Sylvia Scarlett (1935)

Approved   |    |  Comedy, Drama, Romance

Sylvia Scarlett (1935) Poster

When her father decides to flee to England, young Sylvia Scarlett must become Sylvester Scarlett and protect her father every step of the way, with the questionable help of plenty others.


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20 April 2006 | robb_772
| Very underrated; Grant steals the show
An extremely unusual little film from director George Cukor makes the odd transition from caper comedy to coming of age romance - and occasionally teeters back and forth between the two. The film was a massive flop at the box office (in order to make amends for the film's failure, Cukor and star Katharine Hepburn reportedly offered to make their next film for free), and the audiences of thirties just didn't seem to understand film's bizarre juxtaposition between gritty depression-era realism and dreamy Hollywood surrealism. In all truth, however, the film is enormously entertaining when viewed today, and its unusual tone will be better appreciated by modern audiences.

Although this is the performance that led her to be labeled by critics and theater owners as "box office poison," Hepburn is delightful in role that was quite offbeat for the time (this was 48 years before Barbra Streisand donned male drag in YENTL). Brian Aherne also delivers an endearingly off-kilter performance as Sylvia's love interest, and Edmund Gwenn is terrific in the difficult role of Sylvia's father, who must balance humor and pathos at regular intervals. Best of all is Cary Grant who flat-out nails his role as a cockney con man, and simply radiates with wit, sex appeal, and macho charisma. He alone would make the film worth watching, but, on the whole, SYLVIA SCARLETT remains a lost gem that was very much ahead of its time.

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