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 »
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
According to her autobiography, lead actress Carroll Baker was concerned about the film's script early in production and requested that a new writer be hired. The front office suggested she involve herself with only "girly" concerns, such as choosing the correct handbag for each scene, then stocked her studio dressing room with dozens the next day. Baker responded by slinging them out the door one by one, and later wrote, "Sylvia turned out to be one woman who never carried a handbag." See more »
In library sequence, none of books are marked with Dewey Decimal System coding or other markings that would enable anyone to easily find or shelve books. See more »
E.V. Cunningham's book becomes a glossy potboiler typical of its era, with George Maharis well-cast as an L.A. detective assigned by millionaire Peter Lawford to uncover the life-secrets of Lawford's enigmatic fiancée, poetess and ace gardener Carroll Baker. As Maharis probes the lengthy case, each "witness" reveals a portion of the girl's sordid past in an episodic format--with the ethics involved in such an unmasking (as well as a growing love for his subject) overtaking the private eye just before his report is due. Will he turn the girl's secrets over, or will he attempt to woo her himself? Gordon Douglas directs the film in a hopelessly square, old-fashioned style; even with its adult overtures, the picture still looks like a rerun of TV's "Burke's Law". However, Maharis, dark and muscular, connects with the audience simply by keeping a cool head and a civil tongue (he rises far above the material), and Baker is also fine, although her jaded, non-musical voice puts a wall up between her and the viewer. Supporting players come and go in "guest" spots, with Ann Southern standing out as a trampy lush and Viveca Lindfors puzzling--yet startlingly so--as a librarian (she seems to have had a crush on Sylvia--but also flirts with Maharis!). Douglas manages to steer the picture away from camp, though there is a drag queen "madame" in attendance and a ridiculous scene wherein Baker fights back kinky customer Lloyd Bochner (he pays her off to keep quiet, yet she emerges with only a cut on her cheek). David Raksin's score is cheaply extravagant, much like the film, and there are some intriguing and enjoyable moments, though it overstays its welcome. **1/2 from ****
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