, after 70-plus years of rather intense movie watching, I have finally seen THIRTY DAY PRINCESS, with a performance by her that is all charm and fun and light and prettiness personified. I can't imagine anyone, not even Colbert or Lombard or Stanwyck, could have done it any better. Truly, I have had her so associated with tragedy and poverty and murder and all the other good things of Hollywood Melodramatic Life, that I kept expecting someone to stab her or toss her down a flight of stairs, but nobody ever did. So, I learned that Sylvia could do comedy at a time when just about nobody would let her, and I am a better-informed movie-lover for it today. As for the film itself, she and Cary Grant and Edward Arnold give it exactly what it needs, and it should be far better known today than it is. She was a wonderful actress and, lest I forget to say it one more time, so damned pretty - not beautiful, just so damned pretty.