Based on James M. Cain's novel LOVE'S LOVELY COUNTERFEIT and a brilliant follow up to his 1940s successes DOUBLE INDEMNITY and POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE. Driven by blind ambition, fast-talking publicity man Ben Grace (... more »John Payne) has found a way to smear the reputation of "reform" mayoral candidate Frank Jansen (Kent Taylor). He will do so by exposing Jansen's red-haired girlfriend, June (Rhonda Fleming), with her man-hungry kleptomaniac sister, Dorothy (Arlene Dahl), who also happens to be a convict out on parole. In the process however, Ben finds himself falling for June and seduced by Dorothy, while crime boss Solly Caspar (Ted de Corsia) is breathing down his neck, expecting him to deliver on his promise. John Alton, the legendary noir director of photography, really shows his prowess here in blazing Technicolor. Bonus Features: Anamorphic Widescreen Enhanced for 16x9 monitors| Commentary by Award Winning mystery writer and filmmaker Max Allan Collins| Original Theatrical Trailer| Widescreen. Specs: DVD9; Dolby Digital Mono; 99 minutes; Color; 1.77:1 Aspect Ratio; MPAA - NR: Year - 1956; SRP - $9.99.« less
"The DVD from VCI presents this film in its widescreen version and the technicolor photography by JOHN ALTON looks terrific. I admit I was at first perplexed by the color: it did not seem necessary. So I turned the color off on the TV and watched some scenes in black & white--they looked terriic, vintage Alton. But watching again in color I realized what may be the very special quality this film has: it looks like those PULP CRIME NOVEL COVERS we have all enjoyed over the years. The reds, greens, blues, yellows, etc of those wonderful old covers seem to be reproduced here. In combination with the very pulpy, James M. Cain-based plotline, we have an extremely FUN movie.
Rhonda Fleming and Arlene Dahl play sisters who share some sort of duplicitous secret from childhood. Director Alan Dwan (who replaced Kurt Neumann for this film) makes sure we appreciate the doppelgangerishness of the actresses from the opening scene--Fleming picks up Dahl as she exits prison and the two embrace in that movie-ish way, cheek-to-cheek, so their striking similarity of features and RED HAIR can be fully displayed. Fleming really could act, and she gets some choice scenes, but Dahl tends to steal most of Fleming's thunder with her pouty, Dorothy Malone-like, bad girl characterization.
John Payne--by 1956 and aging matinee idol--makes a pretty good conflicted lead. But the other real standout is Ted de Corsia as a mean, mean villain along the lines of Lawrence Tierney or Ward Bond. De Corsia gets to chew garishly colored scenery at several turns.
It's always a pleasure to see the ubiquitous Ellen Corby as Fleming's thankless and clueless housekeeper ("what should I make for supper?"..oops she's being arrested!). And one never tires of Frank Gerstle and Lance Fuller (one of de Corsia's thugs)The disc has an informative commentary by mystery writer/filmmaker Max Collins. Extras really make the package: a static, luridly-colored main menu leads (via realistic-sounding gunshots!) to the extras menu, which includes a nicely done James M. Cain bio and a little panorama of color reproductions of Cain pulp covers from Collins' own collections. There are also some trailers: for "Slightly Scarlet" (this one looks good) and atrociously awful-looking ones for "Double Indemnity" and "The Postman Always Rings Twice".Highly enjoyable all around."
OVERLOOKED NOIR THRILLER
Mark Norvell | HOUSTON | 09/06/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I like this 50's pulp film because it's an example of what must have been considered "adult" back then. Tough, brutal--with "girlie" shots of redhead Rhonda Fleming in scanty outfits and the all-out performance of Arlene Dahl as her klepto/nympho/psycho sister-both vying for the he-man pleasures of hunky John Payne and everyone caught up in Big City Corruption and Scandal. Lushly photographed and tightly directed ,this is fun stuff--worth repeat viewings any time. Good quality DVD product from VCI that's in vivid 50's color.
I recommend this for buffs who like a little cheese on their cracker--like me."
BRAVO BRAVAAAA ARLENE DAHL
Henning Sebastian Jahre | Oslo, Norway | 01/22/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a fastmoving filmnoir in blazing TECHNICOLOR - and the better for it. The photography by John Alton is spectacular as are the set design and costumes(with Arlene Dahl having a finger in even that)...
John Payne(from SUN VALLEY SERENADE-fame) is quite good as the worldweary guy who take what croms that are offered... Unlike Bogart or Cagney he is a believable character with no high drama or over the top macho stuff. Ted deCorsia is brilliant as Sully the hoodlum - the best I`ve seen really...
But it is ARLENE DAHL who steals the show. At first she is just glamour, but she emerges to what surely is a performance of Oscar material.
Her performance is a beauty to behold - as critic Alison DeWytt in the 20th Century-Fox film "All About Eve" would say: "What a PERFORMANCE... Full of FIRE and music....!"
It`s regrettable that this film has little reputation, because it is 90 minutes of excitement, of fun and intrigue.
