6.8/10
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22 user 16 critic

Slightly Scarlet (1956)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | June 1956 (UK)
An urban wheeler-dealer gets involved in organized crime, corrupt city politics and graft while falling in-love with the fiancée of the newly elected mayor.

Director:

Allan Dwan

Writers:

James M. Cain (novel), Robert Blees (screenplay)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
John Payne ... Ben Grace
Rhonda Fleming ... June Lyons
Arlene Dahl ... Dorothy Lyons
Kent Taylor ... Frank Jansen
Ted de Corsia ... Solly Caspar
Lance Fuller ... Gauss
Buddy Baer ... Lenhardt
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Storyline

Kleptomaniac Dorothy Lyons is paroled from prison in custody of her sister June, secretary to "reform" political candidate Frank Jansen. Ben Grace, associate of crime boss Sol Caspar, sees this as a way to smear Jansen's campaign. But after falling out with Caspar, Ben tries to help June, who he begins to fall for. Sexy Dorothy also has a yen for Ben. June is reluctantly forced to go along with Ben's schemes, but there may be more to these than meets the eye... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

James M. Cain's scorchingly frank expose of the operators behind big-city graft See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

June 1956 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Straße des Verbrechens See more »

Filming Locations:

Hollywood, California, USA

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.00 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Goofs

A man in a bar says that, when the new mayor is elected, "this town will be so quiet you can eat your dinner off the sidewalk." Obviously, he should have said that the town would be clean, not quiet. See more »

Quotes

Solly Caspar: Let's see if we can beat him down.
[after throwing a body out of an upper story wondow]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in WPC 56: Great Pretenders (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Chiseler's and Smouldering Redheads.
13 April 2013 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

Slightly Scarlet is directed by Allan Dwan and adapted to screenplay by Robert Blees from the novel Love's Lovely Counterfeit written by James M. Cain. It stars John Payne, Rhonda Fleming, Arlene Dahl, Kent Taylor and Ted de Corsa. A Technicolor/SuperScope production, music is scored by Louis Forbes and cinematography by John Alton.

June Lyons (Fleming) is "secretary" to anti-crime campaigner Frank Jansen (Taylor), so with Jansen in the running for mayor, mob boss Solly Caspar (Corsa) looks for a way to smear Jansen. The chance arises by way of June's sister, Dorothy (Dahl), a Kleptomaniac just released from prison. So Caspar puts his main man on the case, Ben Grace (Payne), but bossing Grace around and then putting him in the middle of two fire- cracker sisters could prove detrimental to all.

The story is altered from Cain's source and in truth what reads like a tricky plot, actually isn't all that it can be. Yet it's a feverish Technicolor noir, proof positive that in the right photographic/director hands, noir can thrive away from the monochrome.

It plays out its tale in a whirl of simmering passions and wonderfully lurid suggestions, sparkled by eye scorching photography and a deliriously devilish production design. Psychological smarts are in the mix, with no easy answers put forward to character's outcomes, while in true noir fashion all principal characters are hard to like or are intriguingly flawed.

John Alton is the key hand here, he brings rich colours to the fore whilst ensuring that light and shadow techniques are not compromised. Macho conversations are spun out in darkened rooms, the colour black prominent, foreboding like, while the home of the two flame haired sisters is adorned with purposely garish blues, reds, oranges and greens.

Clothes are important to the sexuality pulsing in the piece. The girls dressed up in a number of fetching (colourful obviously) ensembles, with wide V necked sweaters, figure hugging skirts, bullet bras, leopard skin bikini and see-thru nighties! While a couple of phallic symbols form part of the art design just in case you need reminding that sex is a big issue here.

Suggestive scenes are within, usually involving Dorothy who mixes Kleptomania with an obvious kink for Nymphomania. Watch how she strokes a pillow in the background as her sister engages Ben in heated conversation, how she looks as she holds a Harpoon Spear Gun in her hands (in that leopard skin bikini), or a quite delicious sequence on a couch, legs akimbo and a back scratcher used to tantalising effect. Wow!

It has flaws for sure, mind. The Kleptomania/Nymphomania angle is not fully explored (ineviatbly for the period), Corsa barely convinces as the head villain, Forbes is not sure how to score it! And there are missed opportunities unbound as regards triangles involving Ben, June and Frank and also Ben, June and Dorothy. But this is still a delightful Technicolor noir, lush, lurid and deftly sordid. 8/10


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