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Norman Z. McLeod
On a visit to a spa in the Ruritanian Kingdom of Tyronia, American financier Richard Gresham meets the country's ruler, King Anatol XII, and convinces him that he could arrange for $50 million dollars in loans to benefit his impoverished nation if the king's charming daughter could do reciprocal public relations in the States. Unfortunately Princess Catterina falls ill with the mumps and is quarantined for a month aboard ship. Rather than risk having his very lucrative endorsement deal fall through, Gresham hires out-of-work lookalike actress Nancy Lane to impersonate Catterina. Complications arise when she falls in love with investigative reporter Porter Madison, who is looking into Nancy Lane's disappearance. She tries to maintain the precariously delicate balance of playing the two parts convincingly with both the loan and her heart at stake. Written by
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »
THIRTY DAY PRINCESS (Paramount, 1934), directed by Marion Gering, is a lighthearted comedy starring Sylvia Sidney as Princess Catterina of Taronia coming to New York City to seal a loan for her homeland. Upon her arrival by ship, she acquires the mumps and is unable to create favorable public opinion for a proposed bond issue. Richard M. Gresham (Edward Arnold), a financial banker for her father, King Anotol (Henry Stephenson), whom he met earlier taking a mud bath, hires detectives to locate a substitute. They find one in Nancy Lane (Sylvia Sidney), a Idaho farm girl struggling to find work as a stage actress, who happens to be an exact double of the stricken princess. While impersonating the princess, Nancy meets Porter Madison II (Cary Grant), a newspaper publisher for the Star Express who, at first, is against Gresham's granting a large foreign loan, but has a change of heart when he becomes very much interested in the "princess," who turns out to be engaged to the bumbling Prince Basseria Nicholeus (Vince Barnett). Subsequent merry mix-ups add to the simple fun of the story.
What's rare about this seldom revived comedy is that it's Sylvia Sidney's only opportunity on screen in both comedy and assuming a dual role. Usually type-cast as a poor working girl struggling to fight the Depression, or a hard-luck girl in love with the wrong type of guy, THIRTY DAY PRINCESS is a welcome change of pace for Sidney, who handles this comedic assignment quite well. A pity she didn't do more comedies, even in the "screwball" genre of the mid thirties. THIRTY DAY PRINCESS marked Sidney's third and final opportunity appearing opposite Cary Grant, their best known collaboration being MADAME BUTTERFLY (Paramount, 1932), also directed by Marion Gering.
The supporting cast includes Lucien Littlefield (Parker); George Baxter (Donald Spottswood); Edgar Norton )The Baron); and Robert McWade (The Managing Editor). Preston Sturges, a future comedy director for Paramount in the 1940s, is credited for the screenplay.
THIRTY DAY PRINCESS has some bright comedic moments, many belonging to Sidney, including one where she does her own impersonation of Nancy as a sassy, gum-chewing secretary; and where impersonator Nancy Lane comes face to face with her look-alike princess, offering movie-goers two Sylvia Sidney's for the price of one.
Not quite on the hilarious side, but confidentially, a cute comedy that holds up quite satisfactory for 73 minutes. Even though it's not as well known as other comedies from this era, it's still worth viewing for the presence of Sidney and Grant, each succeeding in making THIRTY DAY PRINCESS to appear both original and entertaining fun. Never distributed to home video, availability has turned up in 2006 in the DVD format as a Cary Grant double feature package along with Paramount's other forgotten comedy, KISS AND MAKE-UP (1934) (**1/2)
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