Thirty-Day Princess (1934): Marion Gering’s Pre-Code Cmedy, Starring Sylvia Sidney, Cary Grant and Edward Arnold

Marion Gering directed Thirty Day Princess, a pre-Code comedy, starring Sylvia Sidney in a dual role, Cary Grant in a thankless part, and Edward Arnold as second banana.

Grade: C- (* out of *****)

Thirty Day Princess
Thirty Day Princess poster 1934.jpg

theatrical poster

The film was based on a story of the same name by Clarence Budington Kelland in Ladies’ Home Journal, in 1933, adapted by Sam Hellman and Edwin Justus Mayer, and written by Preston Sturges and Frank Partos.

On her way to New York City to find financial backing for her impoverished country, the Ruritanian Kingdom of Taronia, Princess “Zizzi” Catterina (Sidney) falls ill with the mumps and has to be quarantined for a month.

Financier Richard Gresham (Edward Arnold), who’s planning to issue $50 million in Taronian bonds, hires unemployed lookalike actress Nancy Lane (Sidney again) to impersonate the princess.

He offers her large bonus if she influences the chief opponent of the financial transaction, newspaper publisher Porter Madison III (Cary Grant).

Preston Sturges received credit for the screenplay, but not much of his work was used.

Sporadically entertaining, the movie’s lighter tone was a change of pace for Sidney, who’s better known for her grim roles in Fritz Lang’s early American movies.

Released on May 18, 1934, Thirty-Day Princess was ultimately a minor affair that did little to further Cary Grant’s career.

All Grant was required to do was wear white tie and tails, which he did well.

The negative reviews angered Grant, motivating him to be more careful in  choosing his own roles.

Paramount retaliated by loaning him to United Artists.

Sylvia Sidney as Princess Catterina/Nancy Lane
Cary Grant as Porter Madison III
Edward Arnold as Richard Gresham
Henry Stephenson as King Anatol XII
Vince Barnett as Count Nicholeus
Edgar Norton as Baron Passeria
Lucien Littlefield as Parker
Robert McWade as Managing editor
Marguerite Namara as Lady-in-Waiting
Ray Walker as Dan Kirk


Directed by Marion Gering
Written by Story: Clarence Budington Kelland; Adaptation: Sam Hellman, Edwin Justus Mayer
Screenplay: Preston Sturges, Frank Partos
Produced by B.P. Schulberg
Cinematography Leon Shamroy
Edited by Jane Loring
Music by Howard Jackson, Rudolph G. Kopp
Distributed by Paramount Pictures

Release date: May 18, 1934

Running time: 74 minutes