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Frenchie

At RKO Keith Memorial

By Humphrey Dosrmann

"Frenchie" has most of the makings of an excellent shoot-'em-up Western: a good cast (Joel McCrea, Shelley Winters, Paul Kelly, Elsa Lancaster), fine Technicolor photography, and appropriate background music which is played whenever somebody rides in or out of town. But the picture appears to move slowly since there are no real chases and only one gun duel.

This lack of action is due to hero-sheriff Tom Banning (Joel McCrea), who likes to talk first and shoot afterwards. Sheriff Tom is a pretty cagey fellow and things rarely get to the shooting stage. Banning further slows the story by explaining every important decision with a homey parable.

On not acting hastily: "Wal air, I once knew a feller bought up a couple of Jersey cows and turned 'em out to pasture. Came back a year later and found no calves had been borned. Turned out he acted kinda hasty and hadn't got a bull."

Also the sheriff doesn't fight, which would be just about unbearable but for a magnificent five-minute elbows-and-fingernails brawl between Frenchie and her rival for his affections.

There isn't much suspense either, since villain saloon-keeper Lambert (Paul Kelly) is clearly far stupider than Banning as well as being a poorer shot.

But the Rocky Mountains are pleasant to look at and are beautifully photographed by Maurie Gertsman. So is Shelley Winters.

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