Sylvia West is a young poetess engaged to Frederic Summers, an eccentric millionaire. Summers, a man who always fears he is being loved for his money, decides to make a small check on his ... See full summary »
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Sylvia West is a young poetess engaged to Frederic Summers, an eccentric millionaire. Summers, a man who always fears he is being loved for his money, decides to make a small check on his prospective bride. The results of this check completely shock him. Not one fact matches 'his' Sylvia. Intregued and bewildered, Summers hires detective Alan Maklin and has him make a thorough investigation on 'Who Is Sylvia.' Written by
The filmic trope of presenting a mystery woman to the viewer through the recollections of her friends and lovers has a long history. Perhaps "Laura" is the most famous. A much lesser-known one is the British "Woman in Question." "Sylvia" is in that tradition: a wealthy man wants to find out about the background of his fiancée, Sylvia, so hires a private detective to investigate. As the P.I. encounters people from Sylvia's past, the stories that they tell him are the flashback elements of the film. There's a very touching episode with Viveca Lindfors, as well as one with Ann Sothern. While the film is somewhat desultory in its pacing, it's got some great folks-Edmund O'Brien, Joanne Dru, etc.--and a suitably disengaged performance from Carroll Baker in the title role. It actually works well for the character, who throughout a series of tawdry experiences has kept a part of herself removed and untouched. We also get to see a well-toned George Maharis with his pajama top off--another reason to catch the film if it ever shows up.
David Raksin, who composed the score for "Laura," some twenty years earlier, provides a nice score for "Sylvia" (note the use of the waltz from William Wyler's "Carrie"--also a Paramount film-- in the scene at the restaurant with Sothern and Maharis).
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