Slightly Scarlet

Slightly Scarlet

Slightly Scarlet gets the ball rolling with red head Dorothy Lyons (Arlene Dahl) coming out of a woman's prison where her beautiful sister June (played by Rhonda Fleming who is also a red head) is waiting for her. In the meantime a man is taking photos of the sisters with a camera that has the biggest lens I have ever seen! The man is a publicity specialist Ben Grace (John Payne) who is in cahoots with the police. We discover that Dorothy was behind bars for theft, she was released early because of ill health. We also learn that June is the lover and secretary of Frank Jansen, an important political candidate for mayor. His policy is to clean up crime.

Solly Caspar (Ted de Corsia) is the next big character we are introduced to, the big crime boss who controls the town. But wait, who's that with him? It's Ben! He's also in cahoots with the biggest crime lord. The plot thickens, Ben is actually working for Solly, their plan is to get something dirty about Mr. Jansen and expose it. To do this they will use June and her recently released sister. Solly wants his organised crime to prosper, but when Solly learns that Ben hasn't got the dirt yet, he beats and threatens him. This causes Ben to rethink about his career path!

Solly's power is shown when he murders a large publisher who rooted for Jansen in his newspapers but was against Solly. Ben tape records the murder and pays June and Dorothy a visit. He tries to persuade June to expose the murder which would help Jansen politically, eventually she agrees after some blackmailing.

Meanwhile, Jansen becomes mayor, Solly is on the run, Ben controls Solly's gang now, Ben falls for June, what is he planning? Dorothy flirts constantly with Ben - oh dear oh dear oh dear - the plot becomes thicker than grandmother's soup.

So far Slightly Scarlet has all the touches of a crime film of this era - pretty ladies, police corruption (the chief of police for example), love tangles, hoodlums, dramatic periodic music, John Wayne acting, and ultra fast story telling. I like it! Solly's hoodlums are great: the short one is called "Giant", the big one is called "Tiny", and they constantly smoke reading newspapers or playing cards.

The final half and quarter continues with Dorothy being arrested again and Solly coming back from hiding. I better not go into anymore detail on the final quarter mainly because it's too complex and I'll be giving you spoilers. One thing is for sure, the ending comes crashing down on the heads of several of the main characters!

Overall I liked this film, the plot doesn't get boring, the acting is good for the type of characters being played, and there's enough action to keep fans of the thriller genre happy. The end (as I mentioned before) is satisfying. However, I couldn't help feeling a little lost at points. For instance, I didn't quite understand how Ben manages to take over Solly's operations.

The film is based on the novel Love's Lovely Counterfeit by James M. Cain (the man who brought us The Postman Always Ring Twice) and is directed by Canadian film veteran Allan Dwan. With these two names placed together it is not surprising how well this film enfolds. It fits nicely in the film noir genre - even if it was filmed in bright wonderful colour!

The DVD is a region 1 bog standard affair but does come with some features. The print has been enhanced for 1.85:1 widescreen TVs and fits nicely on my widescreen monitor. Colours are vibrant (this was really noticeable when Ben goes to his beach house, I wanted to swim in that blue sea!), the print is clear and pleasant. I noticed a little vertical noise on the print during two or three moments, but for a film of its age, it really looks great! The sound is clear and well balanced and the score seems to fit well into the film. The extras consist of a very insightful commentary from crime film expert and director Max Allan Collins, a photo gallery, a James Cain bio, a James Cain book gallery, a trailer, and trailers for other film noir gems: The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity.

Slightly Scarlet is a complex but enjoyable crime flick treated with a nice lick of paint by VCI Entertainment. Go get it!

Review by: Broonage.

Released by VCI Entertainment
Region 1 - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review