movie film review | chris tookey

Sylvia Scarlett

  Sylvia Scarlett Review
Tookey's Rating
5 /10
Average Rating
6.11 /10
Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant , Edmund Gwenn
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Directed by: George Cukor
Written by: Gladys Unger, John Collier, Mortimer Offner from Compton Mackenzie's novel

Released: 1935
Genre: DRAMA
Origin: US
Colour: BW
Length: 94

A young woman (Katharine Hepburn) dresses as a man in order to evade the police, then falls in love with an artist (Brian Aherne).
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Panned on release, this odd but appealing mixture of romantic drama with screwball comedy has a rambling narrative structure which owes more to Shakespearean plays like As You Like It, than to conventional screenwriting. It is an interestingly coded examination of gender reversal (director Cukor was himself homosexual), and part of the reason for its initial lack of success may be that Aherne is evidently attracted to Hepburn while she is dressed as a boy. Cary Grant steals the film as a Cockney criminal. Hepburn overacts at times.

"A disaster, and the reason it's a success now is that the audience is also a disaster. At least when it was made the audience had sense enough not to go... A lot of pictures of mine that people thought bad at the time have since been called "classics," but of those Sylvia Scarlett is the most surprising. I remember going home one night from the studio and writing in my diary, 'This picture makes no sense at all and I wonder whether George Cukor is aware of the fact, because I certainly don't know what the hell I'm doing.'"

(Katharine Hepburn)

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