Frenchie Fontaine sells her successful business in New Orleans to come West. Her reason? Find the men who killed her father, Frank Dawson. But she only knows one of the two who did and she's determined to find out the other.
The Scarlet Angel! Frenchie is directed by Louis King and written by Oscar Brodney. It stars Joel McCrea, Shelley Winters, Paul Kelly, Elsa Lanchester, Marie Windsor and John Russell. Music is by Hans Salter and cinematography by Maury Gertsman. Frenchie Fontaine (Winters) has sold her successful business in New Orleans and has come West to prosper further - or does she have an ulterior motive? In spite of some on line sources proclaiming this to be a remake of "Destry", which is a considerably better film as it happens, it really isn't a copy. The similarities are for sure there, but it is its own entity and deserves to at least be judged as such. We have a wonderful tried and trusted Western genre narrative thread where someone is out for revenge, only in this instance it's a foxy lady. Male suitors get in a tizzy about garnering her attentions, the bad guys potter about trying to avert suspicion - but do so badly, and there's some moral outrage from townsfolk who object to Frenchie's forthright money making success. While of course there's some truths to be born out - can open and worms everywhere type of thing. It's not very strong on the page, that's for sure, but there's plenty in the production to enjoy regardless. Cast are good value for the roles as written, not that there's any great chemistry between Winters and McCrea, but as she snake hips her way around town, and he fronts up with cool as a cucumber swagger, it's easy to just buy into the frothery of it all. The dialogue is often deliciously suggestive, the costuming is high quality (Yvonne Wood), and when action decides to make an appearance it's competently staged. Yet it's the cinematography that is the pic's best aspect. Maury Gertsman (Comanche Territory) is not a name that jumps off the page for cinematography notices, he definitely was a better purveyor in monochrome, but his Technicolor filters are excellent here. Then there's the gorgeous locales, where Buttermilk Country/Inyo National Forest please the eyes so much you wonder why these weren't used more often through the Western genre heydays? As a serious Western genre fan I wouldn't be comfortable putting this forward as a must see for like minded souls. However, for McCrea and Winters fans - and actually John Russell ones as well - this is no waste of time. 6/10