Thirty Day Princess (1934)


Sylvia Sidney (Sabotage, Beetlejuice) plays two roles in this spin on the classic tale of The Prince and the Pauper. After a European princess (Sidney) comes down with the mumps on a good will tour of America, her political liaison (Edward Arnold) scours the city to find the perfect look-alike (also Sidney) to carry out her duties. When the doppelganger falls in love with a journalist (Cary Grant), she dreads losing him when the rouse is uncovered.

This story’s been done a few times too many, but the script (co-written by Preston Sturges) moves at a nice pace and the cast are all plenty charismatic to carry it through. It’s a showpiece for Sidney, who gets to show us both her prim and uncouth sides — even both at the same time during a split-screen sequence. Grant is dutiful in a more thankless role, but Arnold gets a few laughs when things don’t go quite according to his self-serving plans. Director Marion Gering (Madame Butterfly) also gets good comic mileage out of supporting player Vince Barnett (Scarface), who plays the princess’s goofy, unwanted fiancée. Thirty Day Princess would be more memorable if it fully embraced its screwball potential, but for a romantic comedy, consider it high praise when I say it’s far from insufferable. With Henry Stephenson.

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