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November 26, 2020

Sylvia Scarlett

Sylvia Scarlett

This is a Hollywood movie from 1935. Filmed in black and white, it stars Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant. It tells the story of a father and daughter who have to flee from their home in France, and travel to England. For a rather unbelievable reason, Hepburn needs to disguise herself as a boy, and changes her name from Sylvia to Sylvester.

Anyway - here are eight things that are quite interesting about the film:

#1 Cary Grant has a fairly bad Cockney accent throughout. Grant was actually born in Bristol, and as a young man worked in London before moving to make his fortune in the U.S. So maybe his accent is more complicated than you think.

#2 The film is based on a book by Compton MacKenzie. "The Early Life and Adventures of Sylvia Scarlett". There are a series of novels about the characters, it would be fun to read them - ebooks are available free on Project Gutenberg. MacKenzie is a very interesting character, most famous these days for his comic novel and film "Whiskey Galore"

#3 It pushed boundaries of what was acceptable in the cinema regarding sexuality. A woman kisses a woman (dressed as a man), a man invites a woman to bed with him (though she is a dressed as a man).

#4 It lost a lot of money at the box office, and set back Hepburn's career. Why - was it resistance to Hepburn's cross-dressing and gender fluidity?

#5 Hepburn was already an Academy award winner, and on her way to even greater success, but this was the first of four unsuccessful films which gave her the name "box office poison" and nearly ruined her career.

#6 A co-star, Natalie Paley, is uncredited. She is actually Princess Natalia Pavlovna Paley, a Russian aristocrat and member of the Romanov family.

#7 Though set in France and England, the film was filmed of course around Los Angeles - the outdoor beach scenes take place at Leo Carrillo Beach which has interesting rock formations and caves. Many other films have shot here, including 'Grease', 'Inception' and "The Karate Kid'.

#8 Hepburn is remarkably agile. She easily lifts her body high on isometric rings at one point, and jumps out of a high window.

I'd encourage you to watch it, and hope that by seeing these behind the scenes details will make it as interesting for you as it was for me.


Posted by se71 at 04:32 PM | Comments (0)