Sylvia Scarlett

  • 1936
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Comedy, Drama

Edmund Gwenn is a compulsive gambler whose wife has just passed away. His daughter, Katharine Hepburn, has stolen some expensive lace, so he decides to smuggle it out of France. She wants to leave with him, but the cops are looking for her, and all the borders are being watched, so she decides to masquerade as a boy. She cuts her hair short and does her...read more

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Edmund Gwenn is a compulsive gambler whose wife has just passed away. His daughter, Katharine Hepburn, has stolen some expensive lace, so he decides to smuggle it out of France. She wants to leave with him, but the cops are looking for her, and all the borders are being watched, so she

decides to masquerade as a boy. She cuts her hair short and does her best to swagger mannishly as they board a ship bound for England. Gwenn drinks too much en route and reveals the lace robbery to Cary Grant, a cockney jewel smuggler. Grant informs customs inspectors in order to divert attention

from himself. To keep from being jailed, Gwenn has to give the officials every cent he has. When Hepburn later spots Grant aboard a train, she punches him to the floor. He is properly contrite and gives Gwenn and Hepburn some money to cover their losses. Moreover, he offers to make them part of

his future schemes, still unaware that Hepburn is female. He squires Gwenn to a large home where Dennie Moore works as a maid. The family is away on a trip, and Grant uses his charm to convince Moore to steal their jewels. Hepburn, however, talks the girl out of embarking on a life of crime. The

grateful Moore finds Hepburn attractive and kisses her. It turns out that the maid really wants to be a singer, so, since she has saved a bit of money, Hepburn talks her into backing a show. It also seems that Moore and Gwenn have fallen in love, and thus they marry and move their operations to a

small seaside town. There they rehearse their show and eventually run into a rich artist, Brian Aherne, who makes fun of their efforts. Hepburn lets him know he's a boor, and when he is forced to agree, he asks them all to his mansion for a soiree. Hepburn finds Aherne handsome and interesting,

and Grant is attracted to Aherne's Russian girl friend, Natalie Paley. Finding Hepburn magnetic, Aherne begins to doubt his masculinity, but, discovering her pilfering a dress, he finally comes to the realization that she is a woman. Just as he is about to make a move on her, Paley enters and he

assures the Russian of his continued love for her. Meanwhile, Moore takes up with another man and leaves her new husband which, in turn, causes him to start drinking. He wanders outside into a heavy downpour, and Grant and Hepburn find him dead the following day. She is distraught, and the two

find solace with each other. Paley senses Aherne's feelings for Hepburn, so she tries to drown herself but is rescued by her rival, who impresses Aherne with her bravery in the process. Paley then leaves with Grant. Hepburn and Aherne happen aboard the same train as the couple, and while chasing

them, realize how much they love each other. They leave the train to find happiness together as Grant and Paley remain aboard and begin their first spat. This is a curious film that lost a fortune at the box office. Its main problem is that its makers were never certain if they were making a

comedy or a drama. Despite that, in some ways it was well ahead of its time and has since become a cult movie which is often shown at festivals. Paley was a real Russian, the daughter of a grand duke who was the uncle to the slain Czar Nicholas. She also appeared with Maurice Chevalier in FOLIES

BERGERE. Hepburn made an interesting boy.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Edmund Gwenn is a compulsive gambler whose wife has just passed away. His daughter, Katharine Hepburn, has stolen some expensive lace, so he decides to smuggle it out of France. She wants to leave with him, but the cops are looking for her, and all the bor… (more)

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