Monday, January 17, 2011

Sylvia Scarlett

TCM will be marking the birth anniversary of Cary Grant tomorrow, and kicks off the day with the movie Sylvia Scarlett at 6:30 AM.

Katharine Hepburn plays the title role, the daughter of a widower (Edmund Gwenn) who is living in France. Unfortunately, Dad is a conman, and he's about to be caught, so they have to escape somehow. Dad decides that going to England is best, but certainly everybody's going to recognize his lovely daughter. What to do? Cut off her hair and have her try to pass as a boy! (Yeah, right.) Still, this being a Hollywood movie, you know they're going to get away with it, at least for a while. That while sort of comes to an end when they meet Jimmy (Cary Grant) in England. He's a conman himself, and he suspects something about "Sylvester".

About halfway through the movie, "Sylvester" gets the bright idea that they should go straight, by getting one of those circus-style trailers you see in old movies, and roving around the countryside as itinerant actors. It's here that they meet artist Michael (Brian Ahearn). Sylvia falls in love with him, to the point that she wants to give up the charade. However, Michael has a girlfriend. All is solved, though, when through a twist of fate, Sylvia winds up with Michael, and Jimmy winds up with Michael's old girlfriend.

Or is all solved? The two couples meet again after quite some time has passed.... On the bright side, this is the final twist in a movie that has a lot of plot twists that seem to come out of nowhere. Sylvia Scarlett is a movie that has an interesting idea, but an execution that leaves something to be desired. I'm not the biggest fan of Hepburn, but she isn't terrible here having to do a cross-dressing role. Cary Grant is good, but then, he's always underrated, as is Edmund Gwenn. The film's big problem is that it doesn't seem to know what it wants to do.

That having been said, Sylvia Scarlett is definitely worth seeing at least once. The movie has made it to DVD, but apparently only as part of a box set of Hepburn's films.

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