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 fiancĂ©e. 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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