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The Boys From Syracuse (1940) DVD

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The Boys From Syracuse (1940)


A. Edward Sutherland    


Titus Maccius Plautus (play),  William Shakespeare (play)


Allan JonesIrene HerveyMartha Raye
Considering that it was adapted from a Broadway musical by Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart and George Abbott, The Boys From Syracuse must rank as a disappointment, though it manages to remain entertaining throughout its surprisingly brief 74-minute running time. Like its theatrical predecessor, the film was inspired by Shakespeare's A Comedy of Errors ("After a play by William Shakespeare long, long after" reads the opening title). In ancient Ephesus, young tyrant Antipholus (Allan Jones) sentences elderly merchant Aegeon (Samuel S. Hinds) to death unless the latter can come up with a handsome ransom. What Antipholus doesn't know is that Aegeon is his own father; he also doesn't know that he has a twin brother, also named Antipholus (and also played by Allan Jones) who has just arrived from Syracuse in search of dear old daddy. Further complicating matters is that Antiopholus of Ephesus and Antipholus of Syracuse both have slaves named Dromio (Joe Penner)-likewise identical twins! The mistaken-identity angle is played to the hilt, with A. of E.'s wife Adriana (Irene Hervey), A. of S.'s girlfirend Phyllis (Rosemary Lane), and Dromio of Ephesus' main squeeze Luce (Martha Raye) ending up just as confused as everyone else. Only four of the original Rodgers & Hart songs were retained-"This Can't Be Love", "Falling in Love with Love", "Sing for Your Supper", and "Oh, Diogenes"-while two new ones were written for the film. Most of the best jokes are based on anachronisms, with Dromio the slave organizing a labor union (complete with placards), a cheering section at an execution shouting "Give him the ax", and a parchment newspaper bearing such headlines as "Ephesus Blitzkriegs Syracuse". Originally purchased by Universal as a vehicle for the Ritz Brothers, The Boys From Syracuse isn't any great shakes, but it would certainly be well worth seeing again.

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Product Reviews

  1. Can't Go Home Again 3 Star Review

    Posted by on Dec 1st 2019

    I loved this movie as a kid and made sure to watch it whenever it was on. I hadn't seen it in over thirty years, and alas, my perceptions have changed. Now I can see all the flaws in the film. Still, it was enjoyable to see it again and to have it in my collection. I do love the anachronistic use of cigars,and checker cab chariots and such in ancient Greece. (Ever notice how every comedy set in the ancient world seems to end in a chariot chase?) Also a rare chance to see comedian Joe Penner, who was a big name in the 1930s but is now forgotten.

  2. Fum Production 5 Star Review

    Posted by on Jan 7th 2018

    This is a fun musical even though most of the Rodgers and Hart Broadway score is missing. It was far too racy for 1940. However Martha Raye is a standout.

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