SCARLET COAT, THE (director: John Sturges; screenwriter: Karl Tunberg; cinematographer: Paul C. Vogel; editor: Ben Lewis; music: Conrad Salinger; cast: Cornel Wilde (Maj. John Bolton), Michael Wilding (Maj. John Andre), George Sanders (Dr. Jonathan Odell), Anne Francis (Sally Cameron), Robert Douglas (Benedict Arnold), Bobby Driscoll (Ben Potter), John McIntire (General Robert Howe), James Westerfield(Col. Jameson); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Nicholas Nayfack; MGM; 1955)
“The storyline is highly suspect.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Director John Sturges (“Mystery Street”/”Jeopardy”/”Never So Few”)and writer Karl Tunbergset their inert American war of independence spy drama in 1780. Though visually pleasing in lush Technicolor, the storyline is highly suspect and the acting is more suited for the stage than cinema. The talky and non-action MGM costumer tells in a stiff fashion about the American Secret Service’s start as counterspies to catch the British spies.
American intelligence officer, Maj. John Bolton (Cornel Wilde), goes undercover at the urging of General Howe (John McIntire) to catch a British spy ring and its leader “Gustavus.” Later it’s learned the traitor Gustavus is General Benedict Arnold (Robert Douglas), the commander of West Point, who was willing to sellout to the British the military school.
George Sanders plays the villainous English doctor who suspects Bolton is a Colonial spy trying to pass himself off as a British sympathizer. Michael Wilding is the idealistic but tragic patriotic English major John Andre, who is connected with the Arnold spy mission and is a friend of Bolton. Both officers love Sally Cameron (Anne Francis), who is engaged to Andre. The ethical Andre gets fooled by Bolton’s spy activities and fails to uncover that Sally’s father might be a Tory but that she’s an American sympathizer and is in love with Bolton. In the end, through an inventive script Andre, though a cohort of Benedict Arnold, is looked upon as a hero. We’re led to believe that Andre and Bolton though rivals in love and war still became best friends, and Andre became revered despite being hanged by the Americans as a British spy for not revealing Bolton was a spy. The film asks a lot of the viewer to believe that seems to be fictionalized by the writer.
REVIEWED ON 7/18/2012 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