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I am one of the few who can actually lay claim to seeing "The Legend of Frenchie King" (1971) during its original UK theatrical release. The theater was not exactly packed for this feature which was yet another of the then endlessly proliferating Spanish westerns. These were characterized by a slightly off-kilter production design and heavily-accented dialogue (considering the bad accents I can't imagine that much of it was dubbed) by the English as a second language cast members.
Apparently Bardot had not learned her lesson with "Shalako" back in 1968, and she inflicted another of these things on herself. Basically the film is what you would get if you combined the plot elements of "The Dalton Girls"(1957) with those of "A Fistful of Dollars" (1964) and then tried (unsuccessfully) to give the story a comic quality.
The story is set in 1880's New Mexico, and like "The Dalton Girls" it features an outlaw gang of eyeball scorching girls. In this case there are five of them carrying on the family tradition (they don't have the Daltons as brothers but they have a legendary train robbing father).
The film opens with such a robbery. Disguised as men in black, the girls inflict ultra-violence on anyone who resists them. When she discovers the train robbery loot includes a deed to a local ranch the leader & title character (Bardot) decides they will all go domestic for a while. There is oil on the ranch and the neighboring rancher (Claudia Cardinale) wants to buy them out. She has four brothers. Which sets up a series of confrontations between the two women and a romantic pairing off of the four sisters and the four brothers. This culminates in a nicely staged if somewhat tame catfight. Meanwhile Michael J. Pollard plays his standard C.W. Moss character; this time working as a bumbling sheriff.
Bardot was in her mid-thirties and still looks great, Cardinale was a couple years younger and looks pretty high mileage and a bit chunky in comparison. It does not work to her relative advantage to be playing opposite Bardot. Nor does it help that the four other actresses are drop dead gorgeous.
It is this winsome foursome that makes the film worth viewing. They even manage to insert a little characterization. Patty Shepard plays Little Rain, the one with an Indian mother (note the headband). Teresa Gimpera plays Caroline, the oldest and most sophisticated. Emma Cohen plays near-sighted Virginie. And France Dougnac plays ultra-hot Elisabeth, she makes all the others (including Bardot) look rather plain in comparison. There is a great camera shot where they pan along the four of them standing along a bar which pauses at the end when Dougnac comes into the frame.
The original director was Guy Casaril but he was replaced by a desperate for work Christian- Jaque. The "real" legend of Frenchie King grew out of this change as in was long believed that there were two different films, "Frenchie King" by Christian-Jaque and "Les Petroleuses" by Casaril.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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