I have come to love Arlene Dahl over the years. Posterity names her only as a decorative plant, but with other Norwegian girls in US and UK films - GRETA GYNT, SIGRID GURIE and VERA ZORINA - she remains sadly underrated...
At home I have a collection of films starring these women. I call it the "Susan Dahl collection" hehehe - which includes THE GOLDWYN FOLLIES, ALGIERS, THE ADVENTURES OF MARCO POLO(all 1938), THE DARK EYES OF LONDON 1939, THREE FACES WEST, I WAS AN ADVENTURESS(both 1940), LOUISIANA PURCHASE 1941, TAKE MY LIFE, DEAR MURDERER(both 1947), THE OUTRIDERS, THREE LITTLE WORDS(both 1950), SLIGHTLY SCARLET of course - THE VIKINGS(filmed in Norway)1958 and JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH 1959.
These films showcase these underrated Norwegian girls and themes THAT SHOULD N O T be neglected or forgotten...
The Rhonda Fleming/Arlene Dahl chemistry is good and they seem indeed to be the source of many a trash-book cover of any detective story....
I hope SLIGHTLY SCARLET will find the vast audience it deserves with the likes of LAURA, DOUBLE INDEMNITY and TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT."
FABULOUS FILM NOIR
William Hare | 08/19/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I stumbled upon this film while surfing the amazon.com website, and was intrigued by the other reviews written about it. What a find this film is! The technicolor photography is stunning - almost garrish in its intensity, and quite gorgeous to look at. The story is vintage noir, with fine performances from Rhonda Fleming, Arlene Dahl and John Payne. The score of the film is rich and sumptuous, adding much to the overall feel of the film. All in all, well worth having if you enjoy motion pictures about the seedier side of life. Treat yourself - you won't be disappointed!"
Two Torrid Redheads
William Hare | Seattle, Washington | 02/24/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Slightly Scarlet" was released in 1956. This was a period when the film industry had been rocked on its heels by what Hollywood insiders referred to sarcastically as that "little black box" that we call television.
Since this was the period before color television or wide screens the idea was to exploit the advantage that the film medium had by supplying viewers with what television lacked. They sought to motivate television viewers out of their living room easy chairs and back into theaters by providing luscious color and wide screen entertainment.
The trailer for "Slightly Scarlet" revealed the marketing strategy of producer Benedict Bogeaus. To use the quote that football coach Paul Brown of the Cleveland Browns used to describe the impact of his superstar fullback Jim Brown in the days before both of them reached the Hall of Fame in their respective categories, "If you've got a cannon you shoot it."
What was revealed in the trailer was the emphasis on the two female stars. They were referred to as "the two most beautiful redheads" in films. There could be little doubt that the torrid redheads starring in "Slightly Scarlet" deserved the accolade. The only injustice was that the other two redhead beauties of the period, Susan Hayward and Maureen O'Hara, were left out of the equation, but because they were not in the film the omission was therefore understandable.
Rhonda Fleming, who had been discovered in her teens by Henry Willson, who would as an agent guide the careers of Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter and Guy Madison, and who was then casting director for David O. Selznick, made an eye catching debut playing a psychopath with nymphomaniacal tendencies who also likes to physically hurt men in the great Alfred Hitchcock hit, "Spellbound."
So impressive was Fleming's beauty that on one occasion a director and his cinematographer tried diligently on one occasion to photograph her at every conceivable angle to see if they could make her look bad in at least one shot. They were impressed to discover that they could not. Fleming's natural beauty prevailed in every instance.
Fleming in "Slightly Scarlet" plays an executive secretary to a man seeking to reform a city riddled with gangland corruption. Fleming's life becomes complicated when her sister gets out of jail and moves in with her.
The devastating Arlene Dahl, one of the few women who could hold her own against Fleming, the actress who was called "The queen of Technicolor" for good reason, is cast as Fleming's sister. She is both a nymphomaniac and a kleptomaniac, so Fleming is naturally kept busy looking after her.
John Payne, after having a falling out with mob boss Ted de Corsia, seeks help from Fleming and quickly falls in love with her. Dahl complicates things by making a move of her own.
Dahl does such a job of investing her part with gusto, performing in a manner reminiscent of Carol Baker in "Baby Doll," that Leonard Maltin in his review of "Slightly Scarlet" credits the Minnesota born beauty with "stealing the film."
Director Allan Dwan, a veteran of films who began in the silents after a stint as an assistant football coach at his alma mater, Notre Dame, knew about the "twin cannons" he had to shoot in this film, the devastating beauty of two torrid redheads. Considering it was the fifties with the Breen Office very much a factor, the film is daring in the manner that Fleming and Dahl are portrayed as well as attired.
Dwan wisely opts for colorful cinema over realism in a film moving in that direction. For instance, when Fleming springs Dahl from jail the sister who has just been released is attired in the manner of a rich man's wife ready to go shopping on Rodeo Drive."