12 user 6 critic

The Scarlet Coat (1955)

During the Revolutionary War, American Major John Boulton feigns desertion in order to uncover a British plot to seize the stronghold of West Point.




Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video


Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Action | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The career of Revolutionary War naval hero from his youth in Scotland through his service to Catherine the Great of Russia.

Director: John Farrow
Stars: Robert Stack, Marisa Pavan, Charles Coburn
Comedy | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The black sheep of a family and the local minister discover their true vocations during the Revolutionary War.

Directors: Guy Hamilton, Alexander Mackendrick
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A bounty hunter, hired by Pinkerton, trails 3 unknown murderous train robbers to a town and finds a host of suspects.

Director: André De Toth
Stars: Randolph Scott, Dolores Dorn, Marie Windsor
Glory Alley (1952)
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

In New Orleans, prizefighter Socks Barbarrosa suddenly runs out of the ring before his title bout, and swears he'll never fight again. He gives no reason for his strange actions. His girl ... See full summary »

Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: Ralph Meeker, Leslie Caron, Kurt Kasznar
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Beautiful young Virginian Jane steps down from her proper aristocratic upbrining when she marries down-to-earth surveyor Matt Howard. Matt joins the Colonial forces in their fight for ... See full summary »

Director: Frank Lloyd
Stars: Cary Grant, Martha Scott, Cedric Hardwicke
Jigsaw (1962)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A woman is found murdered in a house along the coast from Brighton. Local detectives Fellows and Wilks lead an investigation methodically following up leads and clues mostly in Brighton and... See full summary »

Director: Val Guest
Stars: Jack Warner, Ronald Lewis, Yolande Donlan
The Squaw Man (1931)
Certificate: Passed Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Jim Wyngate, an English aristocrat, comes to the American West under a cloud of suspicion for embezzlement actually committed by his cousin Lord Henry. In Wyoming, Wyngate runs afoul of ... See full summary »

Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Stars: Warner Baxter, Lupe Velez, Eleanor Boardman
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

History, as portrayed in this film, has been a succession of conquests of stronger races over weaker ones. As played out on the stage of Monument Valley, long ago, tribes of Indians ... See full summary »

Director: George B. Seitz
Stars: Richard Dix, Lois Wilson, Noah Beery
Sci-Fi | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

In 1868, an American scientist and his team become hostages of fanatical pacifist Robur who uses his airship Albatross to destroy military targets on Earth.

Director: William Witney
Stars: Vincent Price, Charles Bronson, Henry Hull
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

The life and military conquests of Alexander III of Macedon (20/21 July 356 - 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great.

Director: Robert Rossen
Stars: Richard Burton, Fredric March, Claire Bloom
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Judge Hardy, trying to find a relative of an aged couple to prevent them from losing their home, enlists the aid of his son Andy.

Director: George B. Seitz
Stars: Mickey Rooney, Lewis Stone, Fay Holden
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

After Larry Darrent accidentally kills his lover's blackmailing husband, someone else is arrested for the crime. When he is found guilty, Larry and Wanda have just three weeks together ... See full summary »

Director: Basil Dean
Stars: Vivien Leigh, Leslie Banks, Laurence Olivier


Cast overview:
Sally Cameron
Robert Douglas ...
Gen. Robert Howe
Peter Andre
Nathanael Greene
James Westerfield ...
Col. Jameson
Ashley Cowan ...
Mr. Brown
Sir Henry Clinton
John Alderson ...
Mr. Durkin
John O'Malley ...
Col. Winfield
Ben Potter


In 1780 Major John Boulton is recruited by Colonial intelligence as a counterspy who will feign desertion to the British forces. His mission is to discover the identity of an American traitor with the code name Gustavus. Although prominent Tory Dr. Odell suspects Boulton of being a double agent, the spy wins the friendship and respect of British spymaster Major John Andre and, in doing so, discovers that the traitor is none other than American hero, General Benedict Arnold, who is planning to surrender the key colonial position of West Point to the English. Written by duke1029@aol.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Spy and counterspy...are Cornel Wilde and John O'Malley as Wilde demands secret documents of the American Revolution. See more »


Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

15 March 1956 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Duelo de espías  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(35 mm optical prints) (Western Electric Sound System)| (35 mm magnetic prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Ironically, the narrator Paul Frees was a spy. According to author Peter Guralnick (in "Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley"), Frees was an undercover narcotics agent for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs in the 1960s. See more »


The marching tune "The Girl I Left Behind Me" played by the band at the beginning of the film was written in 1791 more than 20 years after the events of the film. See more »


Maj. John Andre: [to Sally] You must think I'm either an angel or a fool. I'm neither.
See more »


Referenced in The Notorious Bettie Page (2005) See more »


Rule Britannia
Composed by Thomas Augustine Arne (as Thomas Arne) (1740)
Heard incorported into background score
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Complex character study worth your attention. Contains spoilers.
5 January 2003 | by (Stroudsburg, PA) – See all my reviews

At the film's beginning, a card tells us this is to be about Benedict Arnold's unmasking as a traitor. So, I expected the usual historical action film, depicting the heroic Americans and the villainous British. And, at first, the film seemed to be going this way.

