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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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sylvia: West (Karoki, Kay, Carlyle)
Alan Macklin
Jane (Bronson) Phillips
Frederic Summers
Irma Olanski
Oscar Stewart
Jonas Karoki
Mrs. Argona / Grace Argona
Bruce Stamford III
Paul Gilbert ...
Lola Diamond
Big Shirley
Paul Wexler ...
Peter Memel
Father Gonzales
Connie Gilchrist ...
Molly Baxter


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 filmfactsman

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

based on novel | See All (1) »


Carroll Baker is the Fury. George Maharis is the Force. Sylvia is the Explosion!




Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





| |

Release Date:

12 March 1965 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Das Vorleben der Sylvia West  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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 »


Referenced in A Patch of Blue (1965) See more »


Love and Learn
Lyrics by Ira Gershwin
Music by Harold Arlen
Sung by Paul Anka
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Piece by piece construction of a leading lady, with gobs of fascinating character actors
12 July 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Sylvia (1965)

A movie far out of its time, yet ahead of its genre. By 1965 this kind of small black and white film had migrated to television productions, or had disappeared. While clearly low budget without any stars, it keeps a tight formal structure and strong production throughout. And the idea, gradually piecing together someone's identity, makes for a great movie.

Even if it does borrow, in terms of structure only, from "Citizen Kane," no less. That is, an investigator is set off to learn who the real Sylvia is, and by meeting with one important contact after another, and going through a series of well done flashbacks, we are able to piece together the complicated life of the title character. The biggest difference from Kane (besides virtuosic style) is that Sylvia is an ordinary person. Or she seems ordinary until you learn in stages the nuances and integrity of her survival.

There are many things left unanswered, and I'm not sure that's totally for the best. We never quite understand her meandering through dramatic (and noble) moments one after another. What kind of childhood set her off this way ("Kane," significantly, pivoted around a childhood event). Sylvia is a construction, apparently beautiful (in movie terms), but more importantly interesting, strong, independent. A great role model.

The investigator, called Mack, is played by George Maharis, who has a steady and calm approach all through. What happens after the establishment of his role is really terrific, because each person he encounters offers a new scenario, a new setting and story and conversation, and then a new flashback. And some of these side characters are fabulous true characters. So you get captivated time and after time. In some ways the least interesting character is this hopeless perfect and yet tainted paradigm, Sylvia, who by the end gets her own long segment, a present tense adjustment of all of what we've seen so far.

It's a little stilted at times, and the patient pace isn't always a benefit. The ending might actually seem a bit inevitable, too, which is fair enough. But in the big view you almost want to see it again to catch some of the piece you might have missed. It's filmed a decade after the last great noirs, and so isn't a big in the mode (though some people throw every b&w movie into the mix if they have a loner guy and a blonde). And it is a terrific tonic to the bigger Hollywood machine made stuff coming out in widescreen color (a lot of it). But when you see the changes in the medium with "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" and so on the next year or two, it's really really old fashioned.

Check it out.

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