Escaping to England from a French embezzlement charge, widower Henry Scarlett is accompanied by daughter Sylvia who, to avoid detection, "disguises" herself as a boy, "Sylvester." They are ... See full summary »
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Edward Everett Horton
Escaping to England from a French embezzlement charge, widower Henry Scarlett is accompanied by daughter Sylvia who, to avoid detection, "disguises" herself as a boy, "Sylvester." They are joined by amiable con man Jimmy Monkley, then, after a brief career in crime, meet Maudie Tilt, a giddy, sexy Cockney housemaid who joins them in the new venture of entertaining at resort towns from a caravan. Through all this, amazingly no one recognizes that Sylvia is not a boy...until she meets handsome artist Michael Fane, and drama intrudes on the comedy. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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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