14 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 Prime Video


Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Underwater! (1955)
Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

Two scuba divers find a shipwreck which may contain undiscovered treasure, however, their attempt to salvage it is threatened by scavengers.

Director: John Sturges
Stars: Jane Russell, Gilbert Roland, Richard Egan
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A Eurasian photographer uses his women in an attempt to get American nationality.

Director: John Sturges
Stars: Laurence Harvey, France Nuyen, Martha Hyer
Jeopardy (1953)
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A family vacationing on the coast of Mexico have to cope with multiple threats to their safety.

Director: John Sturges
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Barry Sullivan, Ralph Meeker
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A small town policeman is assisted by a Harvard professor when a human skeleton is found on a Massachusetts beach.

Director: John Sturges
Stars: Ricardo Montalban, Sally Forrest, Bruce Bennett
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Jim Curtayne, formerly a successful defense attorney who is now a recovering alcoholic, attempts a comeback when he defends a neighbor's son a homicide charge.

Director: John Sturges
Stars: Spencer Tracy, Pat O'Brien, Diana Lynn
Certificate: Passed Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

During the Civil War, a group of Confederates escapes from the Union POW camp at Fort Bravo but has to contend with the desert, the Mescalero Indians and the pursuing Union troops.

Director: John Sturges
Stars: William Holden, Eleanor Parker, John Forsythe
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The first female doctor in New York City comes up against prejudice from male counterparts who feel threatened by her skills. Eventually, though, they come to respect her and romance ... See full summary »

Director: John Sturges
Stars: June Allyson, Arthur Kennedy, Gary Merrill
Comedy | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 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
Backlash (1956)
Mystery | Romance | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Jim Slater seeks a survivor of the Apache ambush his father died in.

Director: John Sturges
Stars: Richard Widmark, Donna Reed, William Campbell
Action | Adventure | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Marshal Jake Wade aids outlaw Clint Hollister escape jail but Clint wants to know where Wade hid an old hold-up loot taken while both men were outlaws in the same gang.

Director: John Sturges
Stars: Robert Taylor, Richard Widmark, Patricia Owens
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Biography of celebrated American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Director: John Sturges
Stars: Louis Calhern, Ann Harding, Eduard Franz
The Satan Bug (1965)
Crime | Mystery | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A germ that could destroy life on Earth is stolen from a biological warfare lab and the thief threatens to release it into the open, prompting a security officer to act.

Director: John Sturges
Stars: George Maharis, Richard Basehart, Anne Francis


Cast overview:
Gen. Benedict Arnold
Gen. Robert Howe
Nathanael Greene
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 espĂ­as  »


Box Office


$1,600,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$449,000, 31 December 1955

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,200,000, 31 December 1955
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show more 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 »


"Blow the Man Down" is heard on the soundtrack during a scene involving the man o' war. The sea shanty was composed anonymously in the 1860s, eighty-odd years after the incidents in this film. See more »


Maj. John Boulton: I wonder how many crimes are committed in the name of duty.
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 »

User Reviews

Complex character study worth your attention. Contains spoilers.
5 January 2003 | by 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.

40 of 41 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 14 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

"Altered Carbon" Star Will Yun Lee: Who, What, When, and Where?

"Altered Carbon" star Will Yun Lee reveals his most underrated role, the role he is best known for, and his favorite snack on set.

Watch now