But then, it became richer as it focused not so much on Benedict Arnold as on Major John Andre, the British Adjutant General, and Major John Boulton, an American secret agent. The essential plot point is that Boulton will pretend to desert the American forces and go over to the British, his object being to learn who the mysterious Gustavus is. Gustavus is a pseudonym for an American (Arnold, of course) who is revealing secrets of the American forces to the British.

But once Boulton has "defected," he encounters two very interesting men. One is Dr. Jonathan Odell, who never trusts Boulton, thinking from start to finish that Boulton is an American agent. The other is Major John Andre, who accepts Boulton as a true defector. In his guise as defector, Boulton appears to be a man without ideals, someone interested in making money for the information that he can carry.

As the film develops, Boulton and Andre come to respect each other, tho they are men on opposite sides. Andre always claims that Boulton has ideals, and so it proves to be. And Andre comes across as a loyal British subject, a man of integrity. It was amazing to see the story line develop in this way: both sides in the Revolutionary War (and every war) have fine people, people of honor and integrity, loyal to their country and its ideals. Were it not for the war, these people might be good friends and work together.

In the climatic scene, Andre is found guilty of enticing Arnold to betray his country, even to offering Arnold money for information. As Andre makes clear, that is his job, and there are Americans who are trying to do the same thing with British officers as well. Andre is sentenced to death.

Boulton so respects Andre he goes to George Washington in an attempt to get a reprieve from the death penalty for Andre. And Washington does provide a solution: If Andre will sign the papers, he will be exchanged for Arnold, who has deserted to the British and is among their troops. But Andre refuses. As Andre explains, from his position as a British officer, he sees Arnold as having "seen the light," i.e., that the British position is correct and the Colonists are wrong for rebelling. Andre rises to heroic status in this scene, a man to be respected, and a true British patriot, willing to sacrifice his life for his ideals. And so he does. He was executed October 2, 1780.

The film is beautiful. I saw a pristine Cinemascope print. A note in the credits (read carefully) indicates that much of this film was shot at the Sleepy Hollow Restoration on the Hudson where many of the original events took place. It was shot in the autumn with the color of the leaves at their full beauty. The costumes rival the colors of nature, particularly the scarlet coats of the British officers. But color is well used (symbolically) throughout the film. For example, Odell is usually dressed in brown or gray. And Boulton is often in blue, sometimes a very vibrant blue. The film makes fine use of the Cinemascope aspect ratio.

My only objection to the sets is this: Everything looks new, as if the furniture had just been purchased at a local store, as if the painters had just left yesterday, the lawn crews had just finished mowing the grass and tending the flower beds. Of course, the trees at the Sleepy Hollow Restoration have almost 175 years on them from what they looked like in 1780. The roughness of the true colonial days isn't here.

Cornel Wilde and Michael Wilding do fine jobs with their roles. A lot of critics wrote off Wilding as a lightweight actor. But here his British demeanor and accent are perfectly correct for Andre, and Wilde's rougher looks are correct for the American he plays.

Sanders is also satisfactory in a good part of the suspicious doctor. And Bobby Driscoll--remember him from "Song of the South"?--has a small supporting part as a teenager anxious to join the Revolutionary forces.

Anne Francis is window dressing as Sally Cameron, whom both Andre and Boulton are in love with. At his end, Andre asks Boulton to look to Sally, for, should the Colonists win the war, she will probably be treated as a traitor because of her late husband's British sympathies.

The script was written by Karl Tunberg, who'd done the script for "Beau Brummel" just before this. Earlier (1945), he'd written "Kitty." "The Scarlet Coat" is finer than either of these.

There was only one line that was false, a storybook line: Andre says, "I must go to my rendezvous with history." But, apparently, Andre actually said this line or legend has attributed it to him. It is on his tomb in Westminster Abbey.

This film is well worth your attention.

38 of 39 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Fun Fact giverny98
Discuss The Scarlet Coat (1955) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: