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Sylvia Scarlett (1935)

Approved | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 3 January 1936 (USA)
When her father decides to flee to England, young Sylvia Scarlett must become Sylvester Scarlett and protect her father every step of the way, with the questionable help of plenty others.


George Cukor


Gladys Unger (screenplay), John Collier (screenplay) | 2 more credits »




Complete credited cast:
Katharine Hepburn ... Sylvia Scarlett a.k.a. Sylvester
Cary Grant ... Jimmy Monkley
Brian Aherne ... Michael Fane
Edmund Gwenn ... Henry Scarlett


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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Despite the poor reviews of the movie, most critics noted the performance of Cary Grant. It has since been recognized as one of Grant's break-out performances. See more »


When Sylvia is cracking eggs, she cracks and opens the second egg twice. See more »


Sylvia Scarlett: Well, we're all fools sometimes. Only you choose such awkward times.
See more »


Featured in American Masters: Cary Grant: A Class Apart (2004) See more »


Written by John Glover Kind (1909)
Performed by Cary Grant, Dennie Moore, and Edmund Gwenn
See more »

User Reviews

A very odd curio where all the pieces don't quite fit together
26 January 2007 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

This film should have been a lot better, but so often the writing was filled with holes, the acting (especially with Ms. Hepburn and Mr. Gwen) overdone and excellent actors wasted (in the case of Cary Grant). While it is still watchable, this isn't exactly a glowing endorsement.

The film begins in France where Edmund Gwen informs his daughter (Hepburn) he's being sought by the police for embezzlement. So, they sneak away to Britain--with Hepburn dressed as a young man to divert suspicion. While not the most convincing boy, this was believable enough. However, there was really no discernible reason for her to continue being a boy during the rest of the film. Inexplicably, she stayed in costume until she later fell in love with a Bohemian artist.

On the trip to Britain, Hepburn and Gwen fall in with con-man Grant. And, despite it appearing that the film would be about their criminal gang, all the sudden they abandoned their evil ways and started traveling about the countryside performing little song and dance shows. Why? I have no idea--especially since they don't appear to have much talent.

Also during this time, Gwen gets married to a lady and spends much of the rest of his screen time overacting and pretty much making a fool of himself. Some of this was deliberate, but most of it was just lousy acting. And, when he wasn't blubbering and acting foolish, Hepburn was doing much the same! Grant, while not overacting, was pretty much a cipher--giving an amazingly muted and uninspiring performance. He was there, but that's really about it! The only decent scenes in the film occurred when Sylvia fell in love with the artist. Their scenes together might have been the basis for a good movie--too bad everything leading up to it was so sub-par. Overall, this is a slightly worse than average film but I expected so much more with the talent involved. Ms. Hepburn was a good actress, but better parts were still a few years ahead.

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English | French

Release Date:

3 January 1936 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sylvia Scarlett See more »


Box Office


$641,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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