The Boys From Syracuse (1940) DVD
The Boys From Syracuse (1940) Director: A. Edward Sutherland Writers: Titus Maccius Plautus (play), William Shakespeare (play) Stars: Allan Jones, Irene Hervey, Martha 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.