True History of the Kelly Gang
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Interesting for its leads and gender bending story and not much else.
TenÃ¬a mejores expectativas, al final terminÃ² aburriendome, en todo caso vale por ver a Katharine Hepburn y Cary Grant.
has gr8 gay overtones
I just don't understand the intentions of this movie at all. It all just seems to fail at every level. When compared to Bringing Up Baby (I know it's not fair) it's just baffling in its difference in quality. It ultimately comes down to a pretty bad story that doesn't make any sense, and its characters' actions are mostly not believable.
This was the first pairing of Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, and it also remains the most divisive of their four collaborations. Hell, this film remains divisive among fans of both stars and Katharine Hepburn herself hated this film. It's definitely an odd film, especially as Hepburn plays a con artist who dresses like a boy. While the film struggles to balance light hearted, over the top comedy with drama, Sylvia Scarlett is still an entertaining film in its own right that offers plenty of laughs and terrific acting. As a whole, it's a very underrated comedy and a fascinating look at the depth of Hepburn's acting and willingness to throw herself into challenging and unusual roles.
What do you do when you start watching a film and you realize it isn't that good? Even with a classic film it sometimes is hard to push through and view the entire thing. This is the case with SYLVIA SCARLETT (George Cukor, RKO Pictures, 1935) as the film was particularly hard to follow narratively, the performances were scattered and the film is just old enough that stylistically it doesn't compare favorably with other films made shortly after in the years to follow. The film does have Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn as it's two stars though, the first of four films pairing these two greats. And while the two of them are often great, this film doesn't offer many times for these two to shine.
There is one thing the film does very well, particularly looking back almost eighty years since its release. I am not sure if it is the persona of Hepburn that determines the role of Sylvia or if the script dictated her portrayal. But the wholehearted attack on gender roles and sexuality this film takes is amazing. This attack is multifaceted and takes on many aspects. Let me begin with Hepburn.
The most obvious physical change would of course be her hair and makeup. She goes under a radical transformation in cutting her hair entirely in a men's fashion. The makeup applied to her in the role is done well and contributes to her deceptively being very boyish. Her costuming helps as well and this is no doubt aided by her slender figure. The most striking aspect of Hepburn in this role is her movement. She moves just like a man does, totally different from all the other women in the film. All the tricks of hair and makeup are great but it's the movement that makes her convincing. And this effective portrayal of a man blurs the gender lines in the film.
Also blurring things is an underlying tone of sexuality to the film, particularly one of homosexuality. I counted three instances of same sex kissing, unheard of in classical Hollywood studio era films. What further muddles this same sex kissing is the pairings. Maudie (Dennie Moore) kisses Sylvia but Sylvia has a penciled mustache. The audience knows its girl kissing girl but the mustache and dress alters the landscape. Next Michael (Brian Aherne) kisses Sylvester. Definitely not a heterosexual moment but allowable because the audience knows Sylvester really is a girl. Finally when Sylvia reveals herself she is kissed by Lily (Natalie Paley). Again, girl kissing girl but the manner of the kiss and it's particular moment in the narrative make it allowable. (Lily is forgiving Sylvia for an earlier slight)
Lily of course has the line of the film, cementing this blurring of genders. When meeting Sylvia she coyly states "were you a girl dressed as a boy or are you a boy dressed as a girl"? This statement of confusion sums up exactly what the film is saying. Sylvia is blurring gender lines and the audience is supposed to buy into whichever role Hepburn is playing at the time. The film entirely belongs to Hepburn and her performance is strong.
The film is not good and is rather tedious to watch. But there are some fantastic moments within and the undertones that are broached are remarkable. And of course you get Grant and Hepburn.
totally over the top, but in a great way. hollywood just doesn't do the overdramatics they way they used to.
Though it was certainly ground-breaking for its time, it has aged horribly. And just because a movie is ground-breaking, doesn't make it good in and of itself: the pacing at the end is downright terrible.
Think fast! Your dad, Edmund Gwenn has been embezzling money and you have to escape the country and you look like Katharine Hepburn. In order to evade the authorities, do you cut off your long braids and pose as a boy? Of course you do! When you and dad run across a smuggler who looks an awful lot like Cary Grant you decide to keep up the ruse so that you might learn the tricks of being a con man. Unfortunately, you wind up being too honest to do any decent thieving so you decide to start a touring performance troupe (you, your dad, Cary Grant and some other dame you found). When some loud mouth heckles the dame in your group while you're doing your act onstage, you go home with him, and spend the rest of the movie trying to decide whether you love him or Cary Grant. Everyone in this movie is confused and the plot is sloppy/messy, but I thought Hepburn was pretty cute in this gender-bending role (there's even a "lesbian" kiss). Granted, this was probably one of the first films of this kind, but that still doesn't make it very good.