Sylvia Scarlett (Cukor, 1935)

Cukor’s film achieves a consistent debauchery and an unpleasant lunacy which recycles seemingly meaningless characters back into roles of prominence without a sense of structure. It’s no surprise Sylvia Scarlett bombed upon release, since it lacks the cohesive devotion to story the later Grant/Hepburn/Cukor collaborations thrive upon. There’s no denying the acting talent on display, but Cukor can’t find the right balance of performance and plot, opting out for a shifting, meandering outlook on love and deception. This approach just isn’t as successful as say Holiday‘s brilliant pacing or The Philadelphia Story‘s beautiful attention to character. Where those films created an environment of romantic tension worthy of the characters, this Cukor can’t decide which direction, or stance to take on the subject at hand. A major disappointment.


